South Africa’s leading swimmers are winding down preparations for the national championships that begin in Durban next week, with the sport’s top brass confident that all their Olympic hopefuls will qualify for London 2012.
The Kings Park swimming pool will host the week-long event that is scheduled to begin on Monday in what is the final chance for athletes to swim inside the strict A-standard qualifying times.
Just 12 swimmers have so far achieved the necessary standards in their events, but they will need to do it again next week, according to the qualifying criteria which requires the times be reached twice during a 10-month period, including once at next week’s meet.
“It all comes down to next week for the athletes,” Swimming SA (SSA) chief executive Shaun Adriaanse said on Friday.
“Many of them will have their dreams realised after an extremely tough four-year cycle. We’re sure that they will not let themselves down.”
Breaststroke specialist Cameron van der Burgh, the country’s highest profile star, is one of eight male athletes to have reached an A-standard time, having done so in the men's 100m breaststroke event.
The others are Heerden Herman (1500m freestyle), Riaan Schoeman (400m individual medley), Gideon Louw (50m freestyle), Darian Townsend (200m freestyle and 200m IM), Sebastien Rousseau (200m butterfly and 200m IM), Chad le Clos (100m butterfly, 200m butterfly and 400m IM) and Graeme Moore (50m freestyle and 100m freestyle).
The four women that have met the requirements are Vanessa Mohr (100m butterfly), Kathryn Meaklim (400m IM), Karin Prinsloo (200m backstroke) and Wendy Trott (800m freestyle).
Graham Hill, the national swimming coach, felt the sport in the country was at the highest level he had ever seen prior to a national championships event.
“I don’t think it’s ever happened in previous Olympic years where so many swimmers had reached A standard times prior to the national championships,” Hill said.
“So it looks good and we’ve got to just make sure that it all happens next week.
“I’m sure it will be a great week and hopefully we get a few more than 12 A-standard times. I’m confident we will.” – Sapa