Swimming champs hailed a success

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iol spt apr23 Le CLOS Gallo Images Chad le Clos in action in Durban last week.

South Africa’s top swimming officials hailed the National Championships and Olympic Trials a success following its conclusion on Sunday.

Nine athletes guaranteed themselves selection for London, with three others enhancing their chances of making the team after swimming A-standard times in Durban.

Chad le Clos, 20, was undoubtedly the biggest star to emerge as he recorded qualifying times in four out of the five races he entered – the 200 metres Individual Medley, 400m IM, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly.

Cameron van der Burgh (100m breaststroke), Darian Townsend (200m IM), Riaan Schoeman (400m IM), Gideon Louw (100m freestyle) and Heerden Herman (1500m freestyle) were the other men.

Only three women completed their qualification, Kathryn Meaklim (400m IM), Wendy Trott (800m freestyle) and Karin Prinsloo (200m backstroke).

“The performances this week were extremely good and I think we can look forward to some better things to come at the Olympic Games,” national coach Graham Hill said.

“It has been a pressure cooker with qualifying times at stake, but it will be just as tough in London.

“So in a way it was a good dress rehearsal.”

The tough qualifying criteria set out by the SA Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) meant that all the Olympic hopefuls needed to swim below the A-standard times twice during a 10-month period.

This includes once over the past seven days. All nine fall into that category.

“From Swimming South Africa’s side, we’re really happy with what we’ve seen here this week,” SSA’s High Performance Manager, Dean Price said.

“It’s very hard to achieve these times and I think we’ve done exceptionally well.”

The three that only met half the criteria were veteran multiple Olympic medallist Roland Schoeman (50m freestyle), Charl Crous (100m backstroke) and Suzaan van Biljon (200m breaststroke) after only swimming times last week.

According to the Sascoc requirements, the trio now need to head to an international meet to get their second time before the May 15 deadline.

Schoeman and Crous may escape having to do it, due to their likely involvement in the 4x100m freestyle and IM relay teams.

Van Biljon, will in all likelihood, need to swim her second time at one of two meets in Germany or Ireland over the next three weeks.

“Obviously for some, they’ve now complete their criteria and for others they still have to do it,” Price explained.

“We will assist everyone in trying to achieve Sascoc’s requirements, but obviously they have the final say in the selection of the Olympic team.

“We’ve identified what we believe is a really great team.

“I think we have some good experience and a fresh group of young swimmers, which bodes well for the future.”

The tough Sascoc stance was introduced after South Africa’s 22-member swim team failed to win a single medal in Beijing.

SSA will submit their final squad to the national body on May 15, with the team likely to be finalised prior to their departure for Europe on May 28. – Sapa


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