Arena Swimming International sponsors a number of players from all corners of the globe. Below is a selection of the current South African players supported by Arena Swimming.

Chad le Clos

Chad Le Clos (12 April, 1992) is a South African butterfly, IM, and freestyle swimmer whose performances in 2009 and 2010 have elevated him into the spotlight as a genuine medal contender at major international events, particularly in his favourite event, the 200m butterfly.

Le Clos’ impressive run of results started at Barcelona’s Mare Nostrum meet in June, 2009 where he placed second in the 400m IM, before participating in July’s World Championships in Rome. Despite not making the final in his two strongest events (the 400m IM and 200m fly), he placed in the top 20 in both, quite an accomplishment for a 17 year-old in his first year of senior international competition.

But it was in the 2009 FINA-Arena World Cup meets that he started making serious statements about his abilities. In the four competitions that he swam in, Chad won a total of three golds, three silvers, and two bronze medals. His wins came in the 400m IM (Durban, Berlin) and 200m butterfly (Durban), and it was in Berlin that he produced his most impressive performances of the year. While he didn’t medal in the 200m fly, he broke the African record in his heat, and then broke the African 400m IM record when he won the final. But he personally reserves the greatest accomplishment of his short career for his bronze in the 200m IM, where he finished 0.58 seconds behind Michael Phelps in a race in which compatriot Darian Townsend broke the world record.

Like 2009, 2010 was quite a year for Chad. On his 18th birthday in April at the South African Nationals, he swam the world’s fourth fastest 200m butterfly of the year (1:56.86), and followed this up in June with a repeat of his 2009 silver in the 400m IM at Barcelona’s Mare Nostrum meet. His year got even better in August at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore when he won gold in the 200m IM, along with silver medals in the 100m and 200m butterfly and 400m freestyle. So emphatic was his IM victory that it catapulted him into the top 25 in the world, and prompted The Swimmer’s Circle to write: “Times like le Clos’ give some serious legitimacy to the event, and assuages fears from several federations (notably the British) that the level of competition wasn’t worth the time and the money of sending a squad.”

In October, Le Clos once again stepped it up a notch at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where he won both the 200m fly and 400m IM, breaking the Games record in both. His phenomenal year culminated fittingly in a world title at the World Short Course Championships in Dubai, where he came from behind to snatch the 200m fly in a thrilling race. He also made the 400m IM final, finishing fifth.

Despite being a relative newcomer on the international swimming scene, Le Clos has announced himself as a real medal candidate for the 200m fly event at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, where he will no doubt build another block on the foundation of his ultimate dream – winning a medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Biography

South African Terence Parkin is deaf. But that hasn’t stopped him from living life to the full, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with those more fortunate than him. In 2000 at the Sydney Olympic Games, he demonstrated his determination and attitude to life by winning a silver medal in the 200m breaststroke. As an inspiring example he has affected many, not least Chad Le Clos, who adopted him as his hero and has since become his friend. Chad makes no secret that Terence played a major part in his deciding to take up swimming seriously and giving up football, a passion than runs through his family.

That Chad chose Terence as a role model says much about his character, his values, and what is required of the human spirit to overcome obstacles to succeed. But for all his success in 2009 and 2010, he has kept his feet on the ground, thanks also to the influence of his family and coach Graham Hill, with whom he has trained for close to a decade in his hometown of Durban, South Africa. In a 2010 interview, Swimming World TV suggested his progress and his chosen events bear similarities with that of Michael Phelps. Flattered yet somewhat self-conscious, he offered his modest reply: “I wish”.

Given his tight family bonds, it was disappointing for all of them that parents Bert and Geraldine could not afford to be at his first major international victory at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, due to the chemotherapy treatment his mother was undergoing at the time for breast cancer. It was his – and his parents’ – proudest moment, prompting tears at home and near-tears on the podium, but it’s a feeling he’s gradually becoming more familiar with as his career has taken off since then. The growing confidence and self-belief bred by his Delhi successes brought him a World Short Course title in Dubai in 2010 and took him to the pinnacle of the sport, but he still remains level-headed, acknowledging that he might have been a tad fortunate to touch first in a very tight race.

His successes are just reward for all the hard work he’s put in, something that he readily acknowledges is necessary. Sacrifice is part of the deal, and means that he can’t go on a night out with his friends to celebrate his birthday due to his intense training schedule. “You only get one shot at it,” he says with philosophical insight. He’s nothing if not disciplined, as well as loyal, and despite the appeal of a possible US swimming scholarship, Chad currently remains committed to coach Graham Hill and local Seagulls Swimming Club.
Just as Chad chose his hero with a maturity beyond his years, youngsters in his home town and beyond could do far worse than follow his fine example.

Name / Lastname: Chad Le Clos

Country: South Africa
Date of Birth: April 12, 1992
Age: 25
Height: 195 cm
Weight: 83 Kg

Discipline: Ind. Medley, Butterfly, Freestyle
Coach: Graham Hill

TOP ACHIEVEMENTS – INTERNATIONAL MEDALS

2012 
Olympic Games – London
Gold 200m Butterfly
Silver 100m Butterfly

World Championships (SC) – Istanbul
Gold 100 m butterfly
Silver 50 m butterfly

2011
All-Africa Games – Maputo
Gold 200 m butterfly
Gold 200 m medley
Gold 400 m medley
Gold 4×100 m freestyle
Gold 4×100 m medley
Silver 100 m butterfly

2010
World Championships – Dubai 
Gold 200m Butterfly

Commonwealth Games – Delhi 
Gold 200m Butterfly
Gold 400m Ind Medley
Silver 4x100m Medley Relay
Bronze 4x200m Freestyle Relay

South African Long Course Nationals
Gold 200m Butterfly

Youth Olympic Games – Singapore
Gold 200m Ind Medley
Silver 100m, 200m Butterfly
Silver 400m Freestyle

Sette Colli – Pescara 
Gold 200m Butterfly

SA short-course Championships – Pietermaritzburg
Gold 400m Ind Medley
Gold 200m Freestyle

Mare Nostrum – Barcelona
Silver medal 400m Ind Medley

Cameron van der Burgh

Cameron van der Burgh (23) is a South African swimmer and is considered one of the strongest breaststrokers in the world over short distance (50 and 100m breaststroke).

Van der Burgh’s first major international medal came at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, where he won bronze in the 50m breaststroke. In 2008, he captured the attention of the world’s swimming fans by winning the award for Best Male Swimmer Overall at the FINA-Arena World Cup (short course), in the process breaking three world records (short course) in Moscow and Stockholm.

On 9th November, 2008, in Moscow, the young South African champion clocked an outstanding 56.88 in 100m breaststroke, improving on Ed Moses’s 2002 record of 57.47 by almost one second. A day before at the same event, Cameron swam the 50m breaststroke in 26.08 in eclipsing Ukrainian Oleg Lisogor’s record of 26.17. Three days later in Stockholm, Van der Burgh became the first man in the world to break the 26-second wall in 50m breaststroke, swimming a time of 25.94.

But his rise to true international fame came with his 50m breaststroke title at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, where he won in a new world record of 26.67, having set a new world mark the day before in the semi-finals (26.74). At the same championships he also won a bronze medal in 100m breaststroke. He finished the year off in fine style by winning his second successive FINA-Arena World Cup top ranking. On consecutive days at the Berlin leg of the World Cup series, Van Der Burgh broke his own world SC records for both 50m and 100m with times of 25.25 and 55.61 respectively.

In 2010 the South African champion confirmed his international supremacy as one of the world’s strongest breaststrokers. At the October Commonwealth Games, he won gold in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and at the World Short Course Championships in Dubai in December, he won the world title for the 100m breaststroke, while picking up a silver medal at the 50m distance.

By his high standards, Cameron’s 2011 World Championships in Shanghai failed to live up to his 2009 performances, but he nonetheless won two bronze medals at 50m and 100m, swimming the fastest-ever 50m textile time in the semi-finals (26.90). But he was building towards one goal – an Olympic medal.

Van Der Burgh more than realized his dream at London in 2012, as he won the 100m breaststroke in a world record time (58.46). After his victory, Van Den Burgh remembered fellow Elite Team member Alexander Dale Oen, his Norwegian breaststroke rival, training partner and close friend who died tragically last April of heart failure. “I just have to pay tribute to Alexander Oen. I know he has been with me this year. He helped me finish the race in such a strong manner. Alexander pushed me in training, and it made me realize I had to go faster to win gold. That is what we trained for and that is what we have achieved.”

There are few swimmers who can claim to holding all four world records (long and short course) in their two chosen disciplines at the same time. Cameron Van Der Burgh is one of them. Not only that, his last world record was set in the process of winning an Olympic gold record. These are the statistics that dreams are made of.

Biography

In a sports-mad country where team sports such as rugby, cricket, and football reign supreme, and where golfers such as Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen are the most revered amongst the individual sports, South African breaststroker Cameron Van der Burgh has achieved a rare feat – he’s a swimming celebrity. No doubt that has something to do with his Olympic gold medal, four world records and two world titles, but he also has a smile, physique, and personality to go with it.

Aside from his achievements in the pool, he became the face of South Africa at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India as he carried the country’s flag at the opening ceremony. By then, however, he had already become known as more than simply a world-class swimmer, having entered South African homes and hearts as Mr. February in The Cosmopolitan Sexiest SA Men Calendar 2010.

Born in Pretoria in 1988, Van Der Burgh still does most of his training in his home town. Coach Dirk Lange of Germany says that “he doesn’t know the meaning of fear”, although he might not have agreed with that on one particular occasion, when he genuinely feared for his life – while out with a friend in a rubber tube on the ocean, a killer whale leapt out of the water just 10m away. “It was close to us, and it was huge,” he remembered, “and I thought, ‘this is it’.” Needless to say, they survived unscathed.

Other encounters with wildlife include finding himself sitting next to a baboon that invaded his family’s car looking for food – it found some licorice – when he and his family were holidaying in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. He was just 11. A few years later on a training camp as a 14-year-old, he recalls his toughest ever set, swimming 15km in a river just outside the same Kruger Park, in water he describes as “blisteringly cold” – while some of the younger swimmers were allowed to stop, he was “encouraged” to finish the set by the trainers who had already recognized his potential.

One of Cameron’s great swimming friends was Norwegian breaststroker Alexander Dale Oen, who died tragically just three months before the London Olympics. Aside from being a rival, he was also a training partner, and out of the pool they spent valued time together. The “friend” in the killer whale story above was Dale Oen, who as a student of photography gave Cameron tips on his passion beyond the pool – taking photographs of all the places on his travels.

At the 100m breaststroke final in London, Dale Oen’s parents sat with Van Der Burgh’s, and after winning the race he looked skyward, clearly thinking of Dale Oen. “In 2007 and 2008, Alex helped me so much and took me under his wing,” said Cameron. “When I touched the wall tonight, I looked up to the sky and thought he was probably looking down, laughing and saying: ‘How can you go that time?’ He really had such an influence on my career.”

This is a hint of how Cameron views his sport, his talent, and his good fortune – never to forget the human factor in anything (and not just swimming), and to share your experiences… even to remember a lost friend at the proudest moment of his own life.

Name / Lastname: Cameron Van der Burgh

Country: Republic of South Africa
Place/date of Birth: Pretoria (RSA), May 25 1988

Age: 25
Height: 184cm
Weight: 76kg
Team /Club: Players Academy
Discipline: Breaststroke
Coach: Graham Hill
Place of training: Pretoria
Twitter profile: http://twitter.com/Cameronvdburgh

TOP ACHIEVEMENTS – INTERNATIONAL MEDALS

2012
Olympic Games – London
Gold 100m Breaststroke

2011
World Championships – Shanghai
Bronze 50m Breaststroke
Bronze 100m Breaststroke

2010
World Championships (SC) – Dubai 
Gold 100m Breaststroke
Silver 50m Breaststroke

Commonwealth Games – New Delphi
Gold 50m Breaststroke
Gold 100m Breaststroke

2009
World Championships – Rome
Gold 50m Breaststroke

2008
Fina Arena World Cup (25m)
Overall men winner FINA/ARENA World Cup

World Championships (25m) – Manchester
Silver 100m Breaststroke
Bronze 50m Breaststroke

2007
World Championships – Melbourne
Bronze 50m Breaststroke