JOHANNESBURG – In a bid to arrest the decline of swimming in the country, Swimming South Africa (SSA) have named a 16-member squad that includes B-qualifiers for the FINA World Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary, next month.
Looking to resuscitate female swimming in particular, SSA have included five women for the first time since the 2013 world championships.
The squad will once again be spearheaded by South Africa’s lifebuoys in Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh.
Le Clos will be going to the world championships looking for redemption after he conceded his 200m butterfly crown to Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh.
He will also face a strong challenge to his 100m butterfly title, with Olympic champion Joseph Schooling talking of breaking the world record held by American legend Michael Phelps.
Buoyed by his Olympic 200m freestyle silver medal, Le Clos will also fancy his chances of earning a podium finish in this event.
Van der Burgh will be looking to earn a medal for the sixth consecutive time at the world championships.
Only eight swimmers posted A-qualifying times at the South African Swimming Championships in Durban in April.
Top female swimmer breaststroker Tatjana Schoenmaker was the only one among the seven who will not be in Hungary as she turns her attention on the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan at the end of August.
The team has ballooned from the five male-only squad that represented the country two years ago in Kazan, Russia.
Le Clos, Van der Burgh, Myles Brown and Ayrton Sweeney will make their return to the world championships.
Olympic 50m freestyle finalist Brad Tandy, distance ace Brent Szurdoki, and rising star Zane Waddell along with Le Clos, Van der Burgh and Brown earned their places by posting A-qualifying times.
The 19-year-old Waddell is one of the exciting prospects in the team, posting an A-qualifying time in the 50m freestyle when claiming the silver medal at the South African Championships with a time of 22.49 seconds, while also winning the 100m freestyle title with a B-qualifying time of 49.09, the eighth-best time by a South African.
While the swimmers who posted A-qualifying times will have their costs reimbursed for the global showpiece, the B-qualifiers will be partly subsidised.
It is the first time since 2012 that SSA has accepted B-qualifying times as the embattled federation look to unearth new talent. SSA has also made an effort to select youthful female swimmers, with the 20-year-old Emma Chelius the oldest among a handful of teenagers.
Kazan gold medallist Chad Ho will be going into the world championships as the defending 5km champion in the Open Water event, where he will once again be looking to add a 10km title to his name.
The women’s Open Water team will be spearheaded by Rio Olympian Michelle Weber, who will be swimming the 5km distance in Hungary.
SA Swimming Team
Men: Myles Brown, Chad le Clos, Brent Szurdoki, Brad Tandy, Cameron van der Burgh, Zane Waddell, Martin Binedell, Doug Erasmus, Clayton Jimmie, Matthew Meyer, Ayrton Sweeney.
Women: Emma Chellius, Erin Gallagher, Samantha Randle, Kate Beavon, Kaylene Corbett.
Open Water Team – Men: Chad Ho (10km and 5km), Nicolaos Manoussakis (10km), Danie Marais (5km).
Women: Robyn Kinghorn (10km and 5km), Michelle Weber (5km), Sasha Lee Nordengen-Corris (10km).