By Mark Etheridge
Team South Africa are up and swimming at the 2017 Para Sports Festival in Mexico City.
Two of the five swimmers were in action on Saturday and good news is that the team’s sole para powerlifter, Ricardo Fitzpatrick has finally joined the team in Mexico after travel documentation glitches.
In action for the rainbow nation on Saturday were Western Cape swimmers Christian Sadie and Franco Smit.
Swimming the S7 freestyle final, Sadie was desperately close to the podium, ending fourth in a time of 1min 08.52sec… 0.06sec outside the bronze medal-winning time.
Winner was Colombia’s Carlos Serrano Karate in 1:03.46.
Then it was the turn of Smit who got his championships off to a great start with an African record of 1:07.15 in the S12 backstroke heats in the morning as he ended third in his heat.
In the final the 18-year-old ended fourth with a time of 1:07.67 as Greece’s Charalampos Taiganidis won in 1:01.82.
‘What a great day para-swimming had for South Africa,’ said team head, Theo Verster.
‘Both Christian and Franco swam their first international meet and made us proud with some great swimming.
‘From a management side, I’m happy to see our young talent rising to the pressures of finals swimming on the world stage.
‘It really takes a lot of courage and will to get up and race this well against seasoned pro’s. So very well done to a great day of swimming by Team SA.
‘Sunday we only have Alani Ferreira up in the Finals for the women’s S13 100m freestyle.
‘I just want to take this opportunity to thank the South African embassy in Mexico’s staff for the great support.
‘I can honestly say in all my years this has been the best support I have ever seen for a team.
‘Thank you very much from our swimmers and management. One of the team commented that you guys rocked the SA flag. Thanks for this support.’
In the picture are Ferreira and teammate Christelle Kriel