South Africa doesn’t take long in holding their Short Course National Championships after the Olympics in an attempt to capture Olympic tapers. Unlike the U.S. Open that follows the Olympics shortly in the United States, however, the South African meet has World Championship ramifications.
That is because it is the official qualifying meet for South Africa’s Short Course World Championship team, so most of the Olympians hustled back to Pietermaritzburg for the championship.
That includes 200 fly Olympic Champion Chad le Clos, though he only swam the first day of the meet and withdrew after a taxing few weeks. His father was hospitalized on the first day of the meet (though it turned out to be minor), and le Clos had been under the weather as well. The official roster hasn’t been announced yet, but one would imagine that le Clos would in the least get an entry in the 200 fly as well, where he’s the defending Short Course World Champion as well.
South Africa’s only other medalist both from the Olympics and the last short course Worlds is Cameron van der Burgh, though he only officially stamped his ticket so far in the 50 where he won with a modest 26.58. He only swam the prelims of the 100 breaststroke, and those only in 58.99 - slower than his long course time from London.
Roland Schoeman had a wildly-successful meet, having qualified in four events, including a win in the 50 free in 21.33. He also finished 3rd in the 50 breaststroke, but had the 2nd-best time overall in a 27.10. That will leave a choice between short course specialist Giulio Zorzi and Schoeman – who it is easy to forget is the 2nd-fastest in history in this event in a 25 meter pool (behind only van der Burgh).
The notable absence is of the men’s sprinters, as the program moves on without at least one of its sprinters. Gideon Louw has moved on from competition, for now at least, as he’s beginning his coaching career. Graeme Moore, after a disappointing long course season, has not officially made the same decision, but is taking some time to digest his Olympic performance.
That leaves the relay as event champion Schoeman (46.50), runner-up Darian Townsend (47.17), and Leith Shankland (48.47) and Jurie Wilken (49.69) as the potential 400 free relay. Those times, in aggregate, wouldn’t have medal’ed at the Olympics in long course. This might be an opportunity for le Clos to show off his versatility, however, which would significantly improve this relay.
There weren’t a ton of overly-impressive swims at this meet, but Townsend was subjectively the meet’s standout performer. He was 2nd in the 200 free in 1:45.38, three-tenths behind le Clos, and added wins in both IM races.
Chad le Clos – 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly (SF)
Darian Townsend – 200m freestyle, 100m individual medley, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley
Jessica Pengelly – 400m individual medley, 800m freestyle, 200m individual medley
Kathryn Meaklim – 200 and 400m individual medley
Darren Murray – 100m backstroke, 50m backstroke (SF), 100m individual medley, 200m backstroke
Roland Schoeman – 50m butterfly, 100m individual medley, 50m breaststroke, 50m freestyle
Karin Prinsloo – 100m Backstroke (SF)
Jessica Ashley Cooper- 100m Backstroke (SF), 50m backstroke
Neil Versfeld – 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke
Leith Shankland – 100m individual medley
Marne Erasmus – 100m butterfly
Cameron van der Burgh – 50m breaststroke
Trudi Maree – 50m freestyle
Mandy Loots – 100m butterfly
Garth Tune – 50m backstroke
Myles Brown – 1500m freestyle
Michael Meyer – 200m individual medley (heats)
Giulio Zorzi – 50m breaststroke