DURBAN, South Africa, April 9. KARIN Prinsloo stole the show on the third day of the South African long course nationals, which is serving as the country’s selection meet for the Commonwealth Games. Prinsloo broke two national records tonight to give the women’s roster a strong presence.
Men 200 back final
Chad Le Clos is diversifying his racing schedule, taking a decisive win in the 200 backstroke with a 1:57.93. It’s not fast enough to be in the top 10 globally, but among swimmers who could compete in the Commonwealth Games, it stands fifth behind four Australians with Great Britain’s backstrokers yet to swim. Darren Murray also broke two minutes today with a 1:59.68. Le Clos will get the chance to swim the 200 back at the Commonwealth Games by beating the qualifying standard by five tenths of a second, while Murray fell 1.2 seconds off the time. Christopher Reid took third in tonight’s race with a 2:00.58.
Women 100 free final
After winning the 200 free on Monday, Karin Prinsloo added a second event to her Commonwealth Games schedule, taking the 100 free in an impressive 54.48 to break her own national record of 54.97 from 2012. It puts her 14th in the world and behind five Australians in the current Commonwealth rankings. Prinsloo needed to beat her national record in order to swim the event at the Commonwealth Games, with 54.86 listed as South Africa’s qualifying standard. Erin Gallagher was second with a 56.70 and Trudi Maree was third in 56.84.
Men 100 free semifinals
It almost took a 50-second swim to make the championship final of the men’s 100 free, one of South Africa’s historically prominent events. Leith Shankland led qualifying with a 50.23, ahead of the 50.43 by Caydon Muller and Le Clos’ 50.59. Five other swimmers dipped under 51 for the 10-man final field: Joshua Steyn (50.74), Jacques Van Wyk (50.82), Douglas Erasmus (50.87), Calvyn Justus (50.90) and Brett Walsh (50.98). Also making the final were Clayton Jimmie (51.03) and Byron Doyle (51.05). Brad Tandy, the reigning co-NCAA champion in the 50 free, just missed the final with a 51.12 for 13th place.
Women 100 fly semifinals
Marne Erasmus will have lane four in tomorrow’s final, posting a 59.72. She was the only one under the magical 1:00 barrier, with Vanessa Mohr qualifying second with a 1:00.77 and Rene Warnes third with a 1:02.14.
Women 200 breast final
With Olympic finalist Suzaan Van Biljon now enjoying retirement, women’s breaststroke in South Africa is undergoing a bit of rebuilding. Franko Jonker took the win today with a 2:28.66 over Justine Macfarlane, who was second with a 2:28.74. Tatjana Schoenmaker was third with a 2:29.18.
Men 50 fly final
After a 23.07 in the semifinal that led the world rankings, Roland Schoeman won the national title today with a 23.11 to post the second-fastest time of the year. Schoeman is the 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in the 50 fly and will look to reach a higher step on the podium. With South Africa not automatically adding swimmers to the international team in the 50 fly, Schoeman will look to Saturday’s 50 freestyle to earn automatic selection. With two events already on his docket, Le Clos can add the 50 fly to his Commonwealth schedule if he desires, thanks to a 23.86 for second place. Ryan Coetzee was third with a 24.28.
Women 100 back final
Prinsloo added another race to her Commonwealth program, as she won the 100 back with a 1:00.81. That breaks her national record of 1:00.95 from 2012 and puts her just inside the top 20 globally. A sub-1:00 swim is definitely what is needed to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, however. Jessica Ashley-Cooper was just three tenths off the automatic qualifying standard, taking second with a 1:01.65. Nathania Can Niekerk took third with a 1:03.34.
Men 100 breast final
It’s not a world-leading time, but Cameron van der Burgh was the clear winner of the 100 breast with a 59.50 that sits him second in the world behind the 58.87 by Australia’s Christian Sprenger. The two will renew the rivalry at the Commonwealth Games, where van der Burgh will go in as the 2010 champion and Sprenger the 2010 silver medalist. The two repeated that finish at the 2012 Olympics, then switched places last summer at the world championships.
Giulio Zorzi, the surprise bronze medalist in the 50 breast at last summer’s worlds, was second with a 1:02.31 to fall 1.5 seconds off the qualifying time. Marko Visser was third with a 1:02.64. Zorzi and Visser were on pace for faster swims, splitting in the 28-mid range at the 50-meter mark. But neither could match van der Burgh’s 31.06 final 50 with their splits in the high 33s.
Women 800 free relay
KwaZulu Natal won the long relay with an 8:29.46, taking advantage of a Prinsloo-free Northern Tigers team, which posted an 8:35.12. Central Gauteng Aquatics was third with an 8:37.09.
Men 800 free relay
Myles Brown tried to get an automatic selection in the individual 200 free, leading off KwaZulu Natal’s relay with a 1:49.10. It’s faster than the 1:49.31 he swam yesterday to place second, but not good enough to surpass the 1:48.42 standard. Brown’s split helped his squad win the relay with a 7:32.92. Northern Tigers took second with a 7:39.42 while KwaZulu’s B team was third with a 7:42.73.
Craig Groenwald swam a 57.73 to post the fastest time in the men’s 100 free for the S14/S15 division, while Charl Bouwer posted a 53.21 in the S1-S13 division.
Yvonne Smith was credited with the first-place finish in the S14/S15 100 free with a 1:06.11, though Cornell Loubser posted a 1:05.21. Emily Gray was the clear winner of the S1-S13 100 free with a 1:08.44.
Mark Roach was the only swimmer under 30 seconds in the men’s 50 backstroke, posting a 29.97 in the S14/S15 category, while James Bezuidenhout won the S1-S13 race in 32.86.
Smith and Gray each returned to win a second event, with Smith taking the S14/S15 50 back with a 37.39, while Gray won the S1-S13 division with a 37.58.