'Slow' Chad Le Clos still gets the job done

18 December 2017 - 20:44
By David Isaacson
Chad Le Clos.

The world 200m butterfly champion got surprised last night when organisers at the Commonwealth Games trials in Durban called his race some 20 minutes ahead of schedule. 

“I don’t like to make excuses‚ I hadn’t even suited up‚” said Le Clos‚ who won in 1min 58.01sec — slower than the 1:56 he had targeted. 

“But it was slow‚ let’s be honest‚” added the star swimmer who had had recently warned that because of the hard work he had been doing in training since his last race last month‚ his times would be less than impressive at the King’s Park pool.  

In the last race of the night Le Clos won the 100m freestyle in 49.74‚ ahead of Calvyn Justus (50.35) and Leith Shankland (50.51)‚ who also beat the qualifying times. 

Shankland‚ a year away from becoming a chartered accountant‚ returned to the pool recently after more than two years in retirement to lose excess weight he’d picked up.

Having rediscovered the joy of the sport‚ he’s gunning for Gold Coast 2018 in April to add to the Games medals he won at Glasgow 2014. 

By last night 17 swimmers had achieved the qualifying times set by Swimming SA. 

But the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is demanding that all entrants in individual events be ranked in the top 10 of the Commonwealth. 

Only a handful of the qualifiers here have fulfilled that criterion so far‚ and Le Clos happens to be one of them. 

He’s ranked No.1 in the world in the 200m ’fly with his 1:53.33 from the world championships‚ but his effort last night places him 10th in the Commonwealth. Job done. 

The qualifying times in effect here correspond to the B standards used for the world championships in Budapest earlier this year. 

So far only three swimmers have achieved the tougher A standards — which aren’t required — and Le Clos isn’t one of them. 

Tatjana Schoenmaker‚ who missed an Olympic qualification last year by one heart-breaking hundredth of a second‚ is one of them‚ along with Cameron van der Burgh in the 100m breaststroke and Ayrton Sweeney in the 400m individual medley. 

Schoenmaker went 2:25.83 in the 200m breaststroke in the morning heats and then comfortably won the final in 2:26.46. 

The duo behind her‚ Port Elizabeth matriculant Kaylene Corbett (2:29.18) and local hero Emily Visagie (2:29.46)‚ who also beat the qualifying mark. 

“It’s not so much about me now‚” said Schoenmaker when asked if her confidence had grown in the past year. 

“It’s more about motivating the other guys. I’m not top eight in the world yet‚ but my goal is Tokyo 2020. That’s all our goals.”

US-based Marlies Ross‚ after failing to qualify in the 400m IM and 200m freestyle‚ finally achieved her qualifying time in the 200m IM‚ winning in 2:17.33.

“The last four months I haven’t been training much long course‚” she said‚ explaining she had been competing in yards trying to qualify for the NCAA gala. 

“It’s been tough transitioning to long course metres.”​