Louw wins 100m freestyleComment on this story
Gideon Louw won the glamour event at the South African National Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials in Durban on Friday night, but his performance was slightly overshadowed by Chad le Clos and Suzaan van Biljon.
Louw claimed the 100 metres freestyle title in 49.23 seconds to edge out Roland Schoeman (49.25) and Darian Townsend (49.30), though, all three failed to hit the qualifying time of 48.82.
Graeme Moore, the only man to have had an A-standard time prior to the meet, missed his chance to secure a ticket to London by coming fourth in 49.59.
There was a measure of consolation for the American-based winner, however, after he met the qualifying criteria in the semi-final 24 hours earlier with hen he recorded a 48.74 time.
“I was kind of glad to get the qualifying time in the semi-final, so I could just focus on racing in the final and getting a top two spot,” Louw said after his race.
“That was my plan for this evening and luckily it paid off.”
The tough qualifying measures require all of the country's Olympic hopefuls to swim below the A-standard time twice during a 10-month period, including once this week.
Reflecting on the disappointment for the others, Louw added: “I would have liked to have seen more guys get the time, but qualifying standards are super tough this year.”
Elsewhere, Le Clos, one of the country’s brightest prospects, recorded his fourth A-standard time of the week when he was quickest qualifier in the 200m Individual Medley semi-finals.
The Durban swimmer recorded 1:58.87, comfortably inside the 2:00.17 qualifying time, on the way to winning his heat.
It means he has now reached the required times in three of the four races he intends to swim in London.
Though, the 200m IM was the only one of the quartet he did not have a previous Games time in.
“I’m really pleased to have got the time,” he said.
“It was the only time missing from my four races and to have got it here takes a huge amount of pressure off my shoulders.”
Townsend, who did have an A-time in the event, also broke the two second barrier with a 1:59.98 to all but assure his spot in London.
Van Biljon had missed out on qualification for the Olympics in the 100m breaststroke earlier in week when she won gold, but she produced a stunning swim in the 200m distance of the race to clock 2:25.89, a second quicker than the A-standard 2:26.89.
She stood astounded when she rose from the pool, gazing up at the times at the big screens.
“I didn't expect this at all,” said Van Biljon.
“Before my race my coach came and told me that I can do it and that I have a chance, but I had that doubt the whole time.
“I swam with nothing to lose and that paid off at the end.”
It is the first time she had also swum below the qualifying time.
In the only other final of the night, Neil Versfeld won the 200m breaststroke final in 2:12.73, but missed out on the A-standard time, while Karin Prinsloo was the fastest qualifier for the 100m freestyle final with a time of 55.63.
Charl Crous (2:00.10) edged out Darren Murray (2:00.18) in the 200m backstroke semis. – Sapa