Cameron Van Der Burgh won the 50m breaststroke, earning his first Gold Medal of the Championships. That alone would have made it a great day for the South African’s, but Giulio Zorzi, Van Der Burgh’s South African teammate, touched third, earning the Bronze medal. It is great to see two teammates finish on the podium. Several other countries have seen both of their swimmers finish in the top 3, but this is the first of the Championships for South Africa. What makes this even more special is the Cameron and Giulio have been training partners for years.
We were able to talk with a few of their coaches who were able to share a lot about their journey.
“Cameron and Giulio how should I say it: the Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr. of World Breaststroke swimming. You will see #shakeandbake everywhere on our tweets. Why? Because they are a team, inseparable like “brothers”, they are together all the time 24/7and drive and push each other to unstoppable standards. Everything they do ends up being a competition, even measuring their fat percentages lol; but man do they have fun, from ragging on Lehesta every day to playing practical jokes or continually playing soccer as a form of “stretching”. These guys just love and enjoy what they do. We have really just allowed them at Players to be given the freedom to express their swimming like artwork.” – Grant Kritzinger, Players Swim.
Van Der Burgh and Zorzi have trained together since they were young. Grant Kritzinger told us that Van Der Burgh once referred to Zorzi as his “Seabiscuit and protégé.” Although we have seen a lot of success from Van Der Burgh, Zorzi made it very clear that he is not any bodies “Seabiscuit.”
“Giulio Zorzi after tonight isn’t the next Cameron Van Der Burgh, he is the next Giulio Zorzi, this kid will be phenomenal in years to come.” – Grant Kritzinger, Players Swim.
Cameron Van Der Burgh and Giulio Zorzi have swam together since they were young and are best friends. You could see how important that friendship was to both of them during the medal presentation, when Van Der Burgh pulled his teammate and best friend, Zorzi, to the top of the podium for the singing of their National Anthem. They stood there, arms around each other, watching the South African flag as it was raised up.
Gil Levy, one of their old coaches, was able to dig out a great photo for us of the two boys together when they were younger. In the picture, Giulio Zorzi is on the far left and Cameron Van Der Burgh is directly to the right.
Their teammate, Chad Le Clos, also had a great performance in the men’s 200 butterfly, winning the Gold medal with a time of 1:54.32. The Olympic Champion was the favorite to win the event, but had a lot of tough competition. He was particularly excited about winning this event because this was his first World Title.
South Africa won the most swimming medals on day 4 and improve to fourth in the overall swimming medal count.
View part 2 of this article here.