Le Clos and Reid Both Add Events to Olympic Lineup in Durban


Wayne Riddin contributed this report:

It was left to 2012 Olympic star Chad le Clos on his birthday to lift a dull third day during the South African Swimming Championships doubling as the 2016 Rio Olympic trials at the Kings Park Pool in Durban this evening.

Le Clos is always a crowd seller and he did not disappoint with Olympic qualifying times in the200m freestyle and 200m butterfly on his special day. Christopher Reid still added a third time under the Olympic mark in the 100m backstroke, but for the rest, some work still needs to be done.


2012 Olympian Karin Prinsloo (26) opted to take her best shot at the 1:58,96 Olympic QT out on her own. Clocking a 2:01,83 in the morning heat she set a pace slightly faster in the second semi-final with a 27,84sec first 50m and paid the price shortly after the halfway in 58,54sec. Prinsloo ended on 2:00,96 and will again have to swim the final out on her to work out how to find the extra two seconds. Kristin Bellingan won the first semi in 2:04,98 with 400m freestyle winner Caitlin Kat the third seed going into the final in 2:05,59.


Chad Le Clos celebrated his 24th birthday in style as he overturned last year’s result up against training partner Myles Brown (23) and Egyptian Marwan Elkamash (22) in the 200m freestyle. The London Olympic star took it out in 24,73sec and then settled in to force the chase, the three then separated by 0,07sec at the 150m mark before Le Clos accelerated to hold the edge narrowly to stop the clock at 1:47,75 – a fraction faster than last night’s qualifying swim. Brown was marginally slower for the silver in 1:48,29 and Elkamash next on 1:48,34. Calvyn Justus (20) was a fraction faster too in 1:49,63 while Dylan Bosch (22) improved to 1:50,14.

Sebastien Rousseau (25) had opted to concentrate on the 200m butterfly after a 1:48,80 in the semi-final last night and the hopes of a 4 x 200m freestyle relay could well be on the cards for South Africa.

“It was great having the family out here tonight to support me on my birthday,” Le Clos said as he pointed to the large group of supporters in the stands.


Mariella Venter (16) was out in 29,95sec in the 100m backstroke but was unable to challenge the Olympic QT of 1:00,25 as she ended on1:01,32 and a little slower than her semi time of 1:00,97. Jessica Ashley-Cooper (23) was out close with her and it was just not enough as she finished on 1:02,46 with the younger Nathania van Niekerk (17) sneaking in for the silver in 1:02,41.


Christopher Reid (20) still produced a fast 54,02sec dash for the 100m backstroke and his third occasion in two days under the Olympic QT 54,36sec. He was out in 26,36sec after a disappointing start and the expectations of a sub 53sec performance went with it.

But the modest Reid bounced back immediately with a positive “I am happy I posted another qualifying time. I had a bad start and it is always difficult to recover from that when you are chasing a top time in the world.” These Olympic trials are without the wedges to aid the backstrokers at the start. “Not to make excuses, it has been an adjustment to start without the wedges here,” said Reid. “I can get a much cleaner entry at the start so I know I can go faster with them. Tonight I hit the bottom of the pool at the start and decided to just swim through. I still have the 200m event and I may be asked to stand up for the medley relay, so there may still be another chance.”

For the rest, Zane Waddell (18) snatched the silver in 56,09sec ahead of Jacques van Wyk (23) in 56,25sec and Ricky Ellis (28) in 56,41sec – both of who could not match their semi-finals times.


The 100m breaststroke resulted in a disappointing performance all-round as the expected time from the competition just did not happen. Out even slower in the first 50m was Tara Nicholas (20) in 32,56sec with Tatjana Schoenmaker (18) and Franko Jonker (23) close. But Schoenmaker always has the stroking to pull off a win from this position and so she did. But the Olympic QT of 1:07,85 was a long way off in the end as she took the gold in 1:09,17 followed by Jonker in 1:09,24 and Nicholas in 1:09,30. Probably the most impressive performance in the end was a fourth lady and just 16 years old, Kaylene Corbett, also under the 1:10 mark in 1:09,66.

“I was disappointed in the time but I am now looking forward to the 200m event where I have already qualified,” said Schoenmaker afterwards.


Sebastien Rousseau (25) was just 0,63 seconds outside the Olympic QT of 1:56,97 in the first semi-final in 1;57,60 before Olympic champion and birthday boy Chad Le Clos (24) lifted a quieter evening once again with an outstanding result. “I died a little on the last 15m,” was his first response. “But I was not really aiming at a time so I am happy.” The result was an encouraging 1:55,61 in the event that brought him all the fame and glory in London when he edged out the world’s best swimmers ever in Michael Phelps. Hopefully the final can see Le Clos pull Rousseau under the Olympic mark but an interesting tussle will develop behind for that minor medal with Eben Vorster (2:00,03), Michael Meyer (2:00,40), and Dylan Bosch (2:01,65) all capable of a sub 2 minute swim.


The versatile Marlies Ross – only recently under the watchful eye of Bob Bowman – edged closer to that elusive Olympic QT of 2:14,26 with a semi-final time of 2:16,17 – but this will be a tall order with little opposition. The next best was Kirsty Mc Laughlan (22) in 2:19,29 and Gabi Grobler in 2:21,61 – but that 13-year-old Rebecca Meder can be sure to threaten the older women lying fourth in 2:21,77.


The Paralympic swimmers continued to excel with a host of qualifying times in the 100m backstroke event. It was Shareen Sapiro (S10) who clocked 1:12,25 in the morning for her first qualifier and then went even better in the final with a 1:11,87 while Emily Gray (S9) produced her second qualifying event with a 1:17,41 in the heat and a 1:17,17 in the final. Hendri Herbst kept the men involved with a 1:16,64 to add his name on the list in the S11 category and came close in the final with a consistent 1:16,84.

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5 years ago

Why would South Africa let an Egyptian swim in the FINAL at their Olympic Trials? Were there not enough swimmers from SA in the event to fill a final? That’s the only reason I could see a country doing this.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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