Competitive African Swimmers on the Rise

Beth Harris, AP, July 27

MONTREAL, Canada—Roland Schoeman had just set a world record and won a gold medal at the World Swimming Championships. He took the dais and proclaimed, “Not bad for an African.” He’s not alone.

Hardly viewed as a swimming superpower, Africa is making waves in the pool.

Heading into the fourth day of the meet, African swimmers had won a total of five medals. By comparison, the United States has 12 medals overall and Australia eight.

That exceeds what the continent won at 10 previous world championships, and the Africans’ success has been even greater at the Olympics.

Many of the top swimmers honed their skills at American colleges and train in the United States, making them African in passport only.

Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe attends Auburn University in Alabama. She has won a gold and a silver in Montreal.

Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, who attends the University of Southern California, has a bronze. Schoeman, who won three medals at the Athens Olympics and trains in south Florida, has set two world records this week. Countryman Ryk Neethling has two bronze medals.

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[Note from AR: This piece of information comes two-thirds of the way into the article.]

Coventry is white, as are Schoeman and Neethling. Mellouli is an Arab.

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