SwimSA Saved at Last Minute by SASCOC and FINA with R4.2 Million, USD 245K

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here

In a country where cricket, soccer and rugby soak up all the media and sponsors, 21 year old Chad Le Clos became a nationally-celebrated icon after beating his idol Michael Phelps in the 200 metre butterfly in London. He would also capture a silver medal behind Phelps in the 100 metre butterfly, while teammate Cameron van der Burgh would win gold in the 100m breaststroke.

Despite canvassing for nearly a year for new sponsorship and coming up dry, SwimSA was assisted at the last minute by the government, SASCOC and FINA who collectively raised R4.2 million ($425k) to help ease the financial burden on the swimming body. The money will fund the trip to World Champs, and also be reallocated to development programs.

You’d think that with the type of success that South Africa had in London, funding would be a non-issue, but in spite of their medal winning performance, the medal haul wasn’t enough to keep Swimming South Africa’s main sponsor – Telkom – from being able to maintain their main sponsorship role.

After London the financially-beleaguered African telecom provider withdrew their annual $1.25 million sponsorship of SwimSA. With sponsorship money gone, and their coffers running dry, there were concerns that some of the South African swimmers going to World Championships would have to pay part of their own way.

As recently as March, SwimSA chief-executive-o’swimming Shaun Adriaanse admitted that while they would be sending athletes to Barcelona, they’d have to personally fund their own flights accommodations.

The South African swimmers going to Barcelona:

Myles Brown
Chad le Clos
Michael Meyer
Darren Murray
Roland Schoeman
Leith Shankland
Cam van der Burgh
Gerhard Zandberg
Giulio Zorzi
Jessica Ashleigh-Cooper
Trudi Maree
Vanessa Mohr
Tara Nicholas
Kyna Pereira
Karin Prinsloo
Marlies Ross
Rene Warnes

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If only swimming could get half the attention that soccer and rugby get worldwide…

I find it troubling that a sport as high profile during the Olympics as swimming (although, true, the recent popularity of it during the Olympics could be attributed to the Phelps phenomenon) has problems maintaining that profile during the rest of the time.


We should try to figure out what must be done to maintain swimming floating in the media and a big audience preoccupied with it at all times, also when there are no championships going on. In other words, how to avoid the fading-away effect after the Olympics as someone put it nicely on the comment section on this site. The solution isn’t adding more championships as it only dilutes the dignity of the most important meetings in the eyes of public. However, competing is the only way. My recommendation is a strong World Cup. In biathlon they have managed to create very strong World Cup which is interesting to follow. Biathlon gathers a total of over 500 million TV spectators… Read more »


It is sad to see SA swimming in this current state. Here in Canada we face many of the same problems with all of our sponsorship money going to a single sport, Ice Hockey. Our swimming program is far behind South Africa’s in terms of results and it is sad to see Olympic Champions unable to find the money required to let them compete at the level required with these financial worries resting on their shoulders.


Canadians, I share your pain and you’re definitely not alone. Ice Hockey collects the lion’s share of sponsorship money in Finland too. That’s not all, though. In addition to the hegemony of sponsporship money, ice hockey enjoys a substantial support coming from a public treasury especially in the form of construction and maintenance of expensive ice halls.


This is where unfortunately Dubai comes in, and lures athletes to represent the UAE.
Hope it doesn’t happen

It already has happened. Qatar offered Schoeman a million a year to swim for them. (He declined.) Croatian Olympic silver medalist Duje Draganja did accept a similar offer tho.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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