Ryk Neethling

Ryk Neethling

Ryk Neethling is an Olympic Gold Medalist, three time World Champion, World Record holder and the only South African to compete in four Olympic Games.

Ryk was born in Bloemfontein and started swimming after a near drowning incident at age 5. An asthma sufferer, Ryk set his sights on the Olympics at age 10 and achieved it at the 1996 Olympics where he finished 5th in the 1500m freestyle.

He then moved to the United States to study at the University of Arizona, where he achieved unparalleled success by winning 9 individual national championships and being named the University of Arizona Athlete of the Century beating numerous NBA, NFL and golf stars.

At his 3rd Olympics in Athens, Greece Ryk and his 4x100 freestyle relay team shocked the swimming world to win in a new world record time beating the USA, Australia and Russia. It has been the only Olympic gold medal SA has won in 12 years. In 2006 he won three gold medals at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai and was named FINA World Cup Swimmer of the year in 2005 and 2006.

Ryk retired from international swimming after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing where the defending champions finished 7th in a new SA and African record. He is the currently owner of the Ryk Neethling Swimming Schools with 5 branches, Players Swimming Clubs and Swimming Stars International. He is also the marketing director and shareholder at Val de Vie Estate, a wine and polo estate in the Western Cape and manages Cameron van den Burgh current breaststroke World Record Holder. Ryk is passionate about SA and does a lot of work for charity with his own Ryk Neethling Foundation and is a patron of The Jacaranda Children’s Home, Ons Kinderhuis, CHOC and The Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Center for Africa.

Ryk talks about his dreams, years of preparation, disappointments and failures, quitting, making a comeback, setting goals, teamwork, confidence, charity and humility.

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