South African Long Course Nationals: Charl Crous Wins 100 Back; Chad Le Clos Adds Another Event

DURBAN, South Africa, April 18. SWIMMING South Africa posted three more FINA A cut times during day three of the South African Long Course Nationals held in Durban.

Darian Townsend just missed earning an automatic qualifying time to the 2012 London Games with a 1:47.88 in the men's 200 free. That swim missed the FINA A cut of 1:47.82 by just .06 seconds. He has, however, been faster this year with a 14th-ranked time of 1:47.46 from the Indianapolis Grand Prix that might allow South Africa to nominate him for his third straight Olympic appearance. Sebastien Rousseau (1:48.69), Jean Basson (1:48.70) and Jay-Cee Thomson (1:51.14) rounded out the top four in the finale.

Karin Prinsloo could not better her semifinal time of 1:01.15, and wound up taking the women's 100 back title in 1:01.52 this evening. That swim is well off the FINA A cut time of 1:00.82 for a spot on the Olympic roster. Her times are better than the FINA B cut time of 1:02.95, leaving South Africa with the potential to submit her provisionally if it so chooses. Jessica Ashley-Cooper (1:02.47) and Lehesta Kemp (1:04.07) finished second and third in the event.

Charl Crous had already joined the Olympic roster with a 54.19 during semis of the men's 100 back, and confirmed that time with a 54.17 to win the finale. Both times well under the FINA A cut of 54.40. With his time in finals, he remained 20th in the world just behind Ben Treffers' 19th-ranked 54.16. Darren Murray (54.80) and Ricky Ellis (56.16) wound up second and third in the finale.

Suzaan van Biljon was another swimmer who could not better her semifinal time. Van Biljon won the women's 100 breast in 1:08.76, slower than her semifinal time of 1:08.60 and just outside of the FINA A cut of 1:08.49 that would have secured a spot on the Olympic roster. The FINA B cut for provisional qualification is 1:10.89. Tara Nicholas (1:10.01) and Ronwyn Roper (1:10.85) rounded out the top three.

Special thanks to Swimming South Africa for the contribution
In the 50m freestyle disability event, Charl Bouwer (S13), Hendri Herbst (S5) and Kevin Paul (S10) set Paralympic A Qualification Times in tonight's finals, finishing in 24.38, 26.86 and 25.68 respectively.

Challis Wright, Craig Groenewald and Avron Manchest finished with the gold, silver and bronze in the S14 category 50m freestyle in 26.62, 26.64 and 27.11 respectively while Yvonne Smith (S14), Cornell Loubser (S15) and Christelle Kriel (S14) made up the medal podium in 31.24, 29.76 and 34.95.

Later on in the evening Wright, Groenewald and Martyn Groenewald were fastest in the S14 50m backstroke in 32.22, 33.41 and 33.43 with Achmat Hassiem, James Bezuidenhout and Johann van Heerden scooping the gold, silver and bronze in 32.13, 34.72 and 34.77.

Smith took the silver medal in the 50m backstroke in 38.53 ahead of Leanne Sterrenberg in 41.39 and behind Cornell Loubser in 35.65. Shireen Sapiro (S10), Tezna Abrahams (S10) and Dimakatso Makgakga (S9) were triumphant in the 50m backstroke in 33.99, 39.91 and 45.44.

Natalie du Toit was first in the 50m freestyle S9 category in 31.40 with Shireen Sapiro (S10 – 31.08) in second and Emily Gray (32.84) in third.

Leone Vorster won the semifinal round with a 2:02.12 in the women's 200 free, while Karin Prinsloo took second in 2:03.78 after posting a 1:59.86 during prelims. Wendy Trott rounded out the top three in 2:03.79. The swimmers in the event will have plenty of time to make up to earn an Olympic bid, with the FINA A cut time set at 1:58.33 for guaranteed entry to London.

Chad Le Clos clinched his third swim in the Olympics with a FINA A cut of 1:55.30 in the men's 200 fly. He led qualifying well ahead of the 1:56.86 cut, and within striking distance of the African record of 1:54.51 set by Sebastien Rousseau in 2009. The performance shot him to third in the world rankings, behind only Takeshi Matsuda (1:54.01) and Nick D'Arcy (1:54.71) and ahead of Michael Phelps (1:55.32). Rousseau, meanwhile, placed second in 1:57.63 and has an outside shot of becoming the second Olympic entry for South Africa if he can beat the FINA A cut in finals. Dylan Bosch (2:01.95) and Pierre De Waal (2:02.35) qualified third and fourth.

Kathryn Meaklim clipped the FINA A cut in the women's 200 IM with a 2:13.33 to earn a spot on the roster. Next up during finals is a shot at her South African record of 2:12.53 set in 2009. Jessica Pengelly (2:17.76) and Rene Warnes (2:19.52) have a ways to go to get the second Olympic bid with the FINA A cut set at 2:13.36.