Keri-Leigh Shaw ensured South Africa’s campaign at the World Youth Championships in Rio de Janeiro ended on a successful note on Sunday.
The 16-year-old swam a personal best and a national age group record time of 1:00,25 to take the silver medal in the 100m butterfly.
She then went on to join team mates Karin Prinsloo, Yolana du Plessis and Christy Lategan to pick up another silver in the 4x100m medley relay.
Shaw reached the first turn of the 100m butterfly in fifth place but then a speedy second 50m saw her moving up to second place behind Italian Ilaria Bianchi, who won in a time of 59,57 seconds.
“That’s how I always swim the 100,” explained a thrilled Shaw afterwards. “I start off a bit slower and then come back strong.
“I’m really happy with my time today because it’s a PB,” she added.
“Now my focus will be on working hard for trials in December so I can try and qualify for the World Championships in Melbourne next year.”
Speaking of her experience at this competition, Shaw added: “It’s been well organised and it’s good to be able to compete against swimmers the same age as me and not against the seniors the whole time.”
Later in the morning in the final event of the competition, urged on by their vuvuzela-blowing team mates, the SA relay team always looked in contention throughout the race and in the final 50m it looked like Lategan might even catch race leaders Russia.
But she just didn’t manage it, reaching the wall in 4:11,39, to Russia’s 4:10,88.
“We weren’t expecting this at all,” said Prinsloo. “We thought maybe bronze but to get silver is really great,” she added.
“This has been a great meet and we are looking forward to now trying to make it into the senior teams and qualify for World Championships,” added du Plessis.
South Africa was well represented in the other finals of the morning. Yolana du Plessis and Jean-Marie Neethling both swam in the final of the 200m breaststroke.
A strong final 50m saw du Plessis finishing fifth in a personal best time of 2:30,63 while Neethling swam 2:33,26 for sixth place in the race, which was won by Vitalina Simonova of Russia in 2:26,58.
Karin Prinsloo broke another national age group record in the 50m backstroke, dipping under 30 seconds for the first time on her way to finishing sixth in 29,98. China’s Yanxin Zhou won the race in 29,49.
The SA team will return to the country on Tuesday with three silver and six bronze medals, a haul which saw them finishing in 17th place overall.