Johannesburg - Swimming sensation Cameron van der Burgh was crowned Swimmer of the Year at the Telkom Swimming SA Annual Aquatic Awards in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Van der Burgh pipped paralympian Natalie du Toit and rising star Chad le Clos at the post thanks to his performances at this year’s FINA World Championships in Shanghai in July.
He won two bronze medals in the 50 and 100m breaststroke at the world showpiece and also clinched two gold medals and one bronze medal at the Mare Nostrum Series.
Van der Burgh also went on to win gold medals in the 50 and 100 metres breaststroke events at the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique in September.
Le Clos and Du Toit, however, were also honoured on the evening, winning the Most Promising Athlete of the Year and Disabled Swimmer of the Year award respectively.
Du Toit clinched gold medals in the 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 100m freestyle at the All Africa Games in September.
The 27-year-old also won the 5 and 10km titles at the SA National Open Water Championships earlier this year.
Le Clos lived up to expectations of him developing into a world class swimmer as he improved as the year progressed.
The 19-year-old made his breakthrough on the world stage in 2010, when he was crowned world short course champion in the 200m butterfly.
He was the standout swimmer at the All Africa Games where he won the 200m individual medley, 200m butterfly and the 400m individual medley and taking silver in the 100m butterfly.
While he was honoured at the awards evening in South Africa on Saturday, Le Clos was in action in the seventh and final leg of the Swimming World Cup in Japan.
His blistering form in the series ensured that he finished as overall winner, emulating compatriots Ryk Neethling and Van der Burgh.
The trio was also nominated in the Aquatic Personality of the Year award but lost out to youngster Vanessa Mohr.
Sixteen-year-old Mohr made a splash at this year’s SA Nationals where she won the 50m and 100m butterfly events swimming A qualifying times for the FINA World Aquatic Championships.
Open water star Chad Ho received two awards on the evening, winning the Performance of the Year category and taking the Open Water Swimmer of the Year honour.
Ho became the first South African to win the overall title of the 2010 FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup at the end of last year and also successfully defended his Midmar Mile title earlier this year.
National swimming coach Graham Hill was named Coach of the Year with Le Clos his most notable swimmer.
Swimming South Africa also honoured the best athletes from the other aquatic sports with Sarah Harris named waterpolo Player of the Year while Laura Strugnell was crowned the top synchronized swimmer and Addy Van der Sluys named Diver of the Year.
Swimming SA Annual Aquatic Awards:
Swimmer of the year: Cameron van der Burgh
Most promising athlete of the year: Chad le Clos
Disabled swimmer of the year: Natalie du Toit
Open water swimmer of the year: Chad Ho
Best performance of the year: Chad Ho
Aquatic personality of the year: Vanessa Mohr
Synchronised swimmer of the year: Laura Strugnell
Diver of the year: Addy Van der Sluys
Water polo player of the year: Sarah Harris
Coach of the year: Graham Hill
Coach of the year (junior athletes): Peter Williams
Volunteer of the year: Musa Kunene
Administrator of the year: JD van der Walt
LTS instructor of the year: Doctor Mkhabela
Development club of the year: Piranhas Swimming Club (Border)