South Africa

Grand Prix for SA swimmers

2015-01-08 21:04

Johannesburg - With its place in the annual BHP Billiton Aquatics Super Series taken up by the world powerhouse the United States, Swimming SA (SSA) has made contingency plans to give South African swimmers opportunities in the pool.

SSA chief executive Shaun Adriaanse said the federation had launched two Grand Prix events.

"They made that decision and we are fine with it as it gave us an opportunity to focus on setting up our own local Grand Prix," Adriaanse said on Thursday.

"We have two events this year - one in Stellenbosch and another in Durban - so we are on track with our plans for the galas."

South Africa was involved in the inaugural Aquatics Super Series two years ago, but after last year's event the Australians opted for the US instead of South Africa.

Local opportunities

Adriaanse said the decision had been a blessing in disguise as SSA was in dire need of giving more local swimmers exposure to top competition.

Stellenbosch will be the first stop for the two-gala Grand Prix, from 12 to 15 February and the Durban event will take place on 21 and 22 February.

"It is important for Swimming SA to create local opportunities for our athletes because one of our challenges has been that we don't have enough local high-level competitions.

"There are really only two competitions, SA Short Course and then the SA Nationals, which is not enough high-level competition."

While there was greater hope that the local Grand Prix would grow into internationally recognised events, Adriaanse said the primary focus was to provide opportunities for local athletes.

In efforts to draw international competition to South African shores, Adriaanse said they had considered to bid for a spot on the popular Fina World Cup Series.

"We considered looking at hosting a Fina World Cup event, but then it is a once-off event per annum and the resources you require to stage that event, we could use it better to host our own competition."

Major sponsors

Meanwhile, Adriaanse said SSA was close to finalising a broadcasting rights deal which could enhance its chances of securing a title sponsorship.

The federation had been without major sponsors since Telkom's R11m a year deal ended in 2011.

"We are making headway and one of the key parts is related to broadcasting.  We're close to finalising a deal with one of our major broadcasters.

"Of course that will have an effect on negotiations with other sponsors when you can guarantee exposure and there is light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  swimming

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