The Nedbank Madibaz swimming club are taking the plunge and hosting their first ever gala in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, August 29.
More than 170 swimmers are expected to descend on the Newton Park Indoor Swimming Pool for what is hoped will become an annual fixture on the aquatics calendar.
Madibaz aquatics manager Melinda Goosen said the gala was a long overdue event and, as the strongest swimming university in the Eastern Cape, it was important for NMMU to maintain a more visible presence in Nelson Mandela Bay Aquatics.
“It is important for us to be visible and active in our community and also contribute to the swimming fraternity through a high standard of competition and our established learn-to-swim programmes,” said Goosen.
She said the club had previously produced a number of high-profile swimmers such as Paralympian Kevin Paul, open-water Olympian Jessica Roux and Greg Kieck, but had been unable to help advance their sporting careers due to lack of funding and sound club structures.
“With the help of sponsors like Nedbank we are now in a position to be able to put these structures in place and support these swimmers,” said Goosen.
The gala is open to the public and will showcase some of the Eastern Cape’s star athletes with top talented provincial swimmers competing against one another.
Heading the Madibaz onslaught will be star swimmer Edward Johannisen, who will participate in the breaststroke and individual medley events.
Talented NMMU twins Alard and Alaric Basson will compete in the fly and breaststroke events respectively, over both 50m and 100m.
“All three swimmers are experienced at international competition, having represented our country at such championships as World Youth Games, World Student Games, BHP Billiton Series, CANA Zones and African Games,” said Goosen.
The gala will be their final competition before departing with Team South Africa for the 11th African Games, which take place in Brazzaville, Congo, from September 4 to 19.
“This will also be the last chance to catch them in action before they head off for their pre-tour camp.”
Goosen said the Madibaz swimming club were aiming to put on an event that all swimmers and their families could look forward to.
“There will be prizes for everyone and giveaways for the whole family as well as music, good food and a great atmosphere.
“We want to create an event with a difference, something for people to talk about and keep coming back to year after year.”
Admission is R10 for adults and free for children. Programmes will be on sale for R20.