Le Clos, Louw set qualifying times
Medal prospect Chad le Clos successfully completed the second part of his attempt to swim in four races at the London Olympics when he won gold in the 200 metres butterfly at the SA National Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials in Durban on Thursday night.
The 20-year-old recorded a time of one minute, 56.17 seconds, narrowly inside the 1:56.86 qualifying time, as he edged out a disappointing Sebastien Rousseau (1:57.88) and Dylan Bosch (1:59.57).
The other swimmer to record an A-standard qualification time on the night was Gideon Louw, who repeated his 2011 World Championships time of 48.74 in the 100m freestyle semifinals.
The pair are among 12 swimmers who had already set A-standard times for the Games, but needed to do it again at this week's meet.
The qualifying criteria require all the country's Olympic hopefuls to dip below the standard twice during a 10-month period, including once this week.
Le Clos, who was quicker in his semifinal, had already booked his ticket to the Games after winning the 400m Individual Medley on Monday.
"It's a huge honour to get another qualifying time, but to be honest I'm a little bit disappointed with the time," sad the KwaZulu-Natal swimmer, who is also bidding to qualify in the 100m butterfly and 200m IM.
"I was hoping I could at least match my semifinal time, but I'm halfway there now and I'm just happy with what I've done until now."
Le Clos admitted to being surprised by the time produced by Rousseau, who can still qualify for the Olympics via the 200m IM.
"It's unfortunate because I really thought he would do it," Le Clos said. "He took it out really hard with me and it's heartbreaking for anyone after giving your all."
Louw, who has a qualifying time in the 50m freestyle but not in the 100m, was the fastest of all the qualifiers as he ended ahead of Darian Townsend (49.10) and Graeme Moore (49.53), the only one of the three to have previously met the Olympic mark.
Veteran Olympic medallist Roland Schoeman came fifth with 49.77, while Jean Basson (50.61) also qualified to set up what is likely to be a hotly contested final on Sunday.
"It's great to have done the time," Louw said. "You train practically for four years to get here and it's just a great relief to have done the time.
"I guess the hard work's paid off."
In the only other men's event on Thursday night, Neil Versfeld was fastest in the 200m breaststroke semifinals, winning his heat in 2:12.35 ahead of Rory Buck (2:17.55).
The other heat was won by Sydney 2000 silver medallist Terence Parkin (2:18.35) as he continues his comeback attempt.
On the women's side, there was despair for Karin Prinsloo in the 200m freestyle final after she swam a 1:59.53 to win the title, but ended over a second outside the A-standard time of 1:58.33.
The Northern Tigers' swimmer, who has a qualifying time in the 200m backstroke, pushed hard at the start, but seemed to tire towards the end.
In the 200m IM final, Kathryn Meaklim, another athlete who has sealed her place in London via the 400m IM, claimed gold, but also missed out on qualifying for the event on her way to a 2:13.64.
Meaklim did drop inside the required 2:13.36 time in her semifinal.
The experienced Mandy Loots was the fastest qualifier in the 200m butterfly semifinals, which she won in 2:13.05.
In the multi-disability section, Natalie du Toit improved on her time from the morning’s heats when she raced to her third Paralympic A qualifying time of 1:05.75 in the 100m freestyle.
Charl Bouwer (S13), Hendri Herbst (S11) and Kevin Paul (S10) added to the night's Paralympic A qualifying times when they recorded 52.89, 1:00.12 and 55.58 in the 100m freestyle. The trio to date have bagged four Paralympic A qualifying times each.
In the S14 100m freestyle event, Craig Groenewald, Challis Wright and Sipho Mjoka made it to the medal podium in 57.70, 58.74 and 59.40, while Yvonne Smith (S14), Cornell Loubser (S15) and Christelle Kriel (S14) were victorious in 1:06.37, 1:04.70 and 1:17.68.
All the Olympic qualifying times following the completion of day four (SF = semifinal)
- Chad le Clos – 400m individual medley – 4:13.86
- Chad le Clos – 200m freestyle (SF) – 1:47.20
- Chad le Clos – 200m butterfly – 1:56.17
- Cameron van der Burgh – 100m breaststroke – 59.90
- Riaan Schoeman – 400m individual medley – 4:15.60
- Heerden Herman – 400m freestyle – 3:48.57
- Kathryn Meaklim – 400m individual medley - 4:37.70
- Kathryn Meaklim – 200m individual medley (SF) – 2:13.33
- Charl Crous – 100m backstroke – 54.17
- Gideon Louw – 100m freestyle (SF) – 48.74
All the Paralympic qualifying times following the completion of day four
- Charl Bouwer (S13) – 100m backstroke - 59.78
- Charl Bouwer (S13) – 400m freestyle - 4:13.93
- Charl Bouwer (S13) – 50m freestyle – 24.38
- Charl Bouwer (S13) – 100m freestyle – 52.89
- Hendri Herbst (S11) – 100m backstroke - 1:18.98
- Hendri Herbst (S11) – 400m freestyle – 4:58.75
- Hendri Herbst (S11) – 50m freestyle – 26.86
- Hendri Herbst (S11) – 100m freestyle – 1:00.12
- Shireen Sapiro (S10) – 100m backstroke - 1:10.70
- Natalie du Toit (S9) – 100m backstroke - 1:14.78
- Natalie du Toit (SB8) – 100m breaststroke – 1:29.84
- Natalie du Toit (S9) – 100m freestyle – 1:05.75
- Emily Gray (S10) - 100m backstroke - 1:16.88
- Tadhg Slattery (SB5) - 100m breaststroke -1:40.70
- Hendrik van der Merwe (SB5) - 100m breaststroke -1:43.84
- Challis Wright (SB14) – 100m breaststroke – 1:16.02
- Craig Groenewald (SB14) – 100m breaststroke – 1:14.80
- Yvonne Smith (SB14) – 100m breaststroke – 1:32.43
- Yvonne Smith (S14) – 200m freestyle – 2:24.24
- Renette Bloem (SB11) – 100m breaststroke – 1:39.06
- Marike Naude (SB13) – 100m breaststroke – 1:41.27
- Kevin Paul (SB9) – 100m breaststroke – 1:05.94 (World Record)
- Kevin Paul (S10) – 50m freestyle – 25.68
- Kevin Paul (S10) – 200m breaststroke – 2:24.23 (World Record)
- Kevin Paul (S10) – 100m freestyle – 55.58