Fast times set scene at Joan

The 33rd South African National Masters swimming competition kicked off in style at the Joan Harrison Swimming Complex yesterday.

BREATHTAKING: Michael Swartz of the Amakhosi Masters Swimming club in the 800m at the Masters champs held in East London yesterday at the Joan Harrison Pool Complex Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

Host club Amakhosi Masters, Coelacanth Masters and Cape Town Masters had superb starts to the competition and picked up the most top placings on day one.

Amakhosi put in some great performances, with Frauk Leuhrs and Michael Swartz claiming first place finishes in the 800m freestyle event, while Peta-Jayne Nel, Bernice Robertson, Blaine Kruger and Terry Briceland – in his first competitive gala at 86 years old – all finished first in the 50m freestyle in their categories.

Amakhosi managed a further 11 second place and nine third place finishes across both distances.

Cape Town Masters claimed 11 first place finishes in the 50m freestyle across the various men and women’s divisions, while picking up five golds in the 800m freestyle event.

They also picked up eight second and 10 third place finishes.

Coelacanth managed seven first place finishes, six second and 12 third places over the day.

“I am over the moon. I think everything has gone very well [yesterday],” said Amakhosi Masters president Kerry Skidmore.

“The Buffalo City Municipality has really pulled out all the stops and made sure that the place is looking good.”

Yesterday saw the longest day of the nationals, with the 800m events taking place over most of the day.

The opening ceremony took place at 3:30pm, with all competitors doing a march past in their club colours, before a welcoming from a representative of Buffalo City, mayor Xola Pakathi, while the president of swim South Africa and president of Masters Swimming South Africa also spoke.

The final few 800m events followed, before the very exciting 50m freestyle event lit up the night.

The 50m individual medley events closed out the night of action, with some great races on show.

“We are getting to the high end of the swimming now. These guys are swimming really quick times and there could be a few world records but they will only be verified tomorrow,” said Skidmore.

Masters action continues today and tomorrow, and the final day of action at the Joan will take place on Saturday, with the open water swim on Sunday taking place at Wriggleswade Dam.

Masters action continues today with events from 8am in the morning until an expected 5pm finish.