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Mixed bag for Karin

By Mark Etheridge

As girl power dominated Team South Africa’s performance at the British Gas Olympic qualifying swimming competition in London, qualifier Karin Prinsloo had mixed emotions about her Olympic qualifying performance.

Kathryn Meaklin qualified in the 200-metre Individual Medley on the opening day of the competition last Saturday and Prinsloo then joined her with a time in the 200m backstroke as the competition wound down.

Team South Africa had 11 swimmers in London and it was mostly happiness for Prinsloo as she was just the second South African to post a qualifying time. Our swimmers are duty-bound to qualify once internationally and then once at the nationals in Durban next month.

Young Prinsloo swam four events and her end results were a tumble-turn away from what she had been expecting.

“The events I trained for didn’t go to plan but I’m still so unbelievably happy,” she told Road to London 2012 on Saturday.

“I was really gutted about the races that I’ve trained so hard for and my times in training were so much faster than they used to be. I really thought I was going to qualify in the 100m backstroke maybe and then definitely the 200m free.

“Then in the end the two events that I didn’t train for or focus on, were my best swims… so I guess God’s plan isn’t always your own plan.”

Prinsloo’s qualifying swim came in an event she only started swimming again at her local championships in Pretoria in December. “I was entered with a 2min 15sec.”

They often say “mothers know best” and in Prinsloo’s case that certainly seemed the case. “I didn’t want to enter the 200m back but my mom asked me to.

She always said she believed in my backstroke because when I was younger, that was my main thing.”

In the morning heats she went 2min 12sec and was seeded around sixth or seventh for the guest final, “and then I ended up first with a time of 2.10.34 [FINA A qualifying time was set at 2:10.84), I was so emotionall after my race and couldn’t stop crying, tears of joy that is…”

Prinsloo’s first race was the 100m backstroke where she ended third with a time of 1:01.5. The next day was the 200m free where she came second to Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom. “I swam 1:59.32 and Sarah went an insane 1:55.

“Then I had a day off to rest and then swam the 100m free where I came fourth. My time in the morning was 54.97 (which I believe could be an SA record) and then in the finals I went slower with a 55.17. I was pretty happy to have broken a 55, never thought I was capable of that,” said the 22-year-old Marble Hall [north of Pretoria] athlete.

Prinsloo’s four finals saw her ending first in the 200m backstroke, second in the 200m freestyle, third in the 100m backstroke and fourth in the 100m freestyle.