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Torpedo Tandy hopes next Games will be less

20 December 2017 - 19:48 By David Isaacson
John Murray (top) and Brad Tandy dive in for the start of the men's 50 meter freestyle final in this file photo.
John Murray (top) and Brad Tandy dive in for the start of the men's 50 meter freestyle final in this file photo.
Image: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

Brad Tandy‚ who endured what might be the most bizarre international debut at the last Commonwealth Games‚ on Wednesday laid his marker to be selected for the next showpiece in 2018.

The Tandy torpedo may not have been fully primed‚ but he still sailed along the King’s Park pool to win the 50m freestyle in 22.33sec by more than half a second. 

The next three finishers‚ fellow Olympic Doug Erasmus‚ Ryan Coetzee and Armand Maritz all dipped inside the qualifying time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast‚ Australia‚ although a nation can enter only a maximum of three swimmers per event. 

The closest race of the night came in the men’s 200m backstroke where Martin Binedell‚ 22‚ had to fight back to touch in 1min 59.59sec and down matriculant Jarryd Baxter‚ 18‚ by six-hundredths of a second. Both were inside the qualifying mark. 

Duné Coetzee and Brent Szurdoki achieved qualification in their second events of the gala‚ in the 200m butterfly and 1500m freestyle‚ while Erin Gallagher ended her campaign off with victory in the 50m backstroke. 

With the trials ending on Thursday‚ 28 swimmers have achieved the times. 

Tandy‚ tied sixth in the 50m freestyle at the Rio Olympics‚ has established himself as SA’s premier pool sprinter and will be one of country’s top medal hopes outside Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh if he is selected for Gold Coast. 

Ranked third in the Commonwealth‚ the US-based 26-year-old has earned veteran status since his first step onto the international stage at Glasgow 2014‚ where his first two races were made memorable by freak occurrences. 

Preparing for his 50m breaststroke heats at Glasgow 2014 his goggles snapped. 

Diving in for the semifinals he dislocated his right shoulder and then it returned into position in the water‚ but that resulted in an illegal movement that saw him disqualified. 

“I have an extravagant dive‚” said Tandy‚ adding his shoulder had popped a couple of times in training too. 

His dive‚ however‚ is one of the best in the world‚ and the key he says is using his entire body — pulling with his arms while also kicking hard enough with the back leg to get it higher than the hips in the air. 

Tandy’s electric start propelled him into the lead in the biggest race of his life‚ at the 2016 Games‚ where he led for the first 35 metres or so. 

“My goal going there was to make the semifinals. I thought I’m in the final‚ I’m eighth‚ I can enjoy it. By making the final I had achieved beyond my expectations. 

“But I changed my mindset … when I woke up in the morning I thought: ‘Why have fun? Why not go out and try to win it?’”

Tandy has studied the race many times since‚ and noticed that in the latter stages he “started spinning instead of keeping a longer stroke”. 

“The first thing to go were my legs. I’ve been doing more kicking training‚” said Tandy‚ who still clocked a 21.79 personal best that night. 

He lowered that to 21.70 winning the US Open earlier this year. 

Now he has new goals‚ like breaking Ben Proud’s 21.76 Games record at Gold Coast‚ or even Roland Schoeman’s 21.67 national record. 

US-based Tandy‚ who grew up in Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal‚ has stayed on at Tucson after finishing his Management Information Systems degree at the University of Arizona‚ doing part-time coaching. 

“This year’s been a little tough‚” he said‚ but added he was now receiving support from the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) and sponsor MRP Sport. 

“There’s nothing worse than finishing training and trying to work out how you’re going to eat and pay the rent.

[But] I’ve finally worked out a balance between training and doing what I have to do to put food on the table.”​