South African swimmers excelled at the recent FINA World Cup Series meets in Dubai and Doha, with defending world champion Chad le Clos and countrymen Cameron van der Burgh, Darian Townsend, Roland Schoeman and Guilio Zorzi all managing podium finishes.
At the Doha event, held on 6 and 7 October, South Africa secured two gold, two silver and three bronze medals on the first day. In the 200m men’s butterfly event, Japan’s Daiya Seto beat Le Clos by a hundredth of a second to take first place. Van der Burgh then won the 50m breaststroke, ahead of Roland Schoeman and New Zealand’s Glenn Snyders.
On day two, there was an all-African podium in the 50m butterfly, with Schoeman first, Kenyan Jason Dunford second and Le Clos third. Van Der Burgh took gold in the 50m breaststroke in a time of 25.95, close to his world record of 25.25. Schoeman came in second at 26.38, with Snyders again finishing third in a time of 26.68.
At the Dubai event, which took place a week earlier, Le Clos and Van der Burgh both won their respective 200m butterfly and 50m breaststroke events. Le Clos also claimed second place in the 50m butterfly event, losing to Dunford with Schoeman finishing in third.
Van der Burgh, who went into the evening as the favourite to take gold in the 50m breaststroke, won the race comfortably, managing a time of 26.64 seconds. In his win, he outstripped second-placed Guilio Zorzi, who came in at 26.91 seconds. Gold medalist and fellow Olympian Schoeman managed a third-place finish in the 100m freestyle event. He was beaten by Australians Kenneth To and Anthony Ervin. To also secured a first-place finish in the 100m medley, beating Trinidad and Tobago hopeful George Bovell and South African Darian Townsend.
On the second day of the Dubai event, Van der Burgh won the men’s 100m breaststroke, beating Snyders by nine-tenths of a second and managing a time of 58.33. Townsend then made his mark, taking first place comfortably in both the 200m freestyle and the 200m medley. Le Clos then added the 100m butterfly gold to his tally with an outstanding performance to finish ahead of Russian Evgeny Korotyshkin and American Tom Shields.
South African Kathryn Meaklim managed a third-place podium finish in the women’s 400m medley, behind Hungrians Katinka Hosszu and Zsuzsanna Jakabos.
Following the two events, South African medalist Townsend was quoted as saying, “I’m happy that I have one medal of each colour here at Doha.” He praised his countrymen’s dedication and commitment. “The South Africans have put on a great show this year. We have our two Olympic gold medallists here and that’s a great motivation,” he told Fina.org