Du Rand conducts swimming clinic in Bloemfontein

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RUFUS BOTHA

George du Rand, former world record holder and Olympic Games swimmer, was back in Bloemfontein where he conducted a swimming clinic for swimmers for the strong Seals swimming club over the weekend.

Du Rand, who schooled at St. Andrew’s in Bloemfontein and was coached by Simon Gray (coach of Seals) when Du Rand was a crackerjack schools swimmer, spent time with the Seals on Friday and Saturday.

Courant caught up with the 32-year-old Du Rand who is currently based in Pretoria. He is involved in coaching and conducts clinics throughout the country.

He said, “Conducting clinics is such a nice way to plough back what I learnt throughout my career.”

Du Rand added, “The main emphasis of the clinic in Bloemfontein was on the technical aspect of swimming. Technique is very important and on Friday I gave a lecture on technique and added a couple of ‘on-the-ground’ demonstrations.

“Came Saturday, it was into the pool. I did practical demonstrations and Simon and I ironed out mistakes we had spotted in the technique of the clinic attendees.”

Du Rand, who was well known for his brilliant backstroke technique, said that he was pleasantly surprised with the talent he saw amongst the swimmers.

“It is difficult to mention names, as they all seem promising.” Courant was adamant and wanted to know who he saw as possible future stars. “It is difficult, but if I have to mention two, it must be Bianca Gray and Zane Waddell.”

He said that he had a discussion with both of them. “I told them if they intend becoming world class, they would have to put in much more effort. This will include more hours in the pool, correct nutrition and hard work in the gymnasium.”

Du Rand also told Courant that swimming becomes a way of life if you want to match the best in the world. It has become very professional.

“I believe top class swimmers quit too early in their careers as well. Things have changed. Medals on the world circuit were in the past won by swimmers ranging from 20 to 21 years, but nowadays the average age has moved up to 25 years.” Talking of which, Du Rand said that he has not yet retired from swimming as popular belief suggests.

“I never had the intention of retiring, but injuries before the Olympics (2012) forced me to do out of the pool conditioning. I am back in the pool and my planning is going well to qualify for next years Olympics.”

Du Rand is concentrating on his strong dissipline (backstroke), but in the shorter 100m. “I have also been giving it a go in the butterfly dissipline recently (100m)”, he added.

Du Rand plans to qualify for the Olympic Games (2016) later in the year at a couple of World Cup meetings. He competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (semi finalist) and in 2009 swam to a world record in the short-course version of the 200m backstroke.

Some of Du Rand’s other world class performances include:

* Ranked second in the world (200m backstroke). * World Championships finalist (2009). * Commonwealth Games silver medalist (2009). * World Cup gold medalist (8 times). * World Championships short-course finalist (2006). * Multiple SA and African record holder. * International swimmer for 10 years. * South African Champion (11 times).