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Reid races to national record at SA Champs… and there’s more in the tank
- Updated: April 12, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South African swimming continued to ride a wave of success on day two of the national aquatic championships in Durban on Monday.
And it looks like there’ll be a new kid on the blocks for Team South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year after young Christopher Reid swam his way to a national record and the fifth Olympic Qualifying time of the meet in the morning heats.
His 100-metre backstroke result (53.12 seconds) was one of six Olympic standard swims at the championships so far and in the Paralympic arena, Kevin Paul and Alani Ferreira both notched up their second qualifying time of the championships.
London Olympics gold medallist Cameron van der Burgh confirmed his Olympic Qualification Time in the 100m breaststroke final with a 59.66sec win while 2014 Youth Olympian Jarred Crous took silver in 1:01.10 and Craig Emslie bronze in 1:02.33.
Van der Burgh’s fellow Olympic gold medallist, Chad le Clos also booked his provisional spot by winning the semi-finals of the 200m freestyle in 1min 47.88sec with Myles Brown (1:48:05) and Egyptian Marwan Elkamash (1:48.66) second and third.
The final of this event is on Tuesday and Le Clos will be hoping to celebrate his 24th birthday in winning style.
Back to Reid and his backstroke surprise in the morning action. The Port Elizabeth born and bred swimmer’s win put him an impressive two seconds clear of Jacques van Wyk and Ricky Ellis who had times of 55.93 and 55.97 respectively.
His time also betters Gerhard Zandberg’s former mark of 53.75. Zandberg was one of the first to congratulate the new record-holder. ‘Well done Christopher Reid. That 8-year-old record was waiting for you bud. Glad I got to see it. Beautiful Olympic qualifying swim,’ he said on social media site, Facebook.
Like Jarred Crous, Reid was part of Team SA at the Youth Olympics in China, before heading west to the United States when he turned 18 and he’s now at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The 20-year-old is juggling swimming full time with studying quantative finance but he came back to SA with high expectations.
He told Road to Rio 2016: ”Two weeks prior to this meet, I snuck under the qualifying time after our NCAA championships. So coming into the meet I knew I could already swim the time. The only question in my mind was how fast I can swim below the qualifying time.
‘Realistically I was expecting to swim a time of around 53.8 or somewhere in that time range. My goal coming into the meet was a 52.90, which may be slightly unattainable for me right now, but If I’m in that time range, I’ll be very happy with what I’ve done. For me right now with my goal setting, I’m trying to set goals which are somewhat unattainable at the time, but definitely possible to achieve in the future.
‘My reasoning is something similar to that saying: “Aim for the moon, but if even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”. For me this is to just lift my own standard which will hopefully lift my level of performance. So to see a time of 53.12 in the morning, was actually very surprising, as that time is range to that “unattainable goal” of mine. So having the final this evening, I’m expecting to dip under the 53 barrier. I’m extremely confident with my swimming right now and am basically basing my success off my need to have fun while racing and being at the meet. I’m just trying to soak in all the experience and enjoy my time back in South Africa.’
The Grey High School product will also be competing in the 200m backstroke. ‘Apparently that’s my main event,’ he smiled. ‘I don’t really know what to expect though as I haven’t raced it properly in a long time. So I’m just going into it open-minded and judge it on how I feel during the race. Unfortunately I’m not focusing on the backstroke events this meet, as my plan with my coaches in Alabama is to securely qualify for two individual events and not take any chances.’
Already it’s clear that there’s a wise head on these young shoulders. ‘I would’ve loved to race some freestyle events like the 100m and 200m freestyle, as my freestyle has improved phenomenally over the past 16 months in America, but I didn’t want to risk over swimming myself and making myself unnecessarily tired.
‘My coach at Alabama is the young and knowledgeable Will Leonhart who coaches the breaststroke and Individual Medley group. He’s extremely technical in his training and has the right type of programme for me.’
There’s also a familiar South African side to the Alabama coaching set-up. ‘Former Springbok swimmer, Jonty Skinner has helped me on the technical side of my swim as well. He’s currently at the meet helping three other Alabama swimmers.’
In women’s action on Monday, Mariella Venter, Jessica Ashley-Cooper and Nathania van Niekerk topped the 100m backstroke semi-finals in 1:00.97, 1:02.36 and 1:02.69 respectively, closing in on the Olympic standard of 1:00.25, while in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals Tara Nicholas was fastest in 1:08.68 ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker in 1:08.72 and Franco Jonker in 1:08.79.
Both those finals will take place on Tuesday.
Marne Erasmus won the 100m butterfly in 59.92sec, while Vanessa Mohr grabbed silver in 1:00.34 and local Durban swimmer Rene Warnes the bronze in 1:01.48. In the 400m freestyle Caitlin Kat took gold in 4:20.19 ahead of Kristin Bellingan in 4:20.38 and Kate Beavon in 4:23.26.
Moving on to the para-swimming and six new qualifying times were achieved on Monday.
Craig Groenewald went 1:12.33 in the SB14 100m breaststroke race, while Kevin Paul (SB9) and Johann van Heerden (SB9) made the time in 1:05.10 and 1:12.64 respectively.
Ferreira (SB13) bettered her heats time by over three seconds when she touched the wall with a Paralympic Qualification time of 1:26.90 in the 100m breaststroke and added the 400m freestyle to her list when she finished with a new African Record and Paralympic qualification time of 5:21.00 during the morning heats session.
The previous record was held by Marike Naude and stood at 5:21.81 from 2011.
Emily Gray (S9) also swam the 400m freestyle heats and raced to a Paralympic qualification time of 5:05.36.
In the S14 and S15 100m breaststroke multi-disability event, the gold medal was claimed by Maritza Snyder in 1:41.82 ahead of Michaela Kretzen in 1:48.97 and Cornelia Fowler in 1:50.74.
The staging of this event has been made possible through the support provided by Swimming SA partners, Sport and Recreation South Africa, SASCOC, Arena, Rand Water and the National Lotteries Commission.
Picture of Reid in action courtesy of Anesh Debiky/Swim SA
Olympic Qualifying Times after day two:
Sebastien Rousseau – 400m individual medley – 4:14.75
Michael Meyer – 400m individual medley – 4:15.71
Myles Brown – 400m freestyle – 3:48.86
Cameron van der Burgh – 100m breaststroke – 59.66
Christopher Reid – 100m backstroke (SF) – 53.23
Chad le Clos – 200m freestyle (SF) – 1:47.88
Paralympic Qualifying Times
Kevin Paul (SM10) – 200m individual medley – 2:15.78
Kevin Paul (SB9) – 100m breaststroke – 1:05.10
Johann van Heerden (SB9) – 100m breaststroke – 1:12.64
Alani Ferreira (SM13) – 200m individual medley – 2:50.43
Alani Ferreira (S13) – 400m freestyle – 5:21.00 (heats)
Alani Ferreira (SB13) – 100m breaststroke – 1:26.90
Emily Gray (S9) – 400m freestyle – 5:05.36 (heats)
Craig Groenewald (SB14) – 100m breaststroke – 1:12.33