A dogfight for Olympic places in the men’s 50 metre freestyle is set to unfold over the next two days with Brad Tandy and Douglas Erasmus clocking qualifying times during the morning heats at the Kings Park Pool in Durban.
Tandy clocked the fastest time of the heats hitting the wall in 22.13 seconds to provisionally earn his place for the Games with Erasmus stopping the clock one hundredth of a second below the qualifying time in his race.
With only two places available per event, the pressure will be on multiple Olympic medallist Roland Schoeman swim faster than the qualifying mark of 22.27 to earn a spot in what could be his record fifth Games.
Schoeman posted the third fastest time of the heats when he touched the wall in 22.77 and as it stands he would effectively have to at least go faster than Erasmus for a chance of selection.
“So I had three chances at it and I said ‘let me just go for at right away, let me get it off the bat’ so I was going go for it and not hold anything back,” Tandy said.
“Hopefully tonight I can go a bit faster and get to that 21-second mark but the pressure is off and I can swim happy.”
Tandy posted an Olympic qualifying and personal best time of 21.87 in December, and he hopes to once again crack the 22-second barrier.
“I obviously still have to go up against all of the fast guys but it takes the nerves out of the way and I can enjoy the race more,” he said.
“I still have two more races to go and I know I can do better, so I am kind of saying I haven’t done it yet so I am not expending energy that I need to reserve for the race.”
Erasmus finally received his just rewards after he posted the fastest times in the 100m freestyle heats and semi-finals before failing to dip below 50 seconds in the final to finish in third place.
The 26-year-old Erasmus did not expect posting a qualifying time but he knows full well he needs to go faster to secure his place for the Games.
“I just put my head down and went for it, I gave it everything I could, the earlier you get the qualifying time the better,” Erasmus said.
“I’ve always been a 50m specialist and about three years back that I decided to start working for the 100m, and with the training I’ve been doing for that it brought my 50m time down nicely.”
Meanwhile, Chad le Clos qualified for his third event adding the 100m butterfly to the 200m freestyle and butterfly when he clocked 51.81 seconds during the morning heats.
“That was good, I just wanted to see hard I can go in the morning, semis and final, so that was pretty hard about 99 percent,” Le Clos said.
“Hopefully we can go 51.5 tonight and maybe 51 low tomorrow night.” - Independent Media