The 2017 South African Open Water Nationals competition took place over March 4th and 5th, where the nation’s top athletes vied for a spot on the World Championships roster. Only the top two finishers in the 5k and 10k event would be eligible for selection for Budapest.
Last year’s 10k winner, Chad Ho, was also victorious this time around with the racing held at Jeffreys Bay (JBay) in the Eastern Cape. The former World Champion and 3-time Olympian took the win over countrymen Nico Manoussakis and Danie Marais who claimed silver and bronze, respectively, in the 10k. For Manoussakis, this year was an especially sweet 2nd place finish, as the 22-year-old was disqualified in last year’s 10k race.
Of qualifying for Worlds, Ho commented via social media, “Completed the 10km finishing in 1st place! Was a good swim, happy with how it went! Congrats to Nico on finishing in 2nd! Hungry [sic] here we come!”
The tables were turned slightly in the men’s 5k the following day, however, as Marais wound up on top of the podium to punch his ticket to Budapest. The 24-year-old is currently under the tutelage of former World Champion-turned-coach Bobby Hurley, also guide to South African pool swimmer Chad Le Clos.
For Marais, his excitement was conveyed as follows, “Swam the race of my life today to win the 5km at Nationals!! Very happy after almost not being able to finish the 10km yesterday. It was a battle to the very end with reigning World Champ Chad Ho. Can’t wait to take on the best in the world with you brother.”
The women’s events saw Robyn Kinghorn take the 5k, while the women’s 10k went to Sasha-Lee Nordengen-Corris.