South Africa’s campaign fizzled to a quiet close on Sunday, with the nation’s last three performances ending in the morning heats on the final day of the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.
Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh again carried the national squad at a major championship, as they have done at global level in recent years, earning the country’s only two medals.
Le Clos reclaimed the 200m butterfly title he won in 2013, touching the wall in 1:53.33 to set his fastest time in nearly five years, though he settled for 12th position in defence of his 100m crown.
Van der Burgh earned bronze in the men’s 50m breaststroke, bagging his sixth career medal in the sprint event and clocking an African record of 26.54 in the heats.
The duo were the only SA swimmers to reach a final in the pool, while the national squad struggled to produce much of a challenge in other disciplines.
Michelle Weber was the best of the rest, finishing in a tie for seventh place in the women’s 5km open water swim, and Julia Vincent spearheaded the diving contingent, taking 12th position in the women’s three-metre springboard contest.
Neither of the SA water polo teams were able to secure a win, with the men’s and women’s sides ending in last place (16th), and the three synchronised swimming entries were outside the top 20 in their respective routines.
It was the SA team’s lowest medal haul at the global spectacle since 2003, as they struggled to display any real depth.
With Swimming SA unable to attract corporate support, most of the travel costs were covered by the team members and some did not make the trip due to financial constraints, including Olympic 50m freestyle finalist Brad Tandy.