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TeamSA rule the pool at Region 5 Games in Maseru

by ZwemZa on December 15th, 2021

Tumi Macdonell and Ruard van Renen emerged as the country’s top-performing young swimmers at the recent AUSC Region 5 Youth Games in Maseru, Lesotho.

Macdonell returned to South Africa with a haul of seven individual medals – five of them gold, while Van Renen claimed eight individual medals in total, six of them gold.

Athletes from 10 countries competed in the Region 5 Games across 11 sporting codes. And while Team South Africa were withdrawn from the event prior to the finish because of Covid concerns, that was not before the completion of the swimming competition.

Macdonell claimed her gold medals in the 50, 100 and 400m freestyle as well as the 50m breaststroke and 200m individual medley. The 17-year-old also took silver in the 200m freestyle and a bronze in the 50m backstroke.

Her teammate, Van Renen, claimed his golds in the 50 and 100m freestyle, the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke and the 100m butterfly while also adding 200m freestyle and 50m butterfly silvers to his collection.

“To be honest some swims shocked me, I didn’t really except personal bests or times near them, not only because of not being as fit as I was when I swam those times, but also because of the altitude,” admitted a thrilled Van Renen afterwards, explaining his focus has been on completing his Matric exams.

“Also swimming 22 races over the course of three days was definitely a challenge but it definitely helped to build character and confidence. My mindset heading into those races was to slow down in prelims to conserve energy and go hard in the finals to ensure a win for the team.

“That’s why I was very pleased with some races and my performance over the competition. Also, some races felt like skins races for the ISL [International Swimming League] because I would only have four minutes to rest before my next race,” added the Durbanville swimmer who is heading to Southern Illinois University in the USA next year.

Several other South Africans also put in impressive performances in the pool.

Bernard Wolfaardt claimed gold in the 200 and 400m freestyle and the 200m butterfly while Petrus Truter topped the podium in the 200m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley.

Erin Hartzenberg took one gold (200m butterfly) and two silvers (50 and 100m butterfly) while Christine Mbite excelled in the breaststroke events, taking gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m.

Lwethu Mbata claimed three silvers – in the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke behind Zimbabwe’s Donata Katai, who competed at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Hannah Paulse claimed two bronze medals – in the 50 and 100m breaststroke – while Catherine Morrison finished with bronze in both the 200 and 400m freestyle.

On the boys’ side, the other medals came from Jonathan Heslop (five silvers – in the 50, 100 and 200m backstroke behind Van Renen, and the 100 and 200m breaststroke), Zinadeen Scheepers (two silvers – in the 50m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley), Owethu Mahan (silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 50 and 100m freestyle) and Jordan Moodley (silver in the 200m butterfly and bronze in the 100m butterfly).

The South African team set numerous new Games record times in the individual events as well as the relays, where they claimed gold in seven of the eight team races to finish the meet with a whopping total of 52 medals – 25 of them gold, 19 silver and eight bronze.

“Some people would think that winning all those medals would be the highlight of the gala. To be totally honest my highlight was meeting new people, not only the swimmers from South Africa but also other swimmers from different countries,” said Van Renen.

“Another highlight would be the vibe we had at the gala. If one swimmer was not feeling it, the other 18 would help motivate him or her and if someone swam, you can best believe your teammates would be screaming in support. You could also expect Sir Mafata [Team SA Swimming Team Manager Mafata Modutoane] to dance afterwards,” he added with a laugh.

Supplied by Swimming South Africa

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