Olympic swimmers Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos are on course to give South Africa a golden Wednesday here at the 15th World Swimming Championships.
Van der Burgh eased his way into the final of the 50m breaststroke with two brilliant performances on the third day of the 15th Fina World Championships.
It was business as usual for the Pretoria-based swimmer when he easily won his heat in the morning in a time of 26.78 seconds yesterday. In the semifinals he swam a little slower in 26.81, winning the second semifinal and qualifying for the final in the fastest time.
The world record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke said, after he won silver in the 100m breaststroke final, he had a bit of a shoulder niggle.
“I had treatment with the needles and today it seemed to be fine. I am very happy with my time as this is my favourite event. I always say that the 100 breaststroke is my mistress as I flirt with it sometimes, but the 50 breaststroke is like my wife,” he said with a smile.
Fellow South African Giulio Zorzi also qualified for the final in the eighth place in a time of 27.44.
“This is great as I did not think I would do so well. After a good start I kicked air twice so that gave me a bit of a fright that I will not qualify, but I am happy that I did. I am predicting that Cameron will win the event in a new world record time in 26.60 or 26.50,” said Zorzi.
Zorzi gives South Africa the rare opportunity to win two medals in one event at the world championships – a feat South Africa last achieved in 2005 at the Canada world championships when Roland Schoeman won silver and Ryk Neethling won bronze in the 100m freestyle.
Van der Burgh was not concentrating on bettering the world record.
“I rather concentrate on swimming my best race otherwise you lose focus. I am happy that Giulio made it into the final. I can help him a little to focus as I have the experience and it is his first world championships,” said Van der Burgh.
Le Clos cruised into the final of the 200m butterfly, beating the field in the morning heats in 1:56.21 and then later posting the fastest time in the semifinals of 1:55.33.
“I felt relaxed but I saw Peng Wu pushing hard, so I had to dig deep to win the heat. But it was nice swimming in the first semifinal, that took the pressure off me.
“Tomorrow is going to be a different story. It will be tougher, but I am going to focus on swimming my race,” said Le Clos, who beat Michael Phelps in the event at the London Games.
Karin Prinsloo (19th 200m freestyle in 1:59.50) and Myles Brown (16th in 800m freestyle in 7:57.69) failed to qualify.
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