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Wednesday, 17 February 2010 12:52

Records Tumble As Westville Boy's Win IP Gala


Traditionally, the Friday night of the Midmar weekend is always an exciting swimming evening at Westville Boys' High School and this year was no exception.  This is the evening that KZN Schools get a chance to swim against schools from around the country who are in KZN to compete in the Midmar Mile.

This year's WBHS Interprovincial was as exciting as ever with 7 records set and most races being extremely closely contested.  Of the visiting schools, Grey College from Bloemfontein can justifiably claim that they have been one of the top S.A. Swimming Schools for the last decade and were here to test the hosts who are the current S.A. Champions.

Also flexing their swimming muscles were St Davids (Inanda) from Gauteng who are deservedly ranked No 2 in Gauteng behind Pretoria Boys High. St Benedicts from Johannesburg, who have recently established themselves as a top aquatics school were also there to enjoy the competition.

Of the KZN schools, Clifton College has now become one of the leading Aquatics Schools in South Africa and their successes in the Water-Polo pool are in no small measure due to the growing crop of outstanding swimmers they possess.  They recently tied with Kearsney College as the Champions of the KZN Private Schools Gala.

Of the other local schools, DHS which has a proud swimming tradition, is always a force to be reckoned with, and although they are currently going through a re-building phase, they would always be in the mix. Hosts, Westville Boys' High, have been South Africa's swimming powerhouse for the last two years and are undisputed champions having not lost a gala since 2007.

At the Alan Burt Interprovincial Gala two weeks previously, Westville has brushed aside their 9 opponents from KZN and Gauteng to win 23 of the 29 events!  The hosts were slightly tense however, as they had not as yet competed against Grey College, who must certainly be the second best swimming school in the country.

The first 5 races - the 4 x 50 Free Style relays were all won by Westville, with the U14 and U15 races producing new records for the home team.  Grey College and Clifton College, St Davids and DHS fought it out for the other top 5 placings.

The 5 Breastroke races were not as clear cut.  Each race was closely contested and although Westville won the U14, U15 and U16 races, they were pushed close by Grey College each time.  The competition was so fierce in the U15 race that Westville had to knock 4 seconds off the record to beat Grey College!  The U16 race also proved a  scorcher , with Westville just edging out Grey in record time. The St David's U17 Breastroke team were in a league of their own, edging out Clifton College to beat the record set by DHS in 2008!  Clifton College turned the tables on their rivals to take the boys U19 Breastroke event.

Westville won 4 of the 5 Backstroke events - breaking the U14 and U16 records in the process, with Grey College edging out Westville in the U17 event.

The Butterflly events produced similar results with Westville winning all but the U19 race, where they were beaten by Clifton College. St David's managed to break total dominance by Westville in the Medley events by winning the U17 Medley event, while Westville won the rest and broke another two records in the process.

The final event of the evening - the 5 age group Freestyle Ladder Relay was a foregone conclusion with Westville having already won all the age-group freestyle relays.  This event did however, give the Westville Freestyle sprint stars the opportunity to show off their talents.  Christopher Gillespie, the U14 sensation started for his school and built up a comfortable 2.5 metre lead before U15 Clayton Jimmie hit the water.  By the time Byron Doyle the U16 sprint star had finished, the lead had opened to 6 metres.  This was slightly reduced when the St Davids swimmer gained half a metre on Westville's Tyler Fisher, but Chad le Clos - Westville's U19 international star, gobbled up the pool to leave St Davids finishing second, 8 metres adrift.

All in all, Westville won 21 of the 26 events with the U14, U15 and U16 age groups finishing all their races unbeaten.  These three age groups have yet to lose a race this year.

On a negative note, it is disappointing that Maritzburg College, a traditionally strong swimming school were not present this year and that Kearsney, Michaelhouse and Hilton are no longer part of this event.  These schools are denying their swimmers the opportunity to compete against the top swimmers from around the country and in the process undermining the continued growth of swimming in boys high schools.  It would appear that certain schools have the misconstrued notion that if they replace swimming with water-polo as a first term sport their water-polo will reach greater heights.  The trend internationally however goes in the opposite direction.The water polo powerhouses of the world rely on top notch swimmers to give them the edge over their rivals.The fact that South Africa's leading schools have not taken cognisance of this is constantly reflected by the dismal performances of our national water polo teams!

The final results of the WBHS INVITATIONAL GALA


1. WBHS - 227

2. Grey College - 188

3. St Davids - 163

3. Clifton College 163

5. DHS - 126

6. St Benedicts - 105

7.WBHS B - 74

8.Northwood - 69

9.Glenwood - 57

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