Swimming South Africa, after a disastrous National Championship meet last week in Port Elizabeth that included two days of cancelled racing and a total reformat of the meet, has decided to expand opportunities for its athletes to earn selection to Barcelona.
A murky, green pool clouded the selection procedure, and High Performance Director Dean Price told the Business Daily on Monday that “The conditions were far from perfect. We have to acknowledge that…We have a clause which gives (national coach) Graham Hill and me the discretion to include people, and we are going to use that to give people opportunities.”
The Business Daily reports four swimmers who hit FINA Automatic Qualifying Standards at the meet, though even that list is technically speaking more expansive than the strict South African qualifying procedures stated. Roland Schoeman had a legitimate qualification in the 50 free, and Chad le Clos had a legitimate qualification in the 100 and 200 butterflies. Cameron van der Burgh’s qualifying 100 breaststroke swim came in prelims, which means that strictly speaking he needs a reprieve from the national team coaching staff (one they’re guaranteed to offer), and Myles Brown hit a qualifying standard in the 800 free, which South African standards don’t oblige as a berth for Barcelona (though, with him being so close in the 400, they would again be a bit nearsighted not to accept).
Price did not say how exactly he and Hill would decide who was ‘close enough,’ but did comment that “”We have a group of about 12 really good youngsters coming up, who we want to groom over the next three years. So, if we get it right, we will have a great Rio (2016 Olympic Games).”
He did, however, allude to the fact that they were not pleased with the performance of the women’s squad, regardless of conditions. He commented that they didn’t “look like world-class swimmers,” and that they would continue to take a strong stand on forcing the women’s program to step up.