There was only one race on the fifth day of competition in Durban at the 2012 Swimming South Africa Nationals and Olympic Trials. But it was a big one, the one that the world has been waiting for at this meet. The men’s 100 free.
I think the entirety of the world was probably a little bit let down in this final; we didn’t see the kind of times that indicate that this is a relay just one-leg-away from an Olympic medal. Auburn-trained Gideon Louw added half-a-second from the semi-finals; it will be curious to see if South Africa decides that his A-cut from the semi’s is sufficient for an individual swim. Roland Schoeman looked way better than he has in quite some time with a 49.25 for 2nd; though that won’t get him an individual swim, it is the best he’s been since 2009.
Schoeman has been motivated this year by being left off of the 400 free relay at Worlds last year (by coach’s decision more than anything). It will be hard for them to deny him a spot after that swim.
Darian Townsend was 3rd in 49.30; he was faster at the Indy Grand Prix earlier this year, but I think he’s still pretty happy with that time. This is an event that he’s only really gotten good at the past few months, and he’s got the ability to split 47-high on a relay at the Olympics.
Cal swimmer Graeme Moore has to be unhappy with his finals swim of 49.56 for 4th. Afterall, he swam a 48.1 in Shanghai at the World Championships! It is likely that it will be him, if anybody, who receives an individual swim at the Olympics in the 100 free, despite this 4th-place finish.
Leith Shankland, who took Schoeman’s spot in Shanghai, was 5th here in 49.82. Bradley Tandy was 6th in 50.05.
In other finals, Mandy Loots took the women’s 200 fly title in 2:12.49, which is not a great time for her but still was a dominant victory. There was no swim by Kathryn Meaklim, the event’s National Record holder in this race, as she instead was gonig after the 200 breaststroke semi-finals on Friday.
Neil Versfeld wasn’t able to even match his semi-finals speed in the 200 breaststroke, though the Olympic Qualifying Time was looming, but he did take a big win in 2:12.73.
It seemed as though he tried to change his pacing too much – he was out way slower in this round than the last – and it bit him in the end as he ran out of room to make that distance up. 1:05.0 is a very slow opening split in this race (though 1:07.7 is a great finish).
In 2nd was 2000 Olympic silver medalist Terence Parkin in 2:15.63. His name has been mentioned recently, as he is a deaf swimmer that has gone through some of the same struggles as we’ve seen from American Marcus Titus this week. We’re still awaiting word on if SA uses any special starting protocol for him aside from a strobe.
Karin Prinsloo continued to hover around a 55-mid in the semi-finals of the women’s 100 free. She marked a 55.63 for the top seed; Lehesta Kemp is the second seed in 56.84. The top 7 swimmers in this race all train with Northern Tigers Swimming, the country’s top program.
Chad le Clos takes the top seed in the 200 IM semi-final in 1:58.87, with Townsend on a second swim not too far behind in 1:59.98. Both of those swims are under the A-Final mark, and I’d expect both to be on the Olympic Team. What might upset that is Sebastien Rousseau, who was 3rd in this semi in 2:00.41 and could also get under the qualifying mark on Saturday.