Zimbabwe top swimmer Kirsty Coventry joins leading international athletes when the inaugural South Africa International Invitational Swimming Meet takes place on January 29 and 30 at the Newton Park Swimming Pool in Port Elizabeth.
Olympic sensation and world record holder Coventry will be racing in the 200 and 400m freestyle, 200 and 400m individual medley as well as the 100 and 200m backstroke events.
The 27-year-old will be up against SA’s Chanelle van Wyk and Fabiola Molina of Brazil in the 100m backstroke.
The South African contingent will be up against the likes of Brazil, USA, Great Britain, Zimbabwe, Spain, Germany, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Venezuela.
The 50m breaststroke will certainly be an interesting race as world champion Cameron van der Burgh will strive to hold on to his title when he competes against Brazil’s Joao Luiz Gomes (Jr) and Henrique Barbosa.
The 400m individual medley race, in which Chad Le Clos claimed gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, will also see SA’s Riaan Schoeman and Germany’s Yannick Lebherz (who is currently the Vice European Champion in that event) vying for the top spot.
Expect a powerful performance from both Gerhard Zandberg and USA’s Randall Bal in the 50 and 100m backstroke races. Bal is currently ranked 7th and 23rd in the world in the 50 and 100m backstroke respectively.
On the ladies side, with three gold medals from the recent Commonwealth Games and numerous world records, Natalie du Toit needs no introduction.
The 800m freestyle will be the race to watch, as Du Toit will be competing against SA’s Kathryn Meaklim and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte, who has the fastest seeding time of 8:35,50 and claimed three gold medals and a silver at the 2010 Fina World Short Course Championships in Dubai.