Young SA team tested against top talent
GIULIO Zorzi, the less-famous training partner of Cameron van der Burgh, scored his biggest coup in an international event at the weekend when he clinched third spot in the overall male swimmer ranking of the tri-nations gala in Perth.
Calculated solely on performances, Zorzi's 27.73sec and second spot in the men's 50m breaststroke, behind Olympic silver medallist Christian Sprenger, earned him 889 points - enough to outshine a host of Games stars on the Australian and Chinese teams.
Myles Brown, who scored South Africa's only individual win when he beat Olympian Ryan Napoleon in the 800m freestyle, beat the Aussie again in the open-water competition, this time over 2.5km.
High Performance manager Dean Price was happy with the performances of the under-strength South African team, which had battled without the likes of Van der Burgh, Chad le Clos and Roland Schoeman.
The South African team in Perth had only five top-tier swimmers, the other 23 from the younger ranks.
"There's some really good talent," he said on his return from Perth yesterday. "It's a numbers game. The more youngsters we can have in international competition, the more potential Chads we can have."
For Price, the stand-outs included Nathania van Niekerk, celebrating her 14th birthday today, who swam well in the 100m backstroke, and the two male 200m breaststrokers, Jarred Crous and Alaric Basson, both 16.
"These guys are still at the age at which they can drop five to 10 seconds off their time in the next two or three years," he said.
Sprenger won all three breaststroke events, but his times in the 50m and 100m did not challenge Van der Burgh's world records.