The IPC World Swimming Championships finished just like they started, with Natalie du Toit winning a gold medal.
The South African claimed her sixth gold this week, in the final event, the five-kilometre open water swim at the Hazelmere dam.
What makes this feat all the more astonishing is that she finished third overall in the race, which included 36 males and 20 females.
Du Toit’s time of one hour, two minutes and 40 seconds was good enough to beat her greatest rival and perennial silver medallist, Stephanie Dixon, by four minutes and 12 seconds. Ana Garcia-Arcicollar picked up the bronze medal, seven minutes and 19 seconds behind Du Toit.
“I tried to stay with the leading male, he started off without a cap so I didn’t think he was part of the race at first. I then tried to stay with the second guy the whole way but he pulled away on the second lap,” Du Toit explained after swimming two laps of two and half kilometres.
The 22-year-old was also very happy with the conditions, which were surprisingly benign.
“The water was very very still, which was great. I’ve swum a few open water races, but I’ve never had water this still. “My time was pretty good, so I’m happy,” she added. The men’s section was won by Sergei Punko in a time of one hour, 22 seconds.
Du Toit, who broke two of her world records this week, picked up gold medals in the 100 metres butterfly on Saturday, the 100 metres freestyle on Monday, the 200 metres individual medley on Tuesday, the 400 metres freestyle on Wednesday and the 50 metres freestyle on Thursday.
All these races were swum in the S9 category, for swimmers with a single amputation.
South Africa picked up ten medals at these Championships. Besides Du Toit’s six golds, Tadgh Slattery won a silver medal in the men’s SB5 100 metres breastroke, Shareen Sapiro, Handri de Beer and young-up-and-coming sensation Charl Bouwer all won a bronze medal.
Sapiro produced this result in the women’s S10 100 metres backstroke, De Beer in the women’s S12 400 metres freestyle and Bouwer in the men’s S13 400 metres freestyle.
At just 16, Bouwer also came fourth in the S13 100 metres backstroke.
Great Britain topped the medal table, while South Africa improved on their 19th place at the last Championships in 2002, to finish 13th in the medal standings.
For more information on the IPC World Swimming Championships, please visit the DISSA Website.