While South Africa’s two golden boys of swimming was reveling in their success, the country’s 100m freestyle seems to sink deeper into the abyss.
Out of more than 140 swimmers that swam in the morning 100m freestyle heats at the SA Swimming Championships and Olympic trials on Wednesday, Douglas Erasmus was the only person to dip below 50 seconds with a personal best time of 49.54 seconds.
In the evening’s semi-finals, his training partner Caydon Muller was the only other swimmer to join him in the sub-50 second club.
Erasmus won their semi-final with a time of 49.85 seconds with Muller following behind him in 49.90 to give South Africa a slight glimmer of hope that a swimmer would be able to qualify in the 100m freestyle.
To bring the country’s woes in the 100m freestyle into perspective, 13 swimmers at the Australian Championships this week managed to swim faster than 50 seconds while 14 did it during the semi-finals.
In their final Cameron McEvoy posted the fastest textile time ever clocking 47.04 seconds with five more swimmers dipping below 49 seconds.
Swimmers need to post a time of 48.99 seconds in the men’s 100m freestyle for a place in the South African team for the Games.
The times in the heats and semi-final suggest South Africa is unlikely to field a 4x100m freestyle relay in Rio which would be the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games that the country does not have a team at the global showpiece.
Multiple Olympic medallist Roland Schoeman scratched from the 100m freestyle during the morning heats and he will have to qualify in the 50m freestyle to go to his record fifth Olympic Games.
The winner in the 100m freestyle will also swim in the men’s 4x100m medley relay with Cameron van der Burgh, Chad le Clos, and Christopher Reid.
National swimming coach Graham Hill said he needed the freestyle swimmer to post a low 49-second time to give the relay team half a chance of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Le Clos may not have succeeded in his initial goal but he still managed to post the third fastest time in the world to win the national title in the men’s 200m butterfly.
With the Olympic qualifying time out of the way, Le Clos set his sights on a fast time in the final stopping the clock on a time of 1:55.04 to claim the title.
Sebastien Rousseau missed the mark clocking 1:57.38 with Dylan Bosch winning the bronze in a time of 1:58.18.
“I was happy, I wanted a 1:54 but it felt really nice, I was able to think while I was swimming which is a good sign because I wasn’t so fatigued,” Le Clos said.
“When you are super fit you can think about everything, and I think that is the third fastest time in the world so I am happy.
“I am about three seconds off the world record where I think it will be to win the gold medal.”
Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh wore a massive smile after he touched the wall with a new personal best and Olympic qualifying time in the men’s 200m breaststroke semi-final.
Feeding off the electric crowd, Van der Burgh posted a time of 2:11.10 to add the 200m breaststroke to his repertoire after he already booked his place to the Games in the 100m breaststroke.
“It was really such a great swim, I was really not expecting such a time after this morning, I didn’t go that hard in the morning but I was feeling a bit rough,” Van der Burgh said.
“When I turned at 150 metres the crowd was just going crazy, and I thought ‘let me just bring it home tonight’ and it is not too often you get to do a new personal best and Olympic qualifying time.
"I am just really stoked with that and as you get older you start enjoy the little bits and pieces like doing personal best." - Independent Media