2019 marks the third year since Mr Alan Fritz took over the reins of Swimming South Africa (SSA). Kasie Focus editorial team, NGWAKO MACHETHE and NAKAMPE LEKWADU sat down with this seasoned and well respected administrator at the SASCOC offices to find out his achievements so far and the future plans for Swimming South Africa.
Planning big…the president of Swimming South Africa, Alan Fritz says all is well and are raring to go for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The former John Bisseker Senior Secondary pupil was born and raised in East London in the Eastern Cape where his role in the development of swimming in South Africa is well documented. He still vividly remembers how his interest for the sport begun about three decades ago at the time when swimming pools in disadvantaged communities did not exist and the kids swam in the Buffalo River and the poorly maintained segregated beaches.
Young and energetic as he has been, Fritz whose interest for swimming began in 1978 formed the Piranhas Aquatic Club in 1981which was aimed at developing swimming skills in his home town and he served as the general secretary of the anti-apartheid, Amateur Swimming Association of Border (ASAB). After the fall of apartheid, he served as the Chairperson of the Governing Body and vice president of Swimming South Africa.
Swimming has been one of the best performing sports for South Africa when it comes to big events, which includes the Olympics games over the years. Out of the total 86 medals that the country has won over the years, 18 are from swimming. Does the past glory put any pressure on the president? “As president of Swimming South Africa, my target has been to double the number of swimmers, build more swimming pools in disadvantaged communities and increasing the number of female swimmers,” he said with a calming smile. He emphasised that the communities needs to change their cultural and mind-set in order to grow the sport. “With roughly 60% of the future Model C schools being black now, let’s utilize those facilities to grow the sport among the black communities”, he added.
The municipalities are also coming to the party now, with the City of Jo’burg committing planning to build five swimming pools – in Soweto, and Johannesburg. “This will encourage other potential partners to come on board and hopefully other municipalities can follow suit,” pointed out Fritz.
“It will not be easy to see another Thabang Moeketsi, who himself has not reached his full potential after a promising future,” added Fritz. Thabang, who started swimming in a public pool in Moletsane in Soweto was in the preliminary Olympics squad that was going to Beijing 2008. He specialized in 100m, 200m breaststroke as well as 4 x 100m medley relay. Thabang made his name after 2004 Commonwealth Games and a Silver medal in the 2007 All Africa Games. “We need to train 2000 to 3000 instructors or coaches yearly if we are to fully realize the potential that we have as a country when it comes to swimming – most of the people that we train end up working as guards in our coastal areas,” pointed out Fritz.
After Telkom’s sponsorship lapsed with the organization, SSA are hoping that Fritz’s vast experience in the co-operate world (Divisional Manager of Human Resources at Mercedes Benz, the Divisional Head of Human Resources at DaimlerChrysler, Chairman of The Board at Incentammed, General Manager of Corporate Affairs at Sanlam Healthcare, Managing Director at Sanlam Healthcare Distribution Services, Chief Operating Officer at Bestmed Medical Scheme, Divisional Head Africa Sales at Liberty, and he is currently the Group Executive Director of Umvuzo Health) will help them secure another sponsorship soon.
“We are in the advanced stages with the potential sponsorship for SSA and the country will be informed as soon as everything is in black and white”, he said. Even after the retirement of one of South African swimming sensation, Cameron van der Burgh last year, “our aim is still to bring home at least three medals from Tokyo 2020.