DURBAN, south Africa, April 23. WITH the completion of the Telkom South African Aquatic Championships at the Kings Park Pool in Durban on Wednesday night, Swimming South Africa announced a provisional squad of seven swimmers and one diver who have qualified to participate at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens during August.
In terms of the South African selection protocol, all names will be forwarded to NOCSA (the National Olympic Committee of South Africa) for final consideration. The team is expected to be confirmed at the end of May.
The seven qualifiers are:
Eugene Botes (KZN) 100m Butterfly
Darian Townsend (KZN) 200m Freestyle
Gerhard Zandberg (NTS) 100m Backstroke
Terence Parkin (KZN) 200m Backstroke
Ryk Neethling (KZN) 50m Freestyle
Roland Schoeman (NTS) 50m Freestyle
Lyndon Ferns (NTS) 50m Freestyle
Jenna Dreyer (Bo) Diving
Graham Hill (KZN) Coach
Gerhard van der Walt (NTS) Coach
None of the women participating at the national championships swam Olympic qualifying times.
Since South Africa's re-admission to international sport in 1992, the country's swimmers have won five Olympic medals, of which four were won by women. The SA Olympic medallists are Penny Heyns (two gold, one bronze), Marianne Kriel (bronze) and Terence Parkin (silver).
South Africa recently lost top-class female swimmers Sarah Poewe to Germany and Heléne Müller who retired.
Swimming South Africa coaching director Rocco Meiring says a number of talented youngsters are coming through, but that there is not too much depth at the moment.
He said South African swimming was lagging three years behind countries like Australia and the United States.
"We've begun establishing centres aimed at developing talent all over the country. One such facility is the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria.
"Our swimmers develop excellently until the age of about 15, but then there's a marked deterioration (in their development), so something's definitely wrong," said Meiring.
Kim Swan, SSA's newly appointed sports scientist, attended the national championships in order to ascertain whether the country's top swimmers are following optimum practice methods.