U15 swimmer, Michael Duckham

U15 swimmer, Michael Duckham

The 51st running of the Alan Burt Gala was hosted by St Stithians. Swimming at altitude is always a bit more taxing for the coastal schools. That is always of some concern to Westville’s coaches as most of their swimmers compete mainly at sea level.

The gala was first swum in 1966 by Parktown, DHS, Maritzburg College and King Edward and has grown to a 10 school gala with five schools from  KZN and five from north of the Vaal river. Over the years the gala has been won by King Edward and DHS fourteen times each and by Maritzburg College, nine times. Newcomers to the gala, Westville, were invited to participate 11 years ago and after finishing second in their initial appearance,  have won the gala 9 times in a row.  Westville has remained unbeaten in South Africa in team relay galas since 2008 and was hoping to make it 10 successive undefeated years in a row. The Alan Burt Gala furthermore,   is always a good tester regarding  a school’s swimming depth as the programme is longer with extra events, compared to traditional relay galas.

Westville started off well winning 10 out of the first 12 events, losing only in the open age group to Pretoria Boys on both occasions.  Westville won ten out of the next 12 events to build up a lead in the gala.

St Davids won the open Freestyle relay and WBHS won the rest of the races to claim their 10th consecutive win in this traditional gala. They were presented with the trophy by outgoing St Stithians Headmaster, Mr David Knowles.

Westville U14, U15 and U16 age groups did not lose a race at the gala and the U17s only lost one.

The short but intense boys’ high school swimming programme continues this week with the top KZN schools competing against each other  on Wednesday 8 February at Kearsney. This is followed  on Friday 10th February  by the Westville Invitational  Gala which pits the likes of Grey College Bloemfontein against the top KZN and Gauteng  schools. This gala is probably the most fiercely contested and exciting boys’ high school relay gala in the country and certainly a must to watch for any swimming fan.

Results of the Alan Burt Gala – 2017

  1. WBHS – 292
  2. St David’s – 255
  3. Pretoria Boys’ – 221
  4. St Stithians – 178
  5. Glenwood – 198
  6. Kearsney – 146
  7. Maritzburg College – 136
  8. KES – 127
  9. Parktown – 59
  10. DHS  – 39