Swimmers aim for world champs places at SA Open Water Championships this weekend

Places on the team to the Swimming World Championships in Japan will be the chief target of the elite swimmers taking part in the SA Open Water Championships which... Read more
Swimmers aim for world champs places at SA Open Water Championships this weekend

Places on the team to the Swimming World Championships in Japan will be the chief target of the elite swimmers taking part in the SA Open Water Championships which get under way at Marina Martinique today and continue until Sunday.

Two-time Midmar Mile champion and last year’s SA Open Water runner-up in both the 5 and 10km races, Connor Buck, will be among the favourites in the men’s races, while two-time Olympian Michelle Weber makes a return to the 10km field after skipping the event last year.

“After Midmar it took me a good few days to recover fully but training has gone well. We’ve had a bit of a taper heading into the champs and I’m feeling good and ready to race,” said Buck.

The 20-year-old’s task has been made slightly easier with the absence of defending champion in both the 5 and 10km races, Ruan Breytenbach, who has decided to study in Australia, but he will still have a tough field to contend with.

Meanwhile, Weber took last year to focus on training for her crossing of the English Channel, which she did in record time, but is returning to the SA Championships this year with an eye on qualifying for the World Championships, and eventually next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m excited to be back,” said Weber. “I missed not being here last year so it’s really exciting to be back. I was a little bit nervous but now I’m actually just excited for the race. It’s nice to be competitive in this category – for the 10km, which is the only race I’m doing.

“Prep since the Midmar Mile has been good. I’ve changed a lot of stuff. I used Midmar to see where was at and then obviously not being the best performance there, there was a lot of tweaking that I had to do.  Now I’m feeling strong before the race and kind of confident but you never know what’s going to happen on the day… I’m just excited for some fast swimming.”

Also looking forward to racing is current 10km champion Amica de Jager, who will be looking to defend the title she claimed at the same venue last year.

“I feel that my prep has gone well. We have a really strong squad of open water swimmers training at Tuks, so I’ve loved training in such an awesome squad,” said Pretoria-based De Jager, who originally hails from the Eastern Cape.

“Open water swimming at its heart is unpredictable and that is why we love it so much. There’s a very strong group of swimmers and it will be a privilege to race with them.”

De Jager added that having had the experience of racing at last year’s World Championships in Budapest has made all the difference.

“It was such an incredible experience racing at world champs,” she said. “I definitely learnt a lot and am so grateful to have had that valuable opportunity. I believe that you take away something from every race, you learn, you evolve and that is part of the journey that we athletes are on. We are constantly striving to achieve excellence.”

The open water swimming events at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan will take place from 15-20 July 2023. The first and second-placed athletes in the 5km and 10km individual events at the SA Open Water Championships this weekend may be considered for selection for those Championships.

Photo credits: Amica de Jager & Catherine van Rensburg – by Nonda Sakelliou

Article written by