DURBAN - Launching himself into a world leading time, Chad le Clos won his close rivalry with Myles Brown, dipping below the world qualifying time in the 200m freestyle final at the SA Swimming Championships on Wednesday.
Le Clos held a healthy lead over the first half of the race before his former swimming partner put the throttle down in the final 100m. The Olympic gold medallist touched first in a world qualifying time of 1:46.84, with Brown dipping below the mark for the second time with his time of 1:47.55.
The time was some way off from Le Clos’ national record of 1:45.20, which earned him the silver medal at the Rio Olympics but was pretty fast this early in the season. Teenager Jarryd Baxter rounded off the podium in third place.
Going toe-to-toe with Brown, Le Clos, pictured, said the duel between the two swimmers provided one of the highlights of the championships.
“I always feel this is the big race of the meet, it is between me and Myles, you could just feel the tension before the race,” Le Clos said. “I’m really happy with that. I maybe wanted to be a bit quicker if I held it a bit better on the second 50m. Myles’ time would have won nationals last year ... it is the fastest time we’ve both done in the final at nationals, so we are both improving, which is great.”
Brown said he did not let the rivalry between him and Le Clos get the better of him. “I kind of just wanted to focus on myself for the final, last year and the year before we got caught up in one another trying to win the race,” Brown said. “We both managed to swim faster, I think we had a similar mindset of trying to get the fastest time.”
Cameron van der Burgh produced the magic in the 50m breaststroke semi-final posting his fastest time ever in the Kings Park pool, touching the wall in 27.06 seconds.
Like the night before in the 100m breaststroke, Van der Burgh’s time catapulted him to second place on the world rankings.
The country’s two big female hopefuls, Tatjana Schoenmaker and Mariella Venter, fell just short of the qualifying marks in their respective events, although it was not their specialist distances.