Swimming South Africa are keeping focus on what they see as their two major swimming events for this year, the Youth Olympics in August and the Commonwealth Games in October.
A total of 21 swimmers have been identified by Swimming SA, combining both established stalwarts and new talent, who will be spending virtually the month of June in Europe competing in the Mare Nostrum Series and the Setti Colli Meeting.
The Mare Nostrum Series has rapidly developed into one of the major swimming series on the International calendar and will be the ideal opportunity for Swimming SA to make their final recommendations to SASCOC for the final team selection for the Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
The likes of Roland Schoeman, Cameron van der Burgh, Wendy Trott, Kathryn Meaklim and Chad Le Clos for example are no strangers to this arena, but for some this will be a new experience and for others an opportunity to improve yet some more.
A classic example is that of young Chanelle van Wyk who came close to retiring from the sport in 2009 due to a career threatening shoulder injury. Van Wyk clocked a Commonwealth Games qualifier of 29.05 in the semi-finals of the 50m backstroke, securing her inclusion in the squad.
Chad Le Clos has fond memories of the Mare Nostrum, after finishing with a silver medal in the 400m individual medley in Barcelona in 2009. Since the beginning of the year he has been in scintillating form, qualifying for the inaugural Olympic Youth Games in a number of events and then giving himself a birthday present by winning the 200m butterfly at the Telkom SA National Championships. For Le Clos though, 2010 will be a very busy year indeed.
Le Clos, Pierre Keune and Murray McDougal will not only be competing in the Mare Nostrum, but have also been selected by SASCOC to represent South Africa at the first ever Olympic Youth Games in Singapore in August. The selections by both Swim SA and SASCOC of especially these three shows just how highly they are rated in the future plans of both parties.
Wendy Trott will also have warm memories of the Mare Nostrum after having won the 800m freestyle in Canet. Trott, who is studying law in the United States, was hugely impressive at the Telkom SA Nationals, winning both the 400m and 800m Freestyle finals.
One name that will stand out wherever you go in the world is that of Natalie Du Toit. The Multiple Paralympic Champion and World Record Holder will be competing in five events at the Mare Nostrum, continuing her busy schedule which includes open water swims, Mare Nostrum, IPC Swimming World Championships and finally the Commonwealth Games.
The team will compete in the Mare Nostrums, with Roland Schoeman and Neil Versfeld competing in Barcelona (9-10 June), Canet (12-13 June), before heading off to Setti Colli in Italy where they will compete from 17-19 June. Following the tour, the team will then base themselves at Koper in Slovenia for a training camp from 21 June to 3 July before returning home.
The squad: Leith Shankland, Chad le Clos, Jan Venter, Charl van Zyl, Murray McDougall, Kathryn Meaklim, Dylan Bosch, Chanelle van Wyk, Riaan Schoeman, Wendy Trott, Mark Randall, Taryn Mackenzie, Neil Versfeld, Pierre Keune, Kayla Ferreira, Oneida Cooper, Cameron van der Burgh, Natalie du Toit, Roland Schoeman, Jeanie du Toit, Caitlin Hanck
The programme for the team is as follows:
6 June — Depart from South Africa/USA
9-10 — Compete Mare Nostrum Barcelona
11 June — Travel to Canet, France
12-13 June — Compete Mare Nostrum Canet
14 June — Train Canet
15 June — Travel to Rome, Italy
17-19 June — Compete Setti Colli, Rome, Italy
20 June — Travel to Slovenia
20 June-2 July — Training Camp Slovenia
3 July 2010 — Depart from Slovenia