PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, April 19. THE first full day of timed finals competition at the South Africa long course nationals featured a couple of names added to the world championship roster, including Olympic champion Chad Le Clos.
In this morning's session, Le Clos cruised to the win in the 200 fly with a 1:56.35, well off his national record and Olympic gold medal-winning time of 1:52.96, but good enough to secure him a trip to the world championships. His Olympic performances guarantee him full funding for the world championships, as it was announced earlier that those who did not win Olympic medals or make the 2012 London finals may have to pay for about 20 percent of travel expenses to Barcelona. Michael Meyer, who represented Arizona at the recent NCAA championships, placed second today with a 1:59.24, while Christopher Reid was third with a 2:03.82.
After just missing the cut for the world team in the 400 freestyle on Monday, Myles Brown dipped under the automatic qualifying time in the non-Olympic 800 freestyle this morning with a 7:58.64. The time puts Brown fifth in the early 2013 world rankings, with Ryan Cochrane's 7:43.61 at the top of the mountain. Ayrton Sweeney was second with an 8:16.79, while open water star Chad Ho placed third with an 8:21.68.
Roland Schoeman potentially secured his place on the world championships team, posting a 22.19 in the 50 freestyle as a split time during the 100 free in the evening session, dipping under the 22.33 needed to automatically secure a spot on the roster. Schoeman has been faster in the past 12 months, placing sixth in the Olympic final with a 21.80. Schoeman will have the opportunity to go faster in the 50 free tomorrow morning. Le Clos won the 100 free race with a 48.95, missing the automatic FINA cut by .02 seconds. Leith Shankland (49.44) and Caydon Muller (51.24) rounded out the top three.
In other action from the morning timed finals session today, Karin Prinsloo won the women's 100 backstroke with a 1:02.02, beating out Jessica Ashley-Cooper's 1:02.69. Nathania Van Niekerk, just 14 years old, placed third with a 1:04.04. Prinsloo returned in the morning session to win the 200 free in 1:59.60, just missing the automatic world qualifying time by seven tenths of a second. Kyna Pereira was second with a 2:03.83, and Rene Warnes was third with a 2:04.52.
In the absence of world record holder and world champion Cameron van der Burgh, Giulio Zorzi won the men's 50 breast with a 27.80, ahead of Neil Versfeld, the 2009 NCAA 200 breast champion, who swam a 28.36, and Warren Karsten's 29.10. South Africa is not automatically selecting swimmers to the world championship team in the 50s of butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke, though Zorzi swam under the FINA qualifying time.
Tara Nicholas won the women's 50 breaststroke with a 32.81. Kelly Gunnell placed second with a 33.39 and Justine Macfarlane was third with a 33.51.
In the evening session, Ashley-Cooper got her revenge on Prinsloo, winning the women's 50 backstroke with a 29.00 over Prinsloo's 29.27. Rita Naude was third with a 30.13.
Gerhard Zandberg, a four-time world championship medalist in the 50 back (including bronze in 2011), won that event today with a 24.88. The time is faster than FINA's automatic qualifying time, but with South Africa not immediately naming swimmers to the team in the 50s of the strokes, Zandberg will have to wait to see if he earns a chance to win a fifth worlds medal.
Warnes earned the win in the women's 200 fly with a 2:15.41 ahead of Megan Stephens' 2:19.81 and Michelle Weber's 2:21.96.
Pereria picked up the win in the women's 800 free with an 8:48.00. Caitlin Kat gave Pereira a run in the early goings of the race but settled for second with an 8:49.28. Roxanne Tammadge placed third with an 8:54.97.
Meyer won the men's 200 IM with a 2:01.69, using a 35.04 breaststroke leg to pull ahead of Reid, who was second with a 2:04.28. Sweeney made a run in the second half of the race, placing third with a 2:04.97.