The search for South Africa’s next top swimmers will continue as the 2019 season kicks off with the Grand Prix Series in Nelspruit over the weekend.
The annual series was launched in 2016 with the hopes of unearthing the next generation of international contenders.
Some of the country’s top performers such as Chad le Clos and Tatjana Schoenmaker will not take the early-season trip to South Africa’s Lowveld.
It does not mean the pool would be drained of any top-quality swimmers with some of the best rising female stars dipping their toes in the water over the weekend.
Only two years ago there was a panic over the lack of top female swimmers coming through the ranks.
It may still be early days but there is a reason for optimism with the likes of Erin Gallagher, Rebecca Meder and Dune Coetzee showing serious promise.
The trio is expected to dominate the Nelspruit gala that will be held as timed finals on Saturday and Sunday.
Gallagher seems to be living up to her promise after a stellar 2018 where she featured in finals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Swimming Short-Course Championships in
She raced in the women’s 100m freestyle final in Hangzhou where she finished in eighth place with a time of 53.14.
The 16-year-old Coetzee won the 200m butterfly silver at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympics to became the first South African female to win a medal in the pool at the Games.
Coetzee will have a packed schedule where she has been entered for the 100m and 200m butterfly, the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle events.
Rising teenage star Rebecca Meder, who made her senior debut at the World Short-Course Championships will be among the busiest swimmers over the weekend.
She is should feature in the 200m and 400m Individual Medley, the 200m breaststroke and the 200m freestyle.
The women’s 200m freestyle could be one of the top races over the weekend with Meder, Gallagher and Coetzee taking each other on.
Gallagher and Coetzee will go head-to-head in the 100m butterfly which should be a mouth-watering tussle.
South African swimming stalwart Ayrton Sweeney will be among the top male swimmers in Nelspruit where he will be swimming the 200m freestyle, 200m and 400m Individual Medley and the 200m breaststroke.