Just like in the 50 butterfly (where she was the champion), 16-year old Vanessa Mohr was faster in the semi-finals than she was in the finals. She is still learning how to race, but this is a problem that will be corrected as she ages, matures, and gets more experience. This time, however, she had given herself enough of a cushion to still become only the 3rd South African woman (and only in an event shorter than 800 meters) to earn herself an automatic bid to this summer’s World Championships, thanks to her winning time of 58.93.
Roland Schoeman is often criticized these days for not being able to stretch himself much beyond 50-meters (and thus making himself largely a non-factor at the Olympics). He quieted his critics just a little today with a winning 100 free in 49.40, though that misses the FINA automatic qualifying time.
This leaves Swimming South Africa with an interesting decision to make. Graeme Moore put up a spectacular 48.80 in the semi-finals, but slid back to a 49.78 to take fourth in the final. While this should earn him a spot on the relay, SSA will have to figure out who to enter into the individual. They are not compelled, by their own rules, to enter anybody in the race, as nobody achieved the A-standard in the finals of the individual race. This leaves them with a difficult decision, as per the rules, Schoeman would be the only swimmer to be considered in this event, despite the fact that both runner-up Gideon Luow and Moore have put up much faster times at this meet than Schoeman’s.
Roland wasn’t the only Schoeman to win a race on day 4. Riann Schoeman, 9-years his younger (and with no close relation) won the men’s 400 IM in 4:16.29, which ranks him in the top-15 in the world this year, and will make him a popular darkhorse finalist in Shanghai. Chad le Clos, who has already earned his trip to Shanghai in the 200 fly, was 2nd in 4:18.67, which is a bit of a surprise given what he’s done previously in this meet. This might have been a blessing in disguise for le Clos, who was the fastest South African in 2010, as he can now focus his young efforts on his primary event.
In the other women’s final on the day, Georgia swimmer Wendy Trott ensure herself a second swim in Shanghai by taking home the SA title in the 800 free. Her time of 8:30.66 ranks 14th in the world this year. Unlike in the 1500, Trott was the only swimmer to earn a qualifying mark in this race. Michelle Weber, the 14-year old who earned her spot in the 1500, was 16 seconds back with an 8:46.30 for 4th place. The fact that the 1500, which she excels more strongly at, is not an Olympic event will likely push Weber towards open water swimming. This will ultimately be a big loss for pool swimming, but a big gain for the Open Water version.
Though relays at National-level competitions don’t often get highlighted, especially those not often swum at the Olympic level, one that deserves recognition is the women’s 200 free relay. The quartet of Karin Prinsloo, Vanessa Mohr, Chanelle Van Wyk, and Jean-Marie Neethling combined for a time of 1:45.08, which is a New South African record. The swimmers, who are all South African National Teamers, represent Northern Tigers Swimming.
There was some debate within my sphere about whether Graeme Moore or Chad le Clos would be the best fit for the South African team as the butterflier on a potentially dangerous medley relay. Darian Townsend, two years their elder, is apparently not ready to concede that spot just yet (though even he would be a replacement for the recently retired Lyndon Ferns), as demonstrated by his 53.00 to take the top seed headed towards tomorrow’s 100 fly final. Moore didn’t swim the event, and le Clos barely snuck into the A-final with an 8th-place time of 55.63.
Karin Prinsloo has lined herself up for two more National Titles on the women’s side, with the top seed coming out of the semi-finals in both the 50 free and 50 back. It was today in that 50 back that she earned her first FINA automatic qualifying time, though as we’ve mentioned ad nauseum, she’ll have to prove it in finals tomorrow. Charl Crous, who last year didn’t even rank in the top 60 in the world in the 100 back, has earned himself a FINA A-time in semi’s as well, with a 54.95.