Swimmers from around the Eastern Cape and its neighbouring provinces will show off their credentials at the annual Madibaz Gala in Gqeberha this weekend.
The two-day event, starting on Saturday, takes place at the Newton Park pool.
Madibaz Sport aquatics manager Melinda Goosen explained that the gala, which played an enormous role in developing swimmers in and around Gqeberha, had become an integral part of their calendar.
Besides Nelson Mandela Bay, competitors from both the Southern Cape and Buffalo City regions have signed up for duty.
“That adds a strong competitive edge to the occasion,” Goosen said.
She was thrilled as it allowed top Madibaz swimmers such as Dylan Botha, Abigail Swanepoel and Xavier Beukes to compete against top out-of-town opposition.
Besides exposure against quality swimmers, the sports manager from Nelson Mandela University said it was also an opportunity for her athletes to go for personal bests.
The long-course gala features all the strokes over distances from 50 to 1 500m.
It caters for age-groupers, giving the younger generation the chance to show off their potential in front of the who is who of swimming in the region.
“There is definitely something on offer for everyone,” Goosen said.
Both Botha, a breaststroke specialist, and Beukes, a freestyler who also competes in the butterfly, have set themselves specific goals for the gala.
Beukes has been competing in as many events as possible this season to gain more racing experience and the Madibaz Gala is another such opportunity.
“There are times I’ve set for myself which I’m hoping to better,” the first-year marine biology student said.
The 19-year-old expected to be pushed along on her mission by swimmers from the Port Elizabeth Aquatics and Infinity clubs.
Besides his speciality number, the 200m breaststroke, Botha has entered the 50 and 100m events as well as taking a dip at the 200m individual medley.
The gala was an opportunity to ensure that his stroking, pace and tempo were on track for the South African short-course gala on August 19 and 20, the third-year mechanical engineering scholar explained.
“I will aim for some personal best times and hope to receive good data from the racing to improve on for the following weekend.
“The competition will be strong and there will be plenty of pressure as we strive for the gold medals,” the 20-year-old said.