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Aquatics | SA Swimming

Swimmers display Olympic potential

South Africa's swimming team for the Olympic Games in July was expanded to a potential 11 following impressive performances by Herman Heerden and Riaan Schoeman at the weekend.

The pair swam two out of three A-standard qualifying times at a two-day international swimming invitational in Durban, with the other coming from rising teenage star Chad le Clos, who earned a time which could see him swim at a third event in London.

All three have now satisfied the first part of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) policy which requires them to record an A-standard time twice during a 10-month period, including once at the national trials in April.

Nine swimmers had already met the qualifying criteria prior to the meet.

Olympic hopefuls who failed to swim A-times in Durban included Suzaan van Biljon, Karin Prinsloo, veteran Mandy Loots, Gerhard Zandberg, Trudi Maree and Darren Murray, although all came close and have further opportunities to qualify over the next four months.

Van der Burgh, winner of the 100m breaststroke and runner-up in the 50m event, said he was satisfied with his own performances, and was excited with the way the Olympic team was shaping up.

"It's been a bit hard, but I had a lot of fun," the Pretoria-born swimmer said.

"It's great being here with some of the country's brightest prospects.

"Personally, there's no sense peaking right now, so I've just been out here enjoying it in the water."

Le Clos, 19, added a third Olympic time to his card when he clocked four minutes, 14.93 seconds in the 400m individual medley on Saturday, adding to his A-times in the 100m and 200m butterfly.

He has achieved three out of his four objectives with the only one missing being the 200m individual medley.

Schoeman came second in the same 400m race, in a time of 4:16.02 -- both men were inside the 4:16.46 requirement.

Heerden, named Male Swimmer of the Meet, claimed the only Olympic A-qualifying time on Sunday when he swam a 15:06.11 in the 1500m freestyle, well inside the required 15:11.83.

Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry recorded the solo A-time by a female in the 200m individual medley.

The double-Olympic gold medallist, the Female Swimmer of the Meet, echoed Van der Burgh's sentiments about the country's prospects in the pool at the London Games.

"In 2008, I don't think it was anything to do with the swimmers not performing well, they were just a really young team," Coventry said.

"This time around they're a lot more experienced and I think they are going to do much better."


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