African Recap: Cameron VDB Earns Silver, Coventry Continues Her Legacy


The big swim tonight for Africa was South African Cameron van der Burgh, who claimed the silver medal in the 100 breast. The defending Olympic champion swam a 58.69, a very strong time, to touch 2nd behind Adam Peaty, who smashed his own world record with an unworldly 57.13.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, competing in her fifth Olympic Games, qualified for the semifinals of the 100 back tonight. Though she was three spots away from making the final, it’s not so much about times these days for her. She is the greatest female Olympic swimmer in African history, having won seven Olympic medals in her career.

Coventry’s meet in Rio won’t be defined by whether or not she can take home more hardware– rather, she’s further solidifying her place as one of the greatest African Olympians of all time. Five Olympics is an incredible achievement, and the fact that Coventry at 32 years old is still capable of hustling to qualify for Olympic finals is absolutely worthy of recognizing.

The men showed up big today, too. South Africans Myles Brown and Chad Le Clos both sailed through prelims of the 200 free, while Le Clos will contend for a medal in the final after finishing 7th in the semifinals.

Le Clos, in both prelims and semis, went out like a rocket and managed to hold on, though he’ll have to come home harder or try another strategy to secure a medal tomorrow night. This isn’t Le Clos’ focus of the week, but he will be just the second African to appear in an Olympic final this meet after van der Burgh. Kudos are certainly in store for Christopher Reid of South Africa, who was tenths away from making the 100 back final in his first-ever Olympics.

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7 years ago

Doesn’t Coventry still have 200 back? That’s her better event, so I hope she finals in that.

7 years ago

One thing I’ve noticed, van Der burg’s apparently changed his style, between this meet and the world champs in 2015. Hands don’t come out of the water completely and comes out of the water more with his head and torso. Race strategy also looks more controlled. Anyone else noticed this?

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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