Erin Gallagher Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Erin Gallagher Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Erin Gallagher became the first woman to achieve a qualifying time for the 2019 swimming world championships when she won the 100m freestyle on the opening night of the national trials in Durban on Monday.

Gallagher clocked 54.34sec for the gold medal‚ comfortably inside the 54.49 qualifying mark for the international showpiece in Gwangju‚ South Korea.

But‚ more impressively‚ her time was 0.04sec quicker than the qualifying mark for the 2020 Olympic Games.

National coach Graham Hill‚ who also trains Gallagher at Lahee Park in Pinetown‚ has frequently spoken about the need for Olympic hopefuls to hit Games qualifying times a year out.

No SA women qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016 or for the 2015 world championships‚ and only breaststroker Tatjana Schoenmaker qualified for the 2017 world championships.

Several women are expected to qualify for the world gala in July at the national championships that run until Friday.

Schoenmaker and Kaylene Corbett are in action in the 200m breaststroke on Tuesday.

In the men’s race‚ Gallagher’s former stablemate Chad le Clos was the only one to achieve a qualifying time on Monday night‚ going 1min 56.21sec in the 200m butterfly.