South Africa’s elite swimmers saved their best for last, producing some thrilling performances at the fourth and final leg of the SA Swimming Grand Prix series in Stellenbosch at the weekend.
Chad le Clos again displayed fine form in the build-up to the national Olympic trials in April, winning four finals.
On Saturday, the double Olympic medallist won gold in the 200m butterfly in 1:56.60 and the 100m freestyle in 48.92, dipping below the qualifying standards for the Rio Games in both events.
He also went under the 200m freestyle standard yesterday, touching the wall in 1:47.22, though he will need to achieve these times again at the trials to book his place in the SA team.
Le Clos also won the men’s 50m freestyle in 22.69 seconds.
Meanwhile, Tatjana Schoenmaker achieved the Olympic qualifying mark in the women’s 200m breaststroke, clocking 2:26.50 to show the glimpse of a revival in SA women’s swimming, after no female athletes turned out in the pool at last year’s Fina World Championships.
Schoenmaker also won the 50m (32.22) and 100m (1:09.39) gold medals in her specialist stroke.
In the surprise performance of the gala, Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh was stunned in the 100m breaststroke final, with Jarred Crous securing victory in 1:01.22, edging his esteemed compatriot by 0.03 to hand him a rare home defeat.
On Saturday, Van der Burgh had won the 50m breaststroke in 27.72, with Crous taking the silver medal 0.10 off the pace.