JOHANNESBURG – The second day of swimming in Durban belonged to the women as Tatjana Schoenmaker, Kaylene Corbett and Nathania van Niekerk qualified for the Fina World Long-Course Championships in July.
Commonwealth Games double gold medallist Schoenmaker and training partner Corbett added their names to the list of qualifiers in the 200m breaststroke. The duo posting qualifying times during the morning heats before doing it again in the evening’s final.
Schoenmaker claimed the national title in a time of 2:24.44, with Corbett touching second in 2:25.62. They were both faster in the morning, dipping well below the qualifying mark of 2:25.91.
The 19-year-old Corbett has been making massive strides since she joined Schoenmaker’s coach Rocco Meiring since last middle last year.
Three years ago Van Niekerk missed out on the Rio Olympics selection by hundredths of a second.
Last night she was rewarded for her perseverance, winning the 200m backstroke in a time of 2:11.37 which is 0.20s under the qualifying mark. It is a magnificent turnaround for female swimming in the country after it has been stuck in the doldrums for a few years.
The country failed to qualify any women for the 2015 World Long-Course Championships and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The world championships could also see the return one of the country’s lost sons with South African 100m backstroke record-holder Christopher Reid booking his place for the global showpiece. Reid posted a qualifying time in the 200m backstroke, racing to gold in a time of 1:57.11.
It is the first time since Reid qualified for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 that he has made the trip from the United States to swim at the national championships.
The female qualifiers so far outnumber the men with four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos and Erin Gallagher earning qualifying spots on Monday.
Le Clos won the men’s 200m freestyle title yesterday evening in a time of 1:48.55.@ockertde