PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, April 23. WITH only four swimmers meeting the automatic qualifying times last week at the South African nationals, Swimming South Africa has announced that more opportunities will be made available for its athletes to meet standards in the goal of sending more swimmers to the year's biggest meet.
Federation President Dean Price told Business Day Live that the adverse conditions at the meet, which included a murky pool and a burst pipe that canceled the meet for two days, might have kept some swimmers from reaching their potential at the meet. Price also mentioned a clause in the Swimming South Africa rules that allows him and national team head coach Graham Hill “the discretion to include people, and we are going to use that to give people opportunities.”
London Olympic champions Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos, as well as four-time Olympian Roland Schoeman and newcomer Myles Brown, were the only swimmers to automatically qualify for the trip to Barcelona. Price did not mention any specific meets where swimmers could post faster times and get considered for the world championships, World University Games or junior world championships.
FINA's deadline for submitting names to compete at the world championships is July 1, so with a little more than a month to go, South Africa will be working to bring a well-rounded group to the top international meets, putting a focus on the rising young swimmers who could potentially be on the 2016 Olympic team.
“We have a group of about 12 really good youngsters coming up, who we want to groom over the next three years. So, if we get it right, we will have a great Rio (2016 Olympic Games),” Price said.
A major concern for Price was the lack of top female swimmers in South Africa. Suzaan von Biljon, a finalist in the 200 breaststroke in London, was scheduled to swim last week but withdrew due to an ear infection.
“If you look at the girls,” Price said, “they are not in shape and they don't look like world-class swimmers and we have to take a stronger stand on getting the girls through.”