South African swimmers and those from the rest of the continent are set to receive a massive boost with the creation of a new FINA Development Centre in the country.
Newly elected President of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Husain Al Musallam signed a landmark agreement with Swimming South Africa to set up the new centre in Franschhoek, Western Cape.
The aim of this centre is to form a hub for the development and growth of aquatics in Africa by hosting FINA scholarship programmes, as well as coaches and officials education and certification programmes.
FINA have set up similar centres across the globe in countries such as Russia, Thailand, Senegal and the USA. These centres have organised various activities aimed at popularising aquatic sports: master classes with famous athletes, autograph sessions, and training camps as well as programmes to develop coaches and officials.
Swimming South Africa President, Mr. Alan Fritz said: "We are very grateful to FINA and the FINA President for the support and for delivering this significant project. Aquatic sports in Africa, and in our region in particular, will truly benefit from this new Development Centre and we intend on boosting the performance of African athletes."
CEO of Swimming South Africa, Mr. Shaun Adriaanse added: “This is a huge advantage for our swimmers here in South Africa and other countries on the continent in terms of developing new talent.
"The goal of FINA centres like these is to unlock potential and create favourable conditions to equip athletes to be able to qualify and represent their respective nations at the Olympic Games and World Championships
"This is a wonderful opportunity and we look forward to seeing what talent will be unearthed at the new centre in the future."
Franschhoek already boasts one swimmer who has qualified for the Olympics. Michele Weber trains in the picturesque town and last weekend booked her spot to Tokyo in the 10km marathon swimming event, as did compatriot Michael McGlynn, with Namibia’s Philip Seidler securing the continental berth at the Games.