SA swimmers off to Singapore
Cameron van der Burgh (File)
Johannesburg - The South African swimming team for the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China have jetted off to Singapore on Monday for a training camp where they will add the finishing touches before the start of the swimming competition on July 24.
The world championships will kick-off on July 16 with the diving, water polo, open water and synchronised swimming competitions.
Acting high performance manager of Swimming South Africa (SSA), Dean Price, said at the team's departure in Johannesburg they were realistically looking for at least three medals during the championships.
The team will rely heavily on the usual medal contenders such as current world record holder Cameron van der Burgh in the 50m and 100 m breaststroke, former men's 50m backstroke world record holder Gerhard Zandberg and former Olympic champions, Roland Schoeman in the 50m butterfly and Darian Townsend in the 200m individual medley.
"I think if we can get about three medals with Cameron, who is a big contender, Gerhard and Roland, who goes into the championships as former medal winners," said Price.
Price said they also hoped that Commonwealth and World Short Course gold medalist, Chad Le Clos, would translate his successes in the short course into the long course competition.
Van der Burgh will defend his 50m breaststroke title but made it clear that his aim was to do well in the men's 100m breaststroke.
"I've been training for the 100m breaststroke which is my main goal for the Olympic Games," said Van der Burgh.
"The 50m is something I am good at but for the Olympics I will be focusing on the 100m."
He said he used the European meetings in June to mainly work on race strategies in the build-up to the world championships.
"We've been trying new things out and it will either pay-off or it won't," Van der Burgh said.
"This is year is for testing and if it goes according to plan it should be exiting."
Le Clos will get into the pool with 14-time Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly.
"This year has been a good year for me as my end season times were pretty good," said Le Clos.
"We were in Europe for four weeks and my times were pretty fast.
"I am looking forward to the championships but I am not going to say that I will win a medal and make a final."
Le Clos first competed against Phelps at the previous world championships as a 16-year-old in Rome in 2009 and finished in 17th place.
The swimmer said there were at least 11 swimmers in the 200m butterfly who had a chance of winning medals.
The 28-year-old Zandberg said he was satisfied with his preparations for the world championships during the international meetings in Europe.
Zandberg won gold, silver and bronze during the Sette Colli and the Mare Nostrum series in Europe.
He said he did well in his goal of psyching out potential competitors at world championships during these meetings.
"I identify the key swimmers in my event and try to constantly beat them," said Zandberg.
"At Sette Colli in Rome there were four former world champions in the line-up and it was important to target them before the world championships."
SA swimming team:
Men: Cameron van der Burgh (NTS) Chad Le Clos (KZN) Charl Crous (KZN) Darian Townsend (KZN) Gerhard Zandberg (NTS) Heerden Herman(WP) Mark Randall (BOR) Neil Versveld (KZN) Riaan Schoeman (KZN) Roland Schoeman (NTS) Gideon Louw (NTS) Graham Moore (CG) Darren Murray (NTS) Leith Shankland (KZN) Jean Basson (CG) Sebastien Rousseau (WP) Jasper Venter (KZN)
Women: Vanessa Mohr (NTS) Wendy Trott (WP) Kathryn Meaklim (KZN) Karin Prinsloo (NTS) Suzanne van Biljon (KZN) Chanelle van Wyk (NTS) Leone Vorster (NTS)