Four East London waterpolo players, Tumi MacDonell, Hanna Muller, Paige and Chloe Meecham, are in Japan at the 2023 World Aquatic Championships, making history alongside their SA women’s teammates.
This comes after the South African women claimed victory over Argentina in the final group stages of the championships and then went on to play New Zealand on July 26 ending up with a score of 25-6 to New Zealand.
Though South Africa has not made the quarter finals stage this is the first ever the side has reached the final top 12 rankings.
Ahead of the event, MacDonell confirmed that the side was focused and determined on beating Argentina, having narrowly lost to them last year.
This is SA’s best-ever world championship result after finishing 13th last year, under the coaching direction of Delaine Christian and Paige Meecham, the latter of whom is the head coach this year.
Buffalo City Schools waterpolo chair Andrew Reeves said the East London waterpolo community was immensely proud of the four local players who have contributed immeasurably to the sport as coaches and players.
He said their achievements provide a blueprint for younger players who have international aspirations in the sport.
Reeves said: “They [Muller, MacDonell and the Meechams] have put in a lot of work over the years because performing at this level does not happen overnight.
“What is significant to note is that all four of these ladies are alumni of Stirling High School and all four have been through the Buffalo City waterpolo structures and stand as a testament to the excellence of school and regional waterpolo.”
Swimming SA head, Alan Fritz said the achievements of the four East London players proves that Buffalo City is the heart of national aquatics.
Fritz hopes that the sport will grow to include more club-based participation, which will act as feeding pools for the national teams.
This will enable Swimming SA to train athletes over a longer period for the national side, which will build on the last two years of internationally excellent waterpolo displayed by SA women’s team.
Fritz said: “I am extremely proud of the team and particularly the leadership who has put in so much effort and passion for the game.
“The loyalty and dedication is unbelievable and it makes me immensely proud as the leader of the federation.
“I have no doubt we will get to a level in waterpolo that will make us competitive against the best in the world.
“Swimming SA is acutely aware of the talent we have in ladies’ waterpolo.
“The performance of the ladies is a very clear indication that we have the talent to compete and going through to the playoffs is a step in the right direction creating a level of psychology and motivation that speaks to our ability and self-belief.”