Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Chad le Clos highlighted Thursday’s opening day of the SA National Swimming Championships (short course, 25m) at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre.
Le Clos was the first swimmer to qualify for the 14th FINA World Swimming Short-Course Championships in China from 11-16 December.
He ducked below the 100m freestyle qualifying time during the morning heats before doing it again in the final, clocking a winning time of 46.45sec. Zane Waddell, 20, posted a qualifying time of 47.54 in finishing second behind Le Clos. United States-based Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Ryan Coetzee finished third with a time of 48.23.
Commonwealth women’s 100-200m breaststroke medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker also booked her place during the preliminary rounds.
She won the 200m breaststroke with a time of 2min 18.93sec, dipping below the qualifying mark for the second time on the day. Durban’s Emily Visagie added her name to the list of qualifiers, finishing second behind Schoenmaker in 2:23.03 with Christin Mundell bagging bronze with 2:26.80.
Another Durban-based athlete, Erin Gallagher, who was one of the star swimmers at the Commonwealth Games, won the women’s 100m with a world qualifying time of 53.34sec, while teenager Olivia Nel (daughter of former international Annette) won silver as she posted a time of 55.52 and Marlies Ross rounded off the podium by clocking 56.05.
Mariella Venter won the women’s 200m backstroke with a time of 2min 08.28sec, beating Samantha Randle to the wall. Randle touched second in 2:12.82 with Abi Meder finishing third with 2:17.01.
Meder’s 16-year-old sister Rebecca narrowly missed out on qualifying for the world championships in the 800m freestyle. She won the distance event with a time of 8min 36.35sec, ahead of Kate Beavon in second place (8:38.16) with young Duné Coetzee taking third in 8:42.70.
In the men’s 1,500m freestyle, Josh Dannhauser won in 14min 59.43sec with Aryan Makhija finishing second with 15:10.94. Chad Michau claimed bronze in 15:19.53.
Heats start at 9am and finals at 5pm every day.
Photo: Coetzee, Meder and Beavon on the podium, by Neville Bailey