Prinsloo on track for Olympic qualification
KARIN Prinsloo has indicated she could crack one of the toughest Olympic qualifying times after going the fastest in the women’s 200m freestyle heats at the SA championships in Durban on Wednesday morning.
Her 1min 59.86sec effort suggests she could beat the qualifying mark of 1:58.33, but to get there she will also have to break Leone Vorster’s SA record of 1:58.78.
Vorster was the second quickest on the morning with a time of 2:03.21.
They will swim the semifinals on Wednesday night and then will surely try to push each other into the qualification zone in the all-important final on Thursday night.
The qualifying criteria state that swimmers must achieve qualifying times twice, once in the finals at this SA gala and once in international competition.
The women’s 200m backstroke is one of four events where qualifying times are quicker than SA records – and they’re all women’s races.
The others are the 100m freestyle (qualifying time of 54.57s v SA record of 55.17), 200m freestyle (1:58.33 v 1:58.78), 100m backstroke (1:00.82 v 1:01.14) and 200m butterfly (2:08.95 v 2:09.41).
And while women’s swimming has improved in the past eight years – not a single female swimmer qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics – it is not yet as strong as men’s swimming.
Until Terence Parkin earned a podium finish at the 2000 Sydney Games, every one of SA’s seven swimming medals had been won by women, including three golds – two by breaststroke queen Penny Heyns in 1996 and Joan Harrison in the backstroke at the 1952 Games.
SA’s top active female swimmer, Kathryn Meaklim, who has already booked her spot to London in the 400m individual medley, was the quickest in the 200m IM heats with a 2:17.65.
In other heats on Wednesday morning, Sebastien Rousseau (2:00.80) was the fastest in the 200m butterfly, with Chad Le Clos (2:01.90) the next quickest. Heerden Herman was the fastest in the men’s 800m freestyle, which is not an Olympic event.
Cameron van der Burgh was supposed to swim a time trial in the 50m breaststroke, but he withdrew from that as a precautionary measure because of a shoulder niggle.
Coach Dirk Lange said he expected Van der Burgh, who qualified for the Olympics in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday night, to return to training in the next few days.