By Quintin van Jaarsveld
Shelly Beach swimming sensation Samantha Labuschagne will test her mettle against top international competition in the first event of the 2015 Mare Nostrum Series, the 28th edition of the International Meeting of Canet en Roussilion, which takes place in Canet, France next weekend.
The 15-year-old will on Sunday depart with the rest of the KwaZulu-Natal elite squad on their European excursion and link up with a strong South African contingent that includes Olympic, world and Commonwealth Games champion Chad le Clos.
“I’m very excited for this trip,” Labuschagne, the only South Coast swimmer included in the provincial elite squad (selected based on FINA points earned), told eHowzit.
“It’s a huge honour to be selected for the KZN elite squad.
“I’m a bit nervous as it will be the first time I’m away from my parents and by myself, but mentally I’m very excited and can’t wait for the incredible experience I’ll gain from this trip.”
The highly-gifted Labuschagne has been a superstar for her club Blue Ocean Aquatics and her consistent top-calibre performances at club, provincial and national level have earned her the moniker “Super Sam.”
Her international debut will see her compete in the 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke events.
Despite her young age, Labuschagne has a mature outlook on her swimming career and isn’t putting too much pressure on herself.
“I’m going to this event to race against top, world-class swimmers and for the experience of racing internationally.”
She’ll also be in action in the second round of the series in Barcelona, Spain from 10-11 June.
Swimming South Africa CEO Shaun Adriaanse is confident Labuschagne and the rest of the national stars will do South Africa proud.
“We are extremely happy with the swimmers competing at this year’s Mare Nostrum Series and look forward to them showcasing exceptional world-class performances,” he said.
“Following their solid performances at the SA National Aquatic Championships in April, the swimmers are completely focused on preparing themselves both physically and mentally for the forthcoming FINA World Championships in Kazan in July,” he added.