PHOENIX, Arizona, April 17. SOUTH Africa and Russia are conducting their Olympic Trials this week, and so far South Africa is putting up the most impressive times. The South Africans are primed to put together a pretty good men's 800 free relay, based on the names set to swim in tomorrow's 200 free final. Chad Le Clos qualified first, with Sebastien Rousseau, Darian Townsend and Jean Basson just doing what was needed to get into tomorrow's final. The Springboks already have a spot in the 800 free relay in London thanks to their 12th place finish at the world championships.
Cameron van der Burgh got under the one-minute mark in today's 100 breast final with a 59.90, putting him third in the world right now behind two Japanese swimmers. Van der Burgh has never won an Olympic medal despite a couple of world championship bronzes.
Wendy Trott didn't swim a lifetime best in the 400 free today, but did enough to win and swim faster than the FINA B cut, which means she would be the only representative for South Africa in the Olympics in the event.
Noticeably absent in today's men's 100 backstroke semifinal was Gerhard Zandberg, who had been the country's best backstroker for many years. Zandberg was best at the non-Olympic 50 backstroke, winning several world championship medals in that event, but it was pretty much expected to see the 28-year-old swimming today. That leaves Charl Crous as the top seed going into tomorrow's 100 back final.
The 100 backstroke semifinal was the highlight at the Russian nationals today in Moscow. Vlad Morozov, who's coming off a pretty good meet at the NCAA championships, qualified first with a 54.8. Arkady Vyatchanin, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, will also swim in the final, and Stanislav Donets, the reigning short course world champion, is set to race in the event tomorrow as well.
Only one name was added to the Russian Olympic roster today, and that was Yana Martynova in the women's 400 IM. And Nikita Konovalov swam the fourth-fastest 100 fly in today's semifinals with a 51.99.
A few head coaching jobs have become available in the collegiate ranks lately, and one more just opened up today. Mary Bretscher announced that she is retiring from coaching after 38 years at DePauw University in Indiana. Bretscher started coaching at DePauw in 1974, the same year the school started the women's team. Since then, the women have been a regular presence at the Division III NCAA championships, with two top 10 finishes and six top 20 team finishes through the years.