PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, April 15. THE South African National Championships kicked off today in Port Elizabeth with a trio of swimmers all surpassing FINA World Championship qualifying times.
Roland Schoeman put up one of the most impressive swims of the day in prelims of the men's 50-meter fly. The Olympic gold medalist charted a time of 23.17 in prelims, surpassing the FINA world qualifying time and jumping himself into the top three in the world this year. Only Fred Bousquet (23.00) and Florent Manaudou (23.14) have been faster with their times at the French Nationals last week.
Schoeman then followed that swim up with a 23.23 in semifinals, demonstrating his consistency in the sprint fly. He had some company in the semifinal round as fellow Olympic gold medalist Chad Le Clos turned in a world qualifying time of 23.78 in the event. That's a top-10 time so far this year.
Another South African Olympic gold medalist earned a Worlds qualifying time as Cameron van der Burgh put up a 1:00.71 in the semifinal round of the men's 100-meter breaststroke event. That puts him among the top 10 in the world this year, with the likely potential that he could join Christian Sprenger under 1:00 as his Australian counterpart clocked a 59.75 in Perth in January.
A few titles also were awarded this evening in South Africa. Myles Brown took home the men's 400-meter freestyle title in 3:49.80, just missing the Worlds qualifying time. Mark Randall (3:57.31) and Ayrton Sweeney (3:58.29) rounded out the top three in the event. Meanwhile, Kyne Pereira clipped Caitlin Kat for the women's 400-meter freestyle title, 4:17.03 to 4:17.39. Roxanne Tammadge finished just behind with a third-place 4:17.95.
In other semifinal action, Vanessa Mohr paced qualifying in the women's 100-meter fly with a 1:00.75. Marne Erasmus qualified second in 1:01.22. Marlies Ross posted a 2:18.53 for the top time in the women's 200-meter IM semis, while Rene Warnes took second in 2:19.39. Additionally, Lehesta Kemp clocked a 26.04 in the women's 50-meter free semis with Trudi Maree just behind with a 26.11. Maree had lead prelims with a 26.09.
In multi-class events, Challis Wright was listed first in the men's 100-meter backstroke S14-15 event with a 1:10.86, while Charl Bouwer was listed first in the men's 100-meter backstroke S1-13 event with a 1:01.72. Yvonne Smith was listed first in the women's 100-metr back S14-15 event with a 1:23.35, while Shireen Sapiro was listed first in the women's 100-meter back S1-13 event with a 1:11.46.
In relay action, Karin Prinsloo, Vanessa Mohr, Kayla Ferreira and Lehesta Kemp won the women's 400-meter free relay in 3:52.47, while Luke Pendock, Leith Shankland, Chad Le Clos and Calvyn Justus took home the men's 400-meter free relay title in 3:25.14.