The 2014 South African National Championships began Monday in Durban. Hosted at the magnificent Kings Park Aquatic Centre, there isn’t expected to be any of the green-water shenanigans that marred last year’s meet.
This meet is primarily the selector for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Though South Africa often competes at the Pan Pac Championships as well, the Commonwealth Games seem to be this summer’s primary focus.
The qualifying standards for the Commonwealth Games for South Africans is below. We’ll focus our recaps on finals unless something truly noteworthy happens in a semi-final, as there is not enough depth in the semi’s to warrant much consideration.
Qualifying times for the 2014 Commonwealth Games:
|Men’s Standard||Women’s Standard|
|22.33||50 m Freestyle||25.34|
|48.93||100 m Freestyle||54.86|
|1.48:42||200 m Freestyle||1.58:74|
|3.49:55||400 m Freestyle||4.09:81|
|800 m Freestyle||8.34:33|
|15.14:38||1500 m Freestyle|
|54.43||100 m Backstroke||1.01:39|
|1.58:48||200 m Backstroke||2.11:09|
|1.00:86||100 m Breaststroke||1.08:63|
|2.12:78||200 m Breaststroke||2.27:88|
|52.57||100 m Butterfly||58.89|
|1.57:03||200 m Butterfly||2.09:38|
|1.59:99||200 m Ind. Medley||2.14:97|
|4.18:99||400 m Ind. Medley||4.44:53|
Men’s 200 Fly – FINALS
We’ll start with the last qualifying final of the day, which was perhaps the most anticipated of the entire meet. There, the defending World Champion and Olympic Champion Chad le Clos took his expected spot at the top of the charts in his best event, where he swam a 1:54.56.
He has actually been a touch faster this year, but now holds the world’s two fastest swims of 2014.
Equally anticipated, however, after last week’s American collegiate (NCAA) championship meet was who would take 2nd in the race, and who might join Le Clos this summer in Glasgow.
It turns out, that would be 20-year old Dylan Bosch, who was a 1:56.92 for 2nd place, just clearing the qualifying standard by a tenth of a second. Bosch, who was the NCAA Champion and is now the fastest 200 yard fly swimmer in history, is truly capable of better than this and even a medal at the Commonwealth Games, but with a tough travel and competition schedule over two-plus weeks, making the team here was a great goal.
He tipped off two other American-based swimmers: Sebastien Rousseau (Florida) who was a 1:58.73 for 3rd, and Michael Meyer (Arizona) who was a 1:59.67 for 4th. Those were the only four under two minutes in the event.
Men’s 400 Free – FINALS
The men’s squad stands at three at the conclusion of the first day of competition, as 21-year old Myles Brown swam a 3:49.05 to win the men’s 400 free going-away. That’s only about six-tenths of a second shy of the mark that got him 6th at Worlds last year. This is his best event, and with a qualification underway, he should be able to really attack the 800 and 1500 freestyles later in the meet with an opportunity for really fast times (or really big crashes).
A trio of teenagers were behind Brown: Brent Szurdoki (3:55.72), Calvyn Justus (3:55.75), and Joshua Steyn (3:59.26) holding the 2nd-4th place positions.
Women’s 200 Free – FINALS
While the men got a trio to Glasgow, the women did well to walk away with one. 24-year old Karin Prinsloo swam a 1:58.43 in the women’s 200 free to earn her spot.
While it doesn’t look immediately like the South Africans will have much of a relay to send with her, but there’s some hope here for the future. 15-year old Marlies Ross took 2nd in 2:02.06, and 15-year old Erin Gallagher took 4th in 2:04.21. Both swimmers are funded through a new South African initiative to improve their women’s swimming, and that program after one year seems to be working thus far.
The South African National Record in the 800 free relay is just an 8:12, and between the three mentioned above, along with 3rd-place finisher Rene’ Warnes (who’s 22), they seem to have a group that could march down toward the 8-minute mark by the time the 2016 Olympics roll around. That would put the program in the territory of respectability.
Women’s 200 IM – FINALS
The above-mentioned Ross, on her 2nd swim of the day, won the women’s 200 IM in 2:15.83 – her lifetime best by half-a-second. She had a huge gap between her first and second race, so it’s unlikely that the double will have affected her much, but expect by the time next year’s trials roll around for the South Africans to think about reshuffling their schedule on her behalf, to ensure that she’s got some rest to hit the standard in this 200 IM.
Rene’ Warnes took a 2nd podium spot with a 2:16.48, and Tatjana Schoenmaker was 3rd in 2:19.86.
Team Through Day 1:
Chad le Clos
- The men’s 50 backstroke semi-final was notable because in-again, out-again backstroker Gerhard Zandberg is a go thus far. He took the top seed in 25.27, ahead of Ricky Ellis and Charl Crous.
- Vanessa Mohr, now at 19 needing to make her breakthrough, started off well with a 27.08 in the women’s 50 fly. That put her ahead of 2013 Worlds team member Jessica Ashley-Cooper (27.38) and U.S.- based Marne Erasmus (27.49). Erasmus swam on South Africa’s medley in Barcelona and also placed 30th in the 100 fly individually. With some competition now in tow, it would be great to see one of those three under a minute individually.
- Tara Nicholas swam a so-so 31.95 in the semi-finals of the women’s 50 breaststroke, followed by Justine Macfarlane (32.12) and Franko Jonker (32.19).
- No splits were immediately made available, but a KZNA men’s 400 free relay featuring Leith Shankland, the biggest star to participate in the relays, swam a 3:21.40. NTS took both 2nd and 3rd in the race.
Full, live meet results available here. The meet runs through Saturday.