Port Elizabeth - A grass green pool which affected World Championship qualifying times dominated proceedings on the first day of the SA Swimming Championships, in Port Elizabeth, on Monday.
The main casualty was rising star Myles Brown, who missed out on qualifying for the world showpiece in Barcelona in July by 0.25 seconds in the men’s 400m freestyle event.
A burst pipe at the Newton Park Swimming pool saw the usually clear swimming pool turn grass green a day before the start of the championships.
Earlier on Monday, the smoky water looked to subside, but by the evening it seemed to get worse and, coupled by the overhead lights, made it difficult for swimmers to see under water.
“I’ve been in great form leading up to this and it was a really early swim this morning… I swam into the lane rope a couple of times and my last turn was really bad, I turned on the wall,” Myles said about missing out on the qualifying time.
“To miss out by 0.3 seconds is quite hard and I just couldn’t see anything and it is unfortunate that I missed out.”
Brown won the race in a time of three minutes, 49.80 seconds (3:49.80) and was followed by Mark Randall in second place with a time of 3:57.31, while Ayrton Sweeney clinched the bronze medal clocking 3:58.29.
The 20-year-old believed he would definitely have qualified for the event had the water been clearer, but will now have to turn his attention to the 200, 800 and 1500m freestyle events.
“This one was supposed to set it up for a win, to get the pressure off, to qualify nice and early, I’ll just have to try again tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said.
Swimming SA (SSA) chief executive Shaun Adriaanse said they were engaging with the municipality to ensure the pool was ready by Tuesday morning.
"If it does not improve we will have to look at alternatives, maybe delay it slightly or something like that," Adriaanse said.
Meanwhile, Olympic gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh powered his way into the final of the 100m breaststroke, qualifying for the world championships in a time of one minute, 00.71 seconds (1:00.71).
“It is my fourth world championships I’ll be going to and I am very blessed to still be in good shape and be able to swim fast times,” Van der Burgh said.
Fellow Olympian Chad le Clos will aim to break Roland Schoeman’s stranglehold on the 50m butterfly after both swimmers advanced to Tuesday’s finals.
Schoeman cruised into the final in a time of 23.23 seconds, with Le Clos touching the wall second fastest, in 23.78 seconds.
Both swimmers set FINA qualifying times but South Africa will not be sending swimmers to the world championships in this event.
SSA made the decision not to select swimmers for the non-Olympic events - the 50m breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke - for the Fina World Championships, in Barcelona, in July.
The decision to omit these events will have a profound impact on their medal
winning chances as the majority of their medals in recent championships came in
the 50m breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke events.
Adriaanse said the reasoning behind this decision was to ensure that Olympic
events take precedent, as swimmers traditionally won medals in these events but
lost out at the Games.
Schoeman said while the fact that the pipe burst was an unfortunate
accident, the incident had profound effects on swimmers aiming for qualifying
“We are expected to perform like the Australians and the Americans but we
don’t have conditions like them, so how can we really be compared to the world
if we are not in the same conditions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kyna Pereira won the women’s 400m freestyle final in a time of
4:17.03, with Caitlin Cat finishing second in 4:17.39, and Roxanne Tammadge in
third place with 4:17.95.
Disabled swimmers Charl Bouwer and Hendri Herbst swam qualifying times in
the 400m freestyle and the 100m backstroke for the IPC World Championships in
Montreal in August.
Kevin Paul also qualified in the men's 400m freestyle, while Shireen Sapiro
swam a qualifying time in the women's 100m backstroke.
Roland Schoeman tweeted this picture on Sunday (Twitter).