AFTER the green pool debacle of Port Elizabeth, SA swimming officials eased their world championship selection criteria and picked 13 pool swimmers instead of just the four who officially qualified last month.
Olympic champions Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, as well as veteran Roland Schoeman, will spearhead the team, who are targeting up to five medals in Barcelona from July 19-August 4.
The world-ranked trio’s travel expenses will be covered by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) – and their other 10 team-mates, who were expected to pay as much as R4000 to represent South Africa, may get to go without having to cough up anything.
“We’re in advanced discussions with government and Sascoc and I’m confident they [the swimmers] will go to the World Championships without having to contribute anything,” said Swimming SA chief executive Shaun Adriaanse said.
The team comprises nine men and eight women, four of whom are still at school.
The big omission is Olympic finalist Suzaan van Biljon, who missed the nationals because of illness, but she will get a chance to make the team during next month’s Mare Nostrum series in Europe.
Head coach Graham Hill yesterday said some youngsters were included as part of the strategy for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics.
“Competition is the best form of preparation. We are not asking them to win medals [but to] perform their best.”
Hill said he was looking for the same three medals Van der Burgh (100m breaststroke) and Le Clos (100m, 200m butterfly) won at the London Olympics, plus some extra silverware coming from the three non-Olympic 50m sprints.
Van der Burgh and training partner Giulio Zorzi are dreaming of sharing the podium in the 50m breaststroke in Barcelona, a prospect that had seemed impossible before the criteria were eased to allow swimmers to qualify in non-Olympic events.
“I was surprised when I was picked,” admitted Zorzi, a civil engineering student. “Me and Cameron always make jokes about the two of us winning medals in Barcelona together. It can happen. I finished fifth in this event at the short course [25m pool] world championships last year. It’s time to step up.”
The only other event in which SA could win two medals is the 50m butterfly, where Schoeman, a two-time gold medallist, and Le Clos will be in action.
The open water team comprises: Troy Prinsloo (men’s 10km, 25km), Chad Ho (men’s 5km, 10km), Danie Marais (men’s 5km), Michelle Weber (women’s 5km, 10km) Clarice le Roux (women’s 10km) and Kyna Perreira (women’s 5km).
The pool team is: Men: Myles Brown, Chad le Clos, Michael Meyer, Darren Murray, Roland Schoeman, Leith Shankland, Cameron van der Burgh, Gerhard Zandberg, Giulio Zorzi. Women: Jessica Ashleigh-Cooper, Trudi Maree, Vanessa Mohr, Tara Nicholas, Kyna Pereira, Karin Prinsloo, Marlies Ross, Rene Warnes.