Even when he looks like he is on a go-slow, Chad le Clos still gets the job done.
The world 200m butterfly champion received a surprise on Monday night when organisers at the Commonwealth Games trials here called his race 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
"I don’t like to make excuses, I hadn’t even suited up," said Le Clos, who won in 1min 58.01sec — slower than the 1:56 he
"But it was slow, let’s be honest," added the star swimmer who had recently warned that because of the hard work he had been doing in training since his last race in November, his times would be less than impressive at the Kings Park pool.
In the last race of the night Le Clos won the 100m freestyle in 49.74, ahead of Calvyn Justus (50.35) and Leith Shankland (50.51), who also beat the qualifying times.
Shankland, a year away from becoming a chartered accountant, returned to the pool recently after more than two years in retirement to lose excess weight he had picked up.
Having rediscovered the joy of the sport, he is gunning for Gold Coast 2018 in April to add to the Games medals he won at Glasgow 2014.
By Monday night 17 swimmers had achieved the qualifying times set by Swimming SA.
But the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is demanding that all entrants in individual events be ranked in the top 10 of the Commonwealth.
Only a handful of the qualifiers here have fulfilled that criterion so far, and Le Clos happens to be one of them.
He is ranked No1 in the world in the 200m fly with his 1:53.33 from the world championships, but his effort on Monday night places him 10th in the Commonwealth. Job done.
The qualifying times here correspond to the B standards used for the world championships in Budapest in 2017.
So far only three swimmers have achieved the tougher A standards — which are not required — and Le Clos is not one of them.
Tatjana Schoenmaker, who missed an Olympic qualification in 2016 by one heart-breaking hundredth of a second, is one of them, with Cameron van der Burgh in the 100m breaststroke and Ayrton Sweeney in the 400m individual medley.
Schoenmaker went 2:25.83 in the 200m breaststroke in the morning heats, then comfortably won the final in 2:26.46.
"It’s not so much about me," said Schoenmaker. "It’s more about motivating the other guys. I’m not top eight in the world yet, but my goal is Tokyo 2020."
US-based Marlies Ross, after failing to qualify in the 400m IM and 200m freestyle, finally achieved her qualifying time in the 200m IM, winning in 2:17.33.
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