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Lifestyle/Community

SA Masters in the swim at national championship

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JULIE LEIBOWITZ

Twenty four clubs across South Africa took part in the annual championship, which consists of individual and team heats ranging in five-year age groups from 30 to 90 years old. The event is held at different locations around South Africa every year.

Hurwitz, who lives in Johannesburg, won gold for the 100m, 200m, and 50m breaststroke, and for the 50m butterfly heats. She won silver for the oldest relay – of which the oldest member of the team was 81 years old – and bronze for the mixed relay.

This 70+ year old’s achievements are all the more extraordinary because she underwent surgery on both knees just 11 months ago.

“My doctor said I would never do breaststroke again,” says Hurwitz, who has taught swimming for 53 years and is a veteran of the Maccabi Games and numerous dam swims, including the Midmar, Cradle Moon, and Sun City Mile.

“I kept swimming,” she says of her rehabilitation process, “and I walk in water for four to five hours a day.” She says she is due for a follow-up consultation with her doctor – and hopes to surprise him.

Hurwitz’s team, known as The Coelocanths, goes by the catch phrase “ancient, but not extinct”. This team consists of 90 people from Masters Clubs in Johannesburg and Pretoria. She was one of only two Jewish members of the team, which included Selwyn Sundelowitz.

Sundelowitz, also based in Johannesburg, participated in the 65 to 69-year-old category, and won three medals. He took home a silver medal for the 3km open water, bronze for the 800m freestyle, and bronze for the 200m backstroke.

Victory Park resident and professional swimming coach Roy Lotkin, part of team Water Born, also came out swimming, winning five medals.

Lotkin won one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals for the 400m individual medley, 200m butterfly, 200m breaststroke, 3km open water, and 4m x 50m freestyle relay.

Lotkin, who is also a Maccabi veteran, set his first South African record at the age of 12. His open-water swim was conducted in a lagoon in Port Elizabeth, which he describes as having its own challenges including salt water, currents, and marine life. The 1km and 3km open-water events are the highlight of the championship.

Three world records and five South African national records were set at this year’s championship, which pitted some of the best athletes in the country against each other.

Lotkin describes the championship as highly competitive, eliciting a great deal of adrenaline and psyching up among competitors. Hurwitz describes her teammates as “hyper-fit”.

Both Lotkin and Sundelowitz are preparing to participate in the FINA World Masters Championships to be held in South Korea in mid-July.

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