PIETERMARITZBURG, South Africa, August 17. THE second day of competition at the short course South African nationals was highlighted by Chad Le Clos' scratch from the remainder of the meet, citing an undisclosed illness.
Le Clos, the reigning Olympic champion in the 200 butterfly, was slated to swim the 50 butterfly final this evening, as well as the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle heats this morning. With the meet serving to select the team for December's short course world championships in Turkey, it's unclear if Le Clos will get another opportunity to earn selection — possibly this fall's World Cup meets — or if his performances at the Olympics and the 2010 short course worlds, where he won the 200 fly, will qualify him for selection. Le Clos finished second yesterday in the 200 freestyle, earning automatic selection in that event.
In Le Clos' absence, Olympic legend Roland Schoeman had no difficulty winning the 50 fly final with a 22.97. The time was slower than his 22.80 posted in yesterday's semifinals, but still faster than the FINA qualifying time of 23.95 for the world championships. Second in that race went to Nico Meyer with a 24.10, and Jurie Wilken placed third with a 24.72.
A day after winning the 200 freestyle and earning world championship team selection in that event, Darian Townsend posted another automatic qualifying time in the 100 freestyle semifinals with a 48.19. Leith Shankland (48.73) and Schoeman (49.14) rounded out the top three and will be looking to get under the automatic qualifying time of 48.54 in tomorrow's final. Townsend will be the top seed in the 100 IM final tomorrow as well, posting a world champs automatic qualifying time of 53.95 in today's semifinal. Schoeman (55.59) and Shankland (56.49) will once again be chasing Townsend, as well as the FINA standard of 55.06.
Reigning champion Cameron van der Burgh posted a 58.99 in this morning's heats of the 100 breast, but scratched from semifinals, allowing Giulio Zorzi to take the top qualifying spot in the men's 100 breast semifinal with a 1:00.00, just under the world championship qualifying time of 1:00.15. Neil Versfeld, a former NCAA standout for the University of Georgia, qualified second in 1:01.22, with Kyle Duckitt, about to start his junior year at the University of Michigan, qualifying third in 1:01.60.
In yesterday's 100 backstroke semifinals, Darren Murray posted a 52.84, which was faster than the automatic qualifying time of 53.43. In tonight's final, Murray could only manage a 54.10 for third place behind Garth Tune (53.89) and Niel de Villiers (53.97). It is unclear if Swimming South Africa will use Murray's semifinal time to select him for the world team.
Jessica Pengelly added a second event to her world championship schedule, winning the 800 freestyle in 8:33.24. Pengelly will also swim the 400 IM in Istanbul. Well back in second place was Kyna Pereira with an 8:49.74, and Caitlin Kat was third with an 8:55.42.
Jamie Reynolds won the women's 50 breaststroke with a 32.74, just ahead of Kelly Gunnell's runner-up time of 32.92. Tatjana Schoeman was third with a 33.04.
Jessica Ashley won the women's 100 back in 1:00.39, just off the FINA A standard of 1:00.06. Lehesta Kemp placed second with a 1:02.87, and Janneke Malan was third with a 1:03.33.
Chad Ho, known mostly for his open-water prowess, won the men's 800 free tonight in 8:09.02. With the event not being contested at the world championships, swimmers were solely racing for medals. Second place went to Dean Myhill with an 8:19.88, and Jason van der Touw took third with an 8:25.20.
Kathryn Meaklim won the 200 breast final in 2:29.32, with Kelly Gunnell second with a 2:31.57. Marlies Ross made a late charge in the final 50 meters to place third with a 2:31.91. Meaklim returned later in the session to post the top qualifying time in the 100 IM with a 1:03.53, ahead of Mandy Loots (1:03.72) and Rene Warnes (1:04.66).
Trudi Maree took the top qualifying spot in the women's 100 free semifinals with a 56.34. Megan Stephens took the second spot with a 58.01 and Vanessa Mohr was third in 58.33.
Marne Erasmus qualified first for tomorrow's 50 butterfly final with a 27.08, just .07 off the FINA automatic qualifying time of 27.01. Mohr was second in 27.74 and Loots took third with a 27.80.
With Le Clos and Roland Schoeman scratching the 100 fly, Nico Meyer now stands as the top seed for tomorrow's final with a 53.61 in the semifinals, looking to reach the 52.96 FINA A standard for world championship team selection. Garth Tune (54.20) and Shaun de Villiers (55.46) rounded out the top three qualifiers.