EAST LONDON, South Africa, March 2. BURDAN swimming dynamo Charl van Zyl has set his sights on qualifying for this year's Olympic Games in the 200 meter backstroke, and his record-breaking form shown at the South Africa National High Schools Championships at the Joan Harrison Swimming Pool in East London this weekend, is a sign that his training is on course.
Van Zyl, 18, who has taken a month off from his studies at Westville Boys High in order to focus on his Olympic dream, set new SA schools records in the 50 meter backstroke (27.22) and 200 meter backstroke (2: 05.26) and is expected to improve on his times when he competes at the Telkom SA National Level 3 Championships at the same venue in East London, starting on Tuesday this week.
Van Zyl, who will compete in the SA National Level 3 Championships in the 50, 100 and 200 meter backstroke, 50, 100 and 200 meter freestyle, 50 meter butterfly and 200 meter individual medley, will need to complete the 200 meter backstroke in 1:59.72 or faster at the Telkom SA National Championships in Durban from April 1-6, in order to be considered for Olympic team selection.
"I am surprised by the times that I clocked during the SA National High Schools Championships this weekend as I am still in hard training and the performances inspire me because I know I can go so much faster after I have tapered for the races in the weeks ahead," said van Zyl. "I will be focusing on the 200 meter backstroke during the national Level 3 Championships this week, but should also be able to set personal best times in the 50 meter butterfly and 200 meter individual medley events. I am looking forward to competing at the Telkom National Senior Championships in Durban because I enjoy swimming with the elite squad backstroke swimmers like George du Rand, Gerhard Zandberg and Garth Tune as I am moving towards that open age group and need to lift my performances to that level."
Special thanks to Swimming South Africa for contributing this report.