2021 SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- April 7th – April 12th
- Newton Park, Gqeberha, South Africa
- Primary Olympic Selection Meet
- RSA Olympic Selection Criteria
- LCM Format (50m)
- Live Results
- Live Stream (Youtube)
- Day 1 Recap
- Day 2 Recap
- Day 3 Recap
- Day 4 Recap
On the penultimate day of the 2021 South African National Championships, we saw swimmers take to the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, each vying for a spot on the South African Olympic team this summer.
The biggest surprise of the evening was that Chad le Clos missed the required cut to automatically qualify for Tokyo in the 100 fly as he posted a 52.13 which is just over the cut of 51.96.
The country’s selection criteria for the Games states that should no athlete hit the FINA A standard at nationals, any athlete who has been under the standard between March 1, 2019, and June 27, 2021, will be considered for selection.
Since le Clos’s winning time was slower than the cut, he will need to rely on those secondary considerations to qualify for the event. Le Clos got under the standard back in 2019 when he hit a 51.16 for bronze at World Championships. Le Clos is one of 2 South African men under the FINA A during the qualification window as Ryan Coetzee hit a 51.85 back in April 2019.
Le Clos is among the most accomplished swimmers in the event’s history, having won silver in the event at the two most Olympic Games along with gold at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, bronze at the 2019 World Championships, and gold at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
In the 100 butterfly final at South African nationals, le Clos was closely followed by Matthew Sates who hit a 52.15 which was good enough for silver but also just over the Olympic cut of 51.96. Unlike le Clos, Sates has not been under the FINA A as his fastest-ever time is 52.11 from February 2021.
Le Clos has also already qualified to swim at the 2020 Olympic Games in the 200 butterfly when he hit a 1:55.88 to win the final and get under the selection standard of 1:56.48.
The other big swim during day 5 finals was the women’s 100 breaststroke final in which Tatjana Schoenmaker hit a 1:05.74 South African record. That time was good enough to earn a spot on the country’s Olympic squad as it got under the FINA A cut of 1:07.07. Schoenmaker also advanced to the #2 spot in the event this year, trailing Lilly King‘s leading time of 1:05.32.
On the men’s side of the 100 breast, Alaric Basson swam the quickest time in the event with a 1:01.29 which was a bit off the Olympic standard of 59.93. Branden Crawford and Jared Pike rounded out the top three with a 1:02.47 and 1:02.91, respectively.
In the women’s 100 butterfly, Erin Gallagher and Dune Coetzee both managed to get under the 1-minute mark, posting times of 59.64 and 59.97, respectively. Neither Gallagher nor Coetzee, however, hit the Olympic standard of 57.92.
Having missed the auto-qualification standard, Gallagher could be named to the team through the secondary selection criteria as she hit a 57.67 back in 2019 which is under the FINA A of 57.92.