Schoeman halts Le Clos victory charge

10 April 2014 - 02:00 By David Isaacson
BACK SCRATCH: Chad le Clos swims the backstroke yesterday during the SA swimming championships at Kings Park in Durban
BACK SCRATCH: Chad le Clos swims the backstroke yesterday during the SA swimming championships at Kings Park in Durban
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Sprint veteran Roland Schoeman swatted aside the challenge of Chad le Clos in the 50m butterfly last night to scupper the young star's bid for a record eight individual national titles.

Cameron van der Burgh and Karin Prinsloo also produced crackerjack performances in the Kings Park pool, winning their races unchallenged in times that qualified them for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

But the Le Clos versus Schoeman clash had been billed as the contest of this gala - it was always going to be Le Clos's most difficult task, and he didn't even come close.

Schoeman, a former two-time world champion in this event, led from the start and powered home in 23.11 seconds, smashing Le Clos by more than half a second.

Le Clos, who clocked 23.86, insisted he wasn't disappointed with the defeat. "It would have been a miracle for me to beat him."

Earlier in the evening Le Clos bagged the 200m backstroke title in 1min 57.94sec, a Commonwealth qualifying time.

SA's fastest backstroker is, in fact, not a specialist in this event - which speaks volumes about Le Clos's class and versatility. If he were a rugby player, he'd be like Patrick Lambie, except with the ability to play loose forward and hooker too.

With three SA titles so far, Le Clos can still equal the record of seven individual crowns, shared by his coach Graham Hill and 2000 Olympic 200m breaststroke silver medallist Terence Parkin. Le Clos also qualified third-fastest for tonight's 100m freestyle final.

Van der Burgh swam his fastest-ever 100m breaststroke in SA, clocking 59.50, the second-best performance in the world this year.

Prinsloo, like Le Clos, took her gold tally to three, as she produced SA records in both the 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke.

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