Published April 23, 2012
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's Olympic swimmers can expect to be treated like kings and queens before the London Games.
Princess Charlene of Monaco, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, has invited the swim team to train in the principality in June for its final buildup to the games, Swimming South Africa said Monday.
Charlene Wittstock, who married Prince Albert of Monaco last year, will provide royal aid through training facilities and accommodations, SSA spokesman Godfrey Monei told The Associated Press.
Details are still to be worked out, Monei said, but the princess will host the athletes for about a week around the Mare Nostrum swim meet June 11-12.
The 34-year-old princess competed at the 2000 Games in Sydney, where she was part of South Africa's 4x100 freestyle relay team that finished fifth. She met Prince Albert the same year at the Mare Nostrum, where she was competing. Wittstock retired from competitive swimming in 2007 despite qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.
Monei said the princess had helped some South Africans with lodging for last year's Mare Nostrum, and she had indicated she would "definitely" help again before the July 27-Aug. 12 Olympics.
South Africa is expected to announce its final swim team for London about May 15, after which the princess would give more details on her offer, Monei said.
South Africa's swim federation hopes training in the glittering principality will spur its swimmers to a better performance in London. The swim team won no medals in Beijing.
South Africa's two best hopes for a medal are Cameron van der Burgh, the breaststroke world record holder, and rising star Chad le Clos, the 200-meter butterfly short-course world champion.
They were among nine swimmers to qualify for the Olympics at the weeklong South African nationals. The competition ended Sunday in Durban, where Princess Charlene used to live before marrying her prince and taking up residence in Monte Carlo.
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