Ryk Neethling

Swimmer

At the age of six, Ryk took his first swimming lesson, after nearly drowning in a neighbour’s pool in his hometown of Bloemfontein.

Today, he has become one of the faces of South African sport, having earned an impressive collection of Olympic, World Championships and Commonwealth Games medals as well as two overall World Cup series titles, four world records, and far too many national and continental records to count. His most recent exploits saw him bagging three world titles at the World Short Course Championships in Shanghai in April. But what he is probably most famous for is anchoring the South African 4x100m freestyle relay team on their way to Olympic gold and a world record in Athens in 2004. Ryk attended Grey College before heading to university in Arizona. He returned to South Africa at the end of 2004, after eight years in the United States, and is now a proud ambassador for the Homecoming Revolution.

In addition to all his achievements in the pool, it is Ryk’s good looks and amicable nature that have endeared him to the South African public. In 2005, he was voted Cosmopolitan magazine’s sexiest man of the year. Despite the hype, Ryk has remained as down-to-earth as ever and refuses to be side-tracked by the glitz and glamour, choosing rather to focus on his goal of winning an individual medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Lunch Spot: Koi, Sandton