Johannesburg - Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh made successful returns to the pool over the past weekend, with both turning out at the SA National Short Course Championships held in Pietermaritzburg despite not being 100 percent.
The pair featured in select events over the weekend, while being forced to pull out of others due to illness, but both insisted on participating to show support for the event and show loyalty to those who came out to support them.
Van der Burgh and Le Cos were amongst 18 swimmers to post A-standard qualifying times to meet the selection criteria for the FINA World Short Course Championships to be held in Turkey later this year.
“I wasn’t feeling great, but it was extremely important to be here,” said Van der Burgh.
The 23-year-old shot to fame last month when he won 100m breaststroke gold in London, while Le Clos clinched 200m butterfly gold and 100m silver in the same event at the Games.
Le Clos was also slightly under the weather prior to the KwaZulu-Natal meet, but secured qualification times in the 200m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.
“I wasn’t going to swim, but had to because I needed to qualify for the world championships,” he said. “I think a lot of us (Olympians) have been a little ill because we are just so tired after the events of the past few weeks. I’m really run down, but I’m loving it.”
Veteran swimmer Roland Schoeman swam A-standard times in the 50m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, 50m freestyle and 100m Individual Medley.
Other 2012 Olympians, which also made qualifying times were Darian Townsend, Darren Murray and Leith Shankland.
Amongst the women that set times in Pietermaritzburg were Kathryn Meaklim, Karin Prinsloo and Trudi Maree.
Van der Burgh said he was pleased with his performance, even though it was a completely different setting in comparison to the London Aquatics Centre.
“It is a big adjustment and it may not be the world stage, but to be here taking part in this event is so important,” he explained.
“For me, when I retire in four years time, I don’t want to be remembered as a memory, I want to be remembered as a legacy and I’ve got all these plans to inspire kids to swim.
“It’s as simple as that. You get a kid to swim and it could make a massive difference.
“It’s about giving them access to jump into that water and get that feeling of wanting to swim. I want to do that and when I retire, I want to do it knowing there’s five or six Cameron van der Burgh’s coming through and the same for Chad le Clos.
“These kids see us swimming on TV, but they want to see us in person and see that we are real people.”