Olympic Places on the Line for SA Divers and Open Water Swimmers in Doha

With some under pressure to qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Games, Team South Africa’s open water swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers will represent the nation at the World Aquatics Champs in Doha, Qatar from 2-18 February, 2023. All Photo: World Aquatics

A team of 49 open water swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers will represent South Africa at the World Aquatics Championships starting in Doha, Qatar today, 2 February.

They’ll be joined by the pool swimmers late next week, with the swimming competition only scheduled to kick off from 11-18 February.

While some have already secured their Olympic spots in Paris, for others the coming days will determine whether they will be part of the SA team in the French capital later this year.

One of those athletes looking to secure her spot on that team is open water swimmer Amica de Jager, who finished as the top South African woman at the last World Championships in Japan, in both the 5km and 10km.

“My training prep for world champs went really well. After I qualified for [the World Championships] at [SA] trials, we trained right through the holidays to ensure the best prep we could, as there wasn’t much time until competition. I feel that it definitely paid off.”

There are only 22 Olympic berths on offer in the women’s 10km marathon event and with three of those spots already filled at the last World Championships, De Jager will be hoping for a top-13 finish in Doha to qualify. 

That means she won’t have to rely on the one continental berth, which will also be contested by De Jager’s compatriots by Tory Earle and Callen Lotter, among Africa’s top swimmers at the event.

De Jager is adamant that the experience she gained from her last World Championships will make all the difference this time around.

“Every race in open water swimming is totally different (different race strategies, different conditions, different courses, etc.) so it makes race experience an important aspect. I learnt a lot from my previous world champs so I will definitely be applying all of that knowledge to this year’s race.”

Meanwhile, another of the South Africans competing in Doha, diver Julia Vincent, will enjoy a slightly less stressful time in Qatar, having already claimed an Olympic qualification spot at the last World Championships.

She’ll be cheering on her SA teammates, however, who are still out to secure their own places on the team.

“My preparation has been going pretty well. I was nursing a small injury but I feel good now. I’m mostly pain-free and I feel like I’m moving very well. My first training session here went very well so I feel pretty good and I’m just excited to compete again,” she said.

Looking to learn as much as possible with an eye on qualifying for the 2028 Olympic Games is Zalika Methula, who will celebrate her 18th birthday in Doha.

“Having a world champs early in the season is a little strange just because you have to make sure you have all your dives ready for such a prestigious event. But it’s always such an honour representing SA that I’m always excited to be on the international stage,” she said.

“My biggest goal is to have a consistently good list and soak in the amazing opportunity. A big lesson I’ve learnt is to stop comparing myself to other divers, because everyone’s journey is different, and we all take different ways in order to get ourselves to the top.”

Methula said she is making the most of competing alongside veterans like soon-to-be three-time Olympian Vincent. 

“I’ve always looked up to Jules from a very young age and having her here with me is such an honour. I’ve also learnt a lot from her and she’s been incredibly influential in my journey.”

The South Africa’s women’s water polo team will also be in action in Doha. Having claimed a famous win over Argentina at the last World Championships in Japan, South Africa been drawn in Group D alongside Italy, Great Britain and Canada. Play gets under way on Sunday, 4 February while the artistic swimming competition kicked off on Friday.

SA Women’s Teams at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha from 2-18 February, 2024

Diving

Bailey Heydra
Zalika Methula
Anathi Shozi
Julia Vincent 

Open Water Swimming

Amica de Jager
Tory Earle
Callen Lotter

Artistic Swimming 

Holly de Bruyn
Jessica Hayes-Hill
Ella Huang
Phindile Makhaye
Laura Strugnell
Tayla-Jade van Huysteen
Casey Williams
Sarah Williams

Water Polo

Yanah Gerber
Amica Hallendorff
Shakira January
Tumaini Macdonell
Nicola MacLeod
Meghan Maartens
Chloe Meecham
Boati Motau
Daniela Passoni
Amber Penny
Megan Sileno
Kelsey White
Annie Thornton-Dibb
Ruby Versfeld
Esihle Zondo


Photo Caption: With some under pressure to qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Games, Team South Africa’s open water swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers will represent the nation at the World Aquatics Champs in Doha, Qatar from 2-18 February, 2023. All Photo: World Aquatics

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