TWO more names were added to the list of swimmers to represent SA at the Olympic Games in London later this year when Karin Prinsloo, of Northern Tigers, and Wendy Trott, of Western Province, completed the qualifying criteria set by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).
The two secured the required times on Sunday at the national championships and Olympic trials at the Kings Park Pool in Durban.
They joined Kathryn Meaklim (400m individual medley), Chad le Clos (400m individual medley and 200m butterfly), Darian Townsend (200m individual medley) and Riaan Schoeman (400m individual medley), all of KwaZulu-Natal, Cameron van der Burgh (NT, 200m breaststroke) and Heerden Herman (WP, 1 500m freestyle).
There is still an opportunity for four other swimmers to get the nod from Sascoc by achieving an Olympic qualifying time (OQT) in international events between now and May 15.
They are Suzaan van Biljon (NT) in the 200m breaststroke, Charl Crous (KZN) in the 100m backstroke, Gideon Louw (NT) in the 100m freestyle and Roland Schoeman (NT) in the 50m freestyle.
On Sunday, Prinsloo was first off the mark in the final of the women’s 200m backstroke, going on to take gold and dip under the OQT of 2:10.84.
Jessica Ashley-Cooper (WP) and Nathania van Niekerk (Limpopo) briefly challenged Prinsloo over the first 50m, but she quickened the pace to finish six seconds ahead of Ashley-Cooper (2:16.53) and Van Niekerk (2:16.97).
It was just reward for Prinsloo’s perseverance over seven days and nights of racing in heats, semi-finals and finals in her chosen events, but the OQT was the cherry on the top of four national titles.
“I am overjoyed at having finally achieved my objective of getting to the Olympics,” she said.
“I swam my race much better than in last night’s semi-final.”
Prinsloo’s four national titles were in the 100m and 200m freestyle, and the 100m and 200m backstroke.
Le Clos brought his week of racing to a close with a fourth gold medal in the men’s 100m butterfly, which he won in 52.45 seconds, just outside the OQT of 52.36.
Central Gauteng’s Dylan Bosch (53.89) and Neil Watson (54.43) were second and third, respectively.
Le Clos’s previous successes were in the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 200m butterfly.
He has met the full Sascoc criteria for two of these, the 400m individual medley and the 200m butterfly, but will in all probability swim in all four events at the Olympics.
Le Clos said he was a little disappointed at his time in the 100m butterfly, but had lost some time at the turn.
I can’t really use as an excuse that it has been a hard week,” he said “Nothing compares with the Olympics, I am told, when it will be even harder.”
Some of the biggest cheers came with the last two events of the evening, the women’s 800m freestyle and the men’s 1 500m freestyle, which saw Trott and Herman complete the formalities for London.
Trott completed her 16 lengths of the pool in 8:30.61, more than three seconds faster than the OQT (8:33.84), with Jessica Pengelly (NT, 8:41.40) and Michelle Weber (KZN, 8:44.10) next in line.
“I just wanted to make the team,” said a delighted Trott. “I am so glad the waiting is all over. It’s always the same for the long-distance races – we come at the end of the gala.”
Trott, who is studying at the University of Georgia in the US, said her aim in London was to improve on her performance at the Beijing Olympics, when she finished ninth overall.
There was no stopping Herman this time after he failed to qualify for Beijing in 2008 by just three seconds.
“I made sure this time,” he said after 30 lengths of the pool at a pace that saw him finish just over three seconds to the good this time around.
The University of Stellenbosch student said the race had been a lot tougher than he had expected. “The last 300m were really hard going, but I just had to guts it out,” he said.
The men’s and women’s 50m freestyle finals were both disappointments, with Olympian Roland Schoeman (NT) and Trudi Maree (WP) just short of the qualifying times of 22.11 and 25.27, respectively.
Schoeman’s winning time was 22.23, ahead of Brad Tandy (KZN, 22.35) and Gideon Louw (NT, 22.45). Maree came through in 25.38 from Lehesta Kemp (NT, 26.17) and Prinsloo (26.26), missing the A standard time by just 0.11 of a second. – The Mercury