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Johannesburg – Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos will lead a 19-strong swimming team to the FINA World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, Turkey from December 12 to 16.
“It is a really young team and the start of another four-year cycle towards Rio 2016 (Olympic Games),” national swimming coach Graham Hill said at the team's departure on Saturday.
“There is a lot of good competition coming up and I believe that's the best way to prepare moving forward to the Olympics.”
Le Clos was the only Olympic finalist who would be in action at the championships. His fellow Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh pulled out with a niggling injury while Suzaan van Biljon and Roland Schoeman were also sidelined because of injury.
The team consisted mostly of young up-and-coming swimmers with the majority being female.
The youthful appearance of the team was highlighted by the fact that 20-year-old Le Clos would be considered one of the senior members.
“This team is a very young team and we hope it is the beginning of great things for these swimmers,” Swimming SA high performance coach Dean Price said on Saturday.
“We need international exposure in order for us to build a strong squad for the 2016 Olympic Games.”
Much was expected of rising star Myles Brown, who SSA hoped would make the finals in the freestyle events.
The 20-year-old Brown, who, like Le Clos, trained with Hill, was considered as the next best thing in South African swimming.
Olympic swimmer Karin Prinsloo and youngster Jessica Pengelly, based in Australia, had both previously made finals at these championships and would form the pillars of the woman's team.
Hill said they were working on strengthening the women's squad which had struggled in recent years.
SA swimming team:
Men: Miles Brown, Chad le Clos, Michael Meyer, Darren Murray, Leith Shankland, Garth Tune, Giulio Zorzi.
Women: Jessica Ashley-Cooper, Marne Erasmus, Lehesta Kemp, Amanda Loots, Trudi Maree, Vanessa Mohr, Jessica Pengelly, Kyna
Pereira, Karin Prinsloo, Megan Stephens, Rene Warnes, Michelle Weber. – Sapa