The Grand Prix
THERE seems to be a general lack of enthusiasm for the Swimming SA (SSA) Grand Prix Series judging by the poor turnout at the Johannesburg leg over the weekend.
Granted, swimming at altitude may not be conducive to fast times but is still an opportunity to race in a World Championship year.
The meet attracted a lone Olympic swimmer in Douglas Erasmus while rising star Mariella Venter,
added some sparkle over the two days.
Douglas and Venter won three medals apiece while they also produced the closest to what could be considered world-class times
Venter, who narrowly missed out of selection for the Rio Games when she swam 0.72 seconds short of the qualifying time in the 100m backstroke, had her sights set firmly on earning selection for the Fina World Championships in Budapest, Hungary later this year.
She posted a creditable time of 2:18.20 in the 200m backstroke while she also finished at the top of the podium in the 50m and 100m backstroke.
Although the main aim was to qualify for the world championships, Venter would also be looking for a podium place at the junior edition in Indianapolis in August.
“I am still 17 this year, and I will try to get top four or three (at World Junior Swimming Championships) depending on my training cycle and how everything evolves this season,” Venter said.
“World champs would be the goal, especially getting those times that I wanted last year, so if I can do that it would be great.”
She won the 50m backstroke in a time of 29.51s, and also touched first in the 100m backstroke yesterday in a time of 1:03.00 before bagging silver in the 50m butterfly finishing second behind Gabi Grobler (28.94s), clocking 29.18s.
After making his Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in the 50m freestyle, where he crashed out in the heats, Erasmus has set his sights on qualifying for this year’s World Championships in both the splash-anddash event and the 100m.
Erasmus swam personal best times at last year’s SA Swimming Championships in Durban where he clocked 22.26 seconds in the splash-and-dash event to qualify for the Games while also setting a new 100m freestyle PB of 49.54s.
The 26-year-old opened his season with a 100m freestyle time of 50.53s at the Ellis Park Swimming Pool before rounded off his Saturday swimming with a 50m butterfly victory in a time of 24.98s.
“I am extremely happy, I didn’t expect that myself, at this stage of training you don’t know where you are going to be at,” Erasmus said.
“In the 50m I’ve done the time a few times, so the focus is to constantly under the time and try and win.”
Yesterday Erasmus won his specialist 50m freestyle event in a time of 22.87s to finish the gala with three gold medals in the bag.
The next stop on the fourlegged Grand Prix Series is in Durban on February 4 and 5 where more of the country’s top swimmers are expected to make an appearance including Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos.