Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
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Back in the Swim

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What do the breast stroke, the butterfly and the end of apartheid have in common? That’s what two South African swimmers, one a current and one a former SMU student, will find out this summer at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Senior Cliff Lyne and 1991 graduate Craig Jackson are members of the first South African team to compete in the Olympics in 32 years.

Both swimmers, who trained at SMU in preparation for the Games, say they are pleased that the changes in their country’s racial policies will bring new opportunities for South African athletes of all colors. Jackson, who has been ranked as high as eighth in the world in his sport, says the once-outcast country must look for diversity in its athletic teams. In the past, legalized discrimination has greatly benefited white athletes, giving many of them the opportunity to travel and train overseas. In fact, five of the 12 South African swim team members were at one time SMU swimmers. It’s time, Jackson and Lyne agree, for the country to develop its black athletes.

Lyne says the Barcelona team will consist of many “colors.” But with South Africa’s history of racial strife, Lyne isn’t sure how they’ll be received.

“It’s going to be tough because the world just doesn’t know what to expect from us,” Lyne says. “They may just expect that we’re going to be racialistic animals, and we’re not. We will have something to prove.”