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Bouwer wins on debut
- Updated: December 21, 2009
By Mark Etheridge
Beijing Paralympic gold medallist Charl Bouwer recently transfered his pool prowess to the open water discipline when he won the annual Os Fees 1.5 kilometre swim in Theunissen, Free State.
In Beijing, Bouwer won the 400m freestyle event in world record time but the open water event on the Erfenis Dam was something else for the visually impaired athlete.
“It was very different to what I’m used to, and I have to admit I’ve always had a bit of a phobia about putting my head into dirty dam water. But it all went well and luckily, with my disability I wasn’t able to see any catfish swimming around.
“I had a guy on a paddle-ski next to me, just keeping me on the right path. From the beginning I tried to stay ahead so that I didn’t bump into the guys ahead of me and also so that they didn’t follow me if I went wrong.
“I had a nice lead for most of the way and then a guy from Bloemfontein, Christoff Botha, almost caught me and I had to put in a bit of a spurt at the end.”
The annual event attracted hundreds of swimmers and is organised by Springbok rugby legend, Os du Randt and his wife Hannellie. Du Randt farms in the area.
Bouwer recently wrote his matric exams and has recently moved from Kimberley to Stellenbosch where he plans to study Sports Science at Stellenbosch University. He is already training with the Maties swimming club under the guidance of Pierre de Raubaix. His former coach was Ebert Kleinhans.
And will there be more open-water adventures? “I definitely think so. I’d like to give the five and 10km distance a go, I’m just not sure exactly when.”