By Mark Etheridge
Gold, gold, gold, another gold and then bronzeÔÇª that was Karin Prinsloo’s individual love affair with the medals after a successful week at the national swimming championships in Durban last week.
But the most important thing that the swimmer will take back to Pretoria with her is an all but guaranteed ticket to the London Olympics after having sealed her qualification in the 200-metre backstroke. Swimming South Africa must first motivate their final team selection for ratification by the country’s Olympic governing body SASCOC. The first Team SA selection is due to be announced on June 7.
And it will also do her confidence no end of good that she and Chad le Clos were named Male and Female Swimmer of the championships after seven days of top-notch swimming in the King’s Park cauldron.
Prinsloo is certainly a star of the future, if not the present already. She made a meal of the medals at All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique last year when she won seven golds and a solitary silver. Then at this year’s British Gas Olympic trials in London, the same pool that she’ll dive into for the Olympics, she earned a full house of medals and one fourth spot.
Her gold medal came in the 200m backstroke where she met the first half of the qualification criteria, the silver was in the 200m free, the bronze in the 100m back and the fourth spot came in the 100m free.
Moving on and it was a busy week in Durban for the 22-year-old Prinsloo as she swam in five events ÔÇô┬á the 50m freestyle where she ended third, was the only time she didn’t earn top honours.
Reflecting on her successful week Prinsloo said: “I must say this has been the most intense week of swimming in my whole career.”
First up in Durban was the 100m backstroke. She told Road to London 2012: “In the semi-final I went a PB [personal best] 1min 01.15sec and Melissa Corfe’s SA record is a 1:01.14 so I just missed it. Then in finals, my time was 1:01.52. I wasn’t happy but it was good to swim a PB because it was a good sign for me in the 200m back.”
Next up was the 200m freestyle. “I went out hard in the heats because the 200 free semi-final was before the 100 back final and I wanted to swim the qualifying time. But I didn’t, so on the third day I only had the finals for the 200m free. I went a 1:59.53 so once again I was disappointed because I’ve really trained hard for that race and didn’t even come close to my personal best.
Her next final was the 100m free. “But I couldn’t dip under a 55 again like I did in London and swam a 55.77.”
Her last two events were the 200m back and as well as the shortest event of the meeting, the 50m freestyle sprint. “I took it out easy in the backstroke heats, went a 2.15.27 and then that evening in the semis I made my second OQT (2:10.74) and then finally in the final I’ve done it for the third time (2:10.76) so was really happy,” she says in a decidedly understated fashion.
Almost as an afterthought she mentioned that she also swam the two relay events during the meeting. “Oh yes, NTS (Northern Tigers Swimming) got gold in the 4x100m and we broke a South African record!” Swimming with Leone Vorster, Kayla Ferreira and Lehesta Kemp, the combination clocked a new SA mark of 3:45.56. She also got gold in the 4x100m medley relay, combining with Suzaan van Biljon, Vanessa Mohr and Kemp again, to win in 4:08.05.
Next for the blonde blitz is some down-time back in Pretoria. “We’re here in SA till 29 May and then our journey starts with the Mare Nostrum series in Europe and then we’re basically gone till after Olympics,” she says.
Here’s hoping when she comes back there’ll be some glittering memories, both literally and figuratively.