Port Elizabeth - Roland Schoeman once again grabbed the limelight on the final day of the SA Swimming Championships as he blitzed to a World Championships qualifying time in the 50m freestyle here on Saturday morning.
The 32-year-old finished in a fast 21.88 seconds, with Reynard Wessels touching the wall behind him in 22.79, and Leith Shankland taking third in 22.90.
“A 21.8 in a morning swim at the world champs will be a top four, so yesterday was nice just to work out the cobwebs, but this morning was very good,” Schoeman said.
“I am really stoked. We were aiming for about 21.5 seconds here but it wasn’t to be, but 21.8, given everything, I am stoked.”
On Friday Schoeman caused some confusion as he raced to the halfway point in the 100m freestyle race. He stopped the clock at 22.19 at the 50m mark, while Chad le Clos went on to narrowly miss the 100m qualifying time by 0.02 seconds with a 48.95 performance.
Schoeman said his time was encouraging as he looked ahead to the FINA World Championships in Barcelona in July.
“I am really happy with where I am at. To go 21.80 at the Olympics, and to take it to 21.88 here really bodes well,” Schoeman said.
“I think 21.5 will medal and 21.3 will win gold, and I know I am as good as any of those guys. I believe I have as good a shot as anybody else.”
Schoeman said there was some unhappiness over the stunt he pulled on Friday night but he did what he believed would give him the best chance of qualifying.
“Some of the coaches were upset, saying 'why you didn’t let us know', but does Chad tell Michael Phelps what his race plan is?” he said.
“I knew what I wanted to do and what I needed to do to get a swim in, to help myself and just reaffirm.
"There is no point (for me) in swimming the 100m at the world championships.”
Schoeman said he felt reinvigorated since switching coaches at the beginning of the year, and believed their hard work was starting to pay off.
“I’ve only been swimming with Aaron (Ciarla) since January so it’s only been three months worth of hard work and I think it’s just going to get better,” Schoeman said.
In the evening session, Le Clos was set to compete in the 100m butterfly, the event in which he won a silver medal at the London Olympics.
Myles Brown, who qualified for the world championships in the 800m freestyle on Thursday, was also preparing to have a go at qualifying in the 1 500m freestyle.
The championships had not yet produced any women qualifiers, heading into the final session, though Olympic semi-finalist Karin Prinsloo was aiming to hit the mark in the 200m backstroke.
Among the disabled swimmers, Kevin Paul qualified in the 200m individual medley in the morning session, while Craig Groenewald and Challis Wright reached the standard in the 200m freestyle.