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Change the world

12/09/2023

Madibaz breaststroke exponent Dylan Botha, who is fascinated by the subtle complexities of the stroke, will put his technique to the test at the University Sports South Africa gala this weekend.

Armed with a good technique, Madibaz’s breaststroke maestro Dylan Botha is ready to do battle at the University Sports SA championships in Gqeberha on Saturday and Sunday.

The 20-year-old is a member of the Nelson Mandela University team that will compete at the Newton Park pool in Gqeberha on Saturday and Sunday.

Botha, who has also entered the odd butterfly event, has set himself the goal of clocking personal best times, which he hopes will ultimately help him qualify for the World University Games and Olympics.

“Achieving those times is the plan for this season,” said the mechanical engineering student.

“I’m happy to be coming off some good performances at the SA short-course championships, which I felt kept me on track to meet the qualifying standards for the World University Games.”

Botha took up the sport as soon as he was old enough to swim and quickly developed an intense love affair with the water.

His first love was the butterfly but a troublesome shoulder eventually forced him to adopt a different stroke.

“It developed a complication when I was 15 and from there I transitioned to a breaststroker,” explained Botha, who grew up in Pretoria.

“As it turned out, I have grown to love the complexity and challenges that breaststroke provides as you aim to minimise drag. I think that comes from my passion for engineering.”

The year off during Covid had been a blessing in disguise as it reinvigorated his love for the sport, he admitted.

This weekend he will compete in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events, the 100m butterfly as well as the 200m and 400m individual medleys.

Heading into the USSAs, Botha and his team have been working on strength and specifically to use the kick more in the stroke.

“Stroke efficiency is the main area that is worked on in the pool,” he explained. “Plus the ability to swim past your pain limit by improving mentally.”

He will need those qualities when facing his peers.

“The quality of the performances at the USSAs is typically high as most of the top athletes in the country compete in the event. And everyone is trying to achieve the qualifying times to make the national team.”

Familiar conditions in Gqeberha would be his closest ally, he believed.

“For example, there will be no worries about what the starting blocks are like, or the water quality or temperature. I train in the pool and this knowledge will reduce stress.”

Madibaz Sport swimming manager Melinda Goosen said the gala would comprise men’s and women’s divisions with 110 swimmers from nine institutions competing.

The programme includes individual events in all strokes as well as men’s, women’s and mixed relays.

UP-Tuks won the competition in 2021 and last year and the likes of Stellenbosch and Varsity College should field strong teams too.

Goosen said most of the universities had grown in strength and therefore believed the gala would be fiercely contested.

“From a Madibaz point of view, we have been able to enter a bigger team.”

Dylan Botha, Xavier Beukes and Abigail Swanepoel should deliver top results for the team, who will also aim to do well in the relays.

Contact information
Mr Riaan Osman
Deputy Director
Tel: 041 504 2170
riaan.osman@mandela.ac.za