I was having a discussion with a swimming cohort the other day, and we were pondering whether or not South African breaststroker Suzaan van Biljon had retired or not. We hadn’t heard much from her since 2008, but at the same time couldn’t find any official announcement of her retirement.
This is exciting news for a South African women’s team that is fighting to attain the level of success as the men’s program has. Van Biljon is the African short-course record holder in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and placed 5th in Beijing in the 100 after prelims, before a poor semi-final knocked her out of the running. She also took gold at the 2008 Short Course World Championships in Manchester in the 200 breaststroke. While she’s not setting her goals too high for next weekend (she’s only been back in training for 3 months after 2 years off), she said she would be pleased with a World’s qualifying mark. She is really setting her sights on the London 2012 Olympic trials as her main focus. However, since shes’ only 22 years old, there’s no rush for her.
Needless to say, we were EXTREMELY excited when we got a hold of her and she confirmed that she would be returning to competition next weekend at the South African World Championship trials. In her own words, she “just kinda slipped slipped away and finished my studies.”
She’s now back and training with Graham Hill, one of the top coaches in South Africa, at the Seagull Swimming Club. The SSC is located outside of Durban, and is home to many top athletes, including the swimming world’s new junior-darling Chad le Clos.