Ryk Neethling – Olympic Gold Medallist in Swimming


After taking part in the 2008 Summer Olympics, Ryk Neethling became the first South African to compete in four successive Olympic Games. The highlight of his career came in 2004, when he won the gold medal and set a new world record in the 4x100m freestyle relay along with Roeland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend, seeing off strong competition from the Netherlands and the United States.

Ryk has broken five world records and is a three-time World Champion. Other achievements include: FINA World Cup Swimmer of the Year for three consecutive years, University of Arizona Athlete of the Century, Manager and Mentor to 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, Marketing Director and shareholder of Val de Vie Estate and Elements Group of Companies (property, wine, hospitality) and Founder of Ryk Neethling Swimming Schools and Players Swim Clubs (six locations nationwide). Ryk is also Patron of Jacaranda and Louis Botha Children’s Home (Pretoria), Ons Kinderhuis (Bloemfontein), and Hope Through Action (Mbekweni, Groendal – WC).

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Ryk’s book ‘Chasing the dream’ is much more than the story of a triumphant sportsman. It is the story of a fiercely determined swimmer from Bloemfontein who overcame great odds to become an Olympic champion. In this autobiography, Ryk tells of his travels to the US to pursue his Olympic dream; the experience of winning gold in Athens in 2004; the murky world of steroids in sport; his ongoing battle with the sport’s administrators; his struggles with his Afrikaner identity; and his rejection of a multimillion-dollar offer to swim for another country. The title takes the story up to the end of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“There is really a lot of excitement for this event and I am really looking forward to be a part of it. I am honoured to be able to contribute, but as always I am looking forward to learning from the delegates as well. Africa is rising and our youth holds the key to this bright future” – Ryk Neetling

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