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Ryk Neethling (1981 - )

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Ryk Neethling (1981 - ) Awarded for:
Excellent achievements in the field of swimming.

Profile of Ryk Neethling

Ryk Neethling was born one of three siblings to Ryk and San-Marie Neethling in the Free State on 17 November 1977. He attended Grey College and matriculated in 1995.

Neethling's parents insisted that he take swimming lessons, when at the age of six, he nearly drowned in a neighbour's swimming pool. It became obvious that he had a talent for swimming and he quickly came to dominate school swimming competitions. At the age of 17, Neethling received a swimming scholarship from the University of Arizona in the United States of America where he enrolled in 1996.

At the institution, Neethling became a nine-time National Collegiate Athletic Association national champion, only the second to achieve this honour at the university. For his achievements, he was voted the university's Athlete of the Year for four successive years. In 1999, Neethling received the highest honour in intercollegiate swimming when he was named Swimmer of the Year. In 2000, Neethling received the Sapphire Award. In honour of his achievements in sport, the University of Arizona awarded him the prestigious award of Athlete of the Century.

At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, Neethling finally achieved his dream of winning a gold medal at the Olympics for his country – having twice failed to do so previously – when he and his team mates won the 4x100 m freestyle relay with a record-breaking time of 3.13.17.

In the 2004/05 Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (Fina) World Cup series, Neethling continued his success in the pool by dominating the 200 m freestyle and 100 m, breaking records with his outstanding swimming capabilities.

Neethling has held over 20 junior national records and 22 South African national titles. He has represented his country in three Commonwealth Games and three Olympics Games, where he has been a finalist five times. He is ranked among the top 10 swimmers in the world. Neethling is the current African and South African record holder in the 200 m, 400 m and 800 m freestyle and 100 m butterfly.

Ryk Neethling is back in the country and looking forward to compete for South Africa in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. His swimming prowess has ensured that he will go down in history as one of the world's best swimmers.

In his own country, he has become one of its most feted and beloved sportspeople and he has ensured that the sport of swimming has developed into one of the country’s most popular.

The accomplished swimmer, Ryk Neethling currently, resides in Pretoria, where he trains at the national training centre under the watchful eye of national swimming coach director Dirk Lange.