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Riaan eyes London

By Mark Etheridge

Riaan Schoeman will be sleeping that much easier at night now after getting a lot closer to being part of Team South Africa at the Olympic Games in London later this year.

The Durban youngster, 22, ticked off the first qualification criteria in his home town less than a week ago when he swam the 400 metre Individual Medley at the international meeting at King’s Park.

He swam a time of 4min 16.02sec to get inside the mark by 0.44sec, as yet another Durbanite, Chad le Clos won the event in 4:14.93 to also qualify.

Now the two have to better the qualifying mark at the national championships in April, at the same venue.

“I’m very pleased to have qualified,” Schoeman told Road to London 2012 this week. “The new Olympic criteria are quite challenging and SASCOC have set a very high standard so I’m pleased that I was able to do it!

“Getting the QT meant a lot because I’m looking to take part in my second Olympics and obviously improve on my position from Beijing.”

Schoeman ended 12th in the 400m IM at the 2008 Olympics and has come a long way since! “My training has been improving every day since I came back from World Championships in Shanghai in August where I ended ninth and just missed the final and Olympic QT.”

Despite focusing on the 400m IM Schoeman is not putting all his eggs into one basket. “I’m also trying to qualify in the 200 backstroke or the 200m IM as well but I’ll just see how my training goes and then decide which one I will compete in at trials.

When not swimming Schoeman is studying for a B Comm degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology but obviously in an Olympic year his focus is on the pool.

“My coach Alisdair Hatfield and I have been working on a specific Medley program that is finally starting to pay off. I’m really excited to see what the rest of the season bring and my next major competitions will be the Midmar Mile and the Olympic trials in April.”

The Midmar is close to Schoeman’s heart and it’s a race that has been good to him. ” I won it in 2009 and came third in 2010. Since I started swimming Midmar I’ve always finished in the top 15ÔǪ it fits well into my program because right now I am doing quite a bit of distance and clocking about 14-15km a day and I’ll start to taper off closer to trials.”

He’ll certainly be looking forward to that taper as between studies and the pool his day is a busy one. “My days are definitely quite full. I swim at 5.30am and then head off to class at 9am, have a lunch break and then depending on the schedule I either go back to class at 12 or just relax until 3pm and then head off to the pool again.”


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