As the South African swimming contingent will not be participating at this year’s BHP Billiton Aquatics Super Series held in Australia, as they did in 2013 and 2014, Swimming South Africa (SSA) is pursuing an alternative plan to offer more local competition opportunities to its elite roster this year.
According to media outlet “Super Sport”, SSA Chief Executive, Shaun Adriaanse, confirmed that the federation has launched two Grand Prix events for 2015 – one to be held in Stellenbosch and one planned for Durban. The Stellenbosch locale is scheduled to be the first Grand Prix stop, with its dates slated for February 14-15, while Durban will occur quickly after on February 21-22.
In planning the competitions, Adriaanse considered looking at the possibility of hosting a FINA World Cup event; however, he told Super Sport that with a “once-off event per annum and the resources you require to state that event”, their organization would be better to host their own competition.
Since the closure of their sponsorship relationship with Telkom back in 2011, SSA has been in need of a major sponsor and is looking to close on a broadcasting rights deal for these Grand Prix events, in the hopes of it helping to secure a title sponsorship.
Without the BHP Billiton on its schedule this year, SSA was concerned that the South African Short Course and South African Nationals meets did not provide enough high-level competition for elites. Super Sports has quoted Adriaanse as saying that “although there is greater hope that the local Grand Prix [events] would grow into internationally recognized events, the primary focus is to provide opportunities for local athletes.”