Port Elizabeth - The evening session of the SA Swimming Championships on Friday saw Roland Schoeman demonstrating how an old dog can pull off new tricks when he swam a qualifying time for the 50m freestyle in a 100m freestyle race.
Schoeman and Chad le Clos lined-up in the 100m freestyle in what would have been another mouth-watering tussle, but the seasoned swimmer had the spectators puzzled as he touched the wall at the 50m mark rather than turning.
He still continued the race but finished in last place with Le Clos grabbing the title.
The 32-year-old cleared up the confusion saying he was going for the split time to improve his chances of qualifying in the 50m freestyle event.
“We don’t have the opportunity to go three 50 freestyles and qualify here, so my coach and I agreed to use this as a semi-final type swim and I will try and do it again tomorrow,” Schoeman said.
“That was the goal (to go for the 50m time) and even if I’ve qualified for the 100m I wouldn’t have swum at the world champs.
“The reality at my age is I want to go to the world championships and put myself in a position to win medals.”
Schoeman stopped the clock at the 50m mark at 22.19 seconds, while Le Clos narrowly missed out on the 100m qualifying time by 0.02 seconds. The wily Schoeman finished the race in last place and second to last overall out of 13 heats.
Le Clos won the race in 48.95 seconds with Leith Shankland touching behind him in 49.44 seconds, and Caydon Muller placing third clocking 51.24 seconds.
With Schoeman setting a qualifying time, four swimmers have now qualified for the global championships with Olympic gold medallists Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh, along with rising star Myles Brown meeting the criteria.
In the evening session backstroke specialist Gerhard Zandberg qualified for the 50m backstroke in a time of 24.88 seconds, but as it is a non-Olympic event it would not count as a qualifier for the South African team.
Ricky Ellis touched the wall behind him in a time of 25.69 seconds, with Darren Murray finishing third in a time of 25.84 seconds.
During the morning session Zandberg came close to qualifying for the 50m freestyle when he swam a time of 22.38 seconds in the 4x50m freestyle mixed relay.
“I was close to qualifying but luckily I know the speed is there and I’ve only been back in the pool for six months, so I’ve got a couple of things to work on,” Zandberg said.
In the morning session Le Clos, the Olympic 200m butterfly champion, won his specialist event in a time of one minute, 56.35 seconds (1:56.35), the second-fastest time of the season.
Le Clos will now turn his focus to the 100m breaststroke.
“The 100 is different because you almost need someone next to you to race,” he said.
“Olympics and other meets I’ve always had someone who takes it out hard with me but tomorrow I’m going to have to do that myself, take it out hard myself.”
Of the disabled swimmers Kevin Paul swam qualifying times for the IPC World Championships in the 100m freestyle and breaststroke, while Charl Bouwer and Hendri Herbst also reached the qualifying mark in the 100m freestyle.
Results of finals on the third day of the South African Swimming Championships in Port Elizabeth on Friday:
50m breaststroke: 1 Giulio Zorzi 27.80 seconds, 2 Neil Versfeld 28.36, 3 Warren Karsten 29.10
50m backstroke: 1 Gerhard Zandberg 24.88 seconds, 2 Ricky Ellis 25.69, 3 Darren Murray 25.84
100m freestyle: 1 Chad le Clos 48.95 seconds, 2 Leith Shankland 49.95, 3 Caydon Muller 51.24
200m butterfly: 1 Chad le Clos 1:56.35, 2 Michael Meyer 1:59.24, 3 Christopher Reid 2:03.82
200m individual medley: 1 Michael Meyer 2:01.69, 2 Christopher Reid 2:04.28, 3 Ayrton Sweeney 2:04.97
800m freestyle: 1 Myles Brown 7:58.64, 2 Ayrton Sweeney 8:16.79, 3 Chad Ho 8:21.68
50m breaststroke: 1 Tara Nicholas 32.81 seconds, 2 Kelly Gunnell 33.39, 3 Justine Macfarlane 33.51
50m backstroke: 1 Jessica Ashley-Cooper 29.00 seconds, 2 Karin Prinsloo 29.27, 3 Rita Naude 30.13
100m backstroke: 1 Karin Prinsloo 1:02.02, 2 Jessica Ashley-Cooper 1:02.69, 3 Nathania van Niekerk 1:04.04
200m freestyle: 1 Karin Prinsloo 1:59.60, 2 Kyna Pereira 2:03.83, 3 Rene Warnes 2:04.52
200m butterfly: 1 Rene Warnes 2:15.41, 2 Megan Stephens 2:19.81, 3 Michelle Weber 2:21.96
800m freestyle: 1 Kyna Pereira 8:48.00, 2 Caitlin Kat 8:49.28, 3 Roxanne Tammadge 8:54.97