n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Views of elite swimmers on achieving swimming excellence in South Africa : original research article

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-5163
  • E-ISSN: 2078-516X



&lt;I&gt;Objective.&lt;/I&gt; This study was conceptualised following publication of two editorials by Professor Mike Lambert, in which he proposed a model for achieving sporting excellence in South Africa. A questionnaire based on the assumptions of the model was administered to the first 45 ranked swimmers in South Africa. Their views and opinions were elicited on the various components of the model. <br><I>Study design.&lt;/I&gt; A questionnaire was designed to elicit information on the administration, sponsorship, coaching skills, talent identification, financial implications and scientific support for swimmers in South Africa. The top 45 swimmers were interviewed at the National Senior Swimming Championships held in Durban in 2003. Amongst the swimmers interviewed were 7 of the 8 current Olympians who participated in Athens in 2004. Due to the nature of the study only descriptive analysis was undertaken. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Results.&lt;/I&gt; Swimmers believed that South Africans have the potential, capacity and raw talent to compete at international level. Scientific and medical support, administration of the sport, financial implications for training, and competition were considered critical factors in respondents support systems enabling them to compete effectively. &lt;br&gt;&lt;I&gt;Conclusions.&lt;/I&gt; Swimmers in the study sample reported that the administration of swimming in South Africa should be changed to impact the sport positively. They felt that coaching skills available in South Africa were sufficient to achieve excellence in performance, but that scientific and medical support were not on a par with international standards. Use of drugs in swimming is likely to increase with increased international exposure. Finally, the swimmers said that they do not have the financial means to achieve success internationally compared with Australian and American swimmers. Swimming South Africa, the National Olympic Committee of South Africa and private sponsors need to play a more central role in sponsorship of swimmers in South Africa. At a conservative estimate, the professional swimmer requires between R5 000 and R8 000 a month to be able to train effectively for international performance. This figure does not include costs for accommodation, subsistence and travel to overseas competitions.

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