Van der Burgh swims to gold in the City of Roses

Cameron van der Burgh won the men's 50m breaststroke in a time of 28.05 at the CANA African Swimming Championships in Bloemfontein. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

South Africa claimed a one-two in the men’s 50m breaststroke final of the CANA African Swimming Championships in Bloemfontein on Monday.

The South African swimming great, Cameron van der Burgh, lived up to his reputation by touching the wall in 28.35 sec to win the gold in what was his first ever African Swimming Championships.

The 28-year-old swimmer who hails from Pretoria was also swimming in the City of Roses for the first time in 15 years.

Michael Houlie, who looks up to Van der Burgh touched the wall in 28.63 sec to claim the silver medal.

Egypt’s Ahmed Shamlool round off the podium to clinch the bronze in 28.92 sec.

Like Chad le Clos, this was the only event in which Van der Burgh competed at the Champions, but he will however not be heading to Singapore for the FINA Swimming World Cup which takes place later this week.

Van der Burgh is in the process of moving to Cape Town and will be taking some time off from swimming to get his affairs in order.

“I’ve skipped a lot of training, I’m just trying to organise my life because I’m moving down to Cape Town,” Van der Burgh told Courant.

“The last month or two I’ve just been really busy because I’m also busy setting up a new business in Cape Town, so I’m just trying to use this time when the world short course isn’t so important to try and make those changes so come January I can start training properly for the long course season.”

Van der Burgh says his first visit to Bloemfontein since he was 13 years old is different to what him imagined it would be.

“It’s been nice, I was here when I was 13 for the level 3 age group champs.

“You picture the pool completely different but the nostalgia was quite nice.

“It’s crazy, the fans are awesome. I can see why the Cheetahs get so much support. I come from Bulls territory and they give me so much love, so it was really nice coming down here.”

On the day Team South Africa stamped their authority on African swimming by more than doubling their medals count from the previous day.

South Africa won a further 7 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals to take their tally to 24. Egypt is lying in second on 13 medals, followed by Algeria on 6 while the Seychelles and Morocco have 1 apiece. – MORGAN PIEK