Johannesburg - South African swimmers got their Mare Nostrum Series campaign off to a good start when the four-man contingent won seven medals at the opening leg in Monaco over the weekend.
Olympic silver and gold medallist Chad le Clos was the pick of the swimmers as he clinched two gold medals in the 100m and 200m butterfly and bronze in the 200m freestyle on Saturday and Sunday.
On the first day of the gala, Le Clos won the 200m butterfly in one minute, 56.34 seconds (1:56.34) leaving Hungary’s Bence Biczo and Yuki Kobori of Japan in his wake.
Biczo finished in second place in 1:57.34 with Kobori taking third in 1:57.68.
Rising star Myles Brown also came away with a victory on Saturday when he out-touched France’s Damien Joly in the men’s 400m freestyle.
He won the race in 3:50.90, with Joly posting a second-place time of 3:51.81. Japan’s Yohsuke Miyamoto was third in 3:52.74.
Brown and Le Clos added two more medals to their tally when they finished the men’s 200m freestyle race in second and third place respectively.
Frenchman Jeremy Stravius beat the duo to the wall in a time of 1:46.88 with Brown clocking 1:48.83 and Le Clos touching in 1:50.29.
The next day, Le Clos again underlined his class when he beat the two fastest men this season in the 100m butterfly.
The South African touched first in a tightly contested race clocking 52.11 seconds, with Germany’s Steffen Deibler following shortly behind him with a time of 52.72sec. Russia’s Nikita Konovalov won the bronze medal in 53.17sec.
Michael Meyer added more silverware on Sunday when he finished third in the men’s 400m individual medley with a time of 4:21.30.
Japan’s Daiya Seto won the race in 4:13.09 with Laszlo Cseh of Hungary finishing in second place with a time of 4:13.27.
In the men’s 50m butterfly, Roland Schoeman beat Deibler finishing in 23.24sec with the German clocking 23.69sec.
A larger South African contingent will be in action at the second leg of the series in Barcelona on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the quartet also involved in Spain.
Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh and Olympic finalist Suzaan van Biljon strengthen the team’s medal chances at this gala. Van der Burgh will be swimming in his signature events, the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
Van Biljon will have the added pressure of proving she is in the right shape to represent the country at the Fina World Championships in Barcelona next month. She is the only South African swimmer who can still qualify for the global showpiece in the women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke.