Top swimmers in action at SA Champs

Cameron van der Burgh and Chad Le Clos are both competing in tonight's championships.

Cameron van der Burgh. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South African swimming stars Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos are both in action tonight at the South African National Swimming Championships.

Le Clos has a busy night ahead with three races taking place in the space of one hour: the 400m Individual medley, the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle.

He will be looking to add to the three gold medals and a silver medal he already picked up at the Durban championships.

Le Clos most recently qualified to compete in the 200m backstroke at the Commonwealth Games, and says he is working hard to get into shape for the upcoming games in Glasgow.

"For me the Butterflies this year aren't too much of an issue because I am at the stage where I know that I can deliver at the Commonwealth Games in the 100m and 200m fly. I'm working on my backstroke and freestyle races. I've got the medley, and two big races before the medley, so I'm not expecting too much. But it's all building blocks for the Commonwealth Games."

Le Clos told EWN Sport that 2014 is going to be a very good year for South African swimming.

"It's been really good so far. A lot of the youngsters are coming through, so I think it's going to be an exciting year. Hopefully the older guys like Van der Burgh and Roland [Schoeman] will keep doing really well. We've got a mixture of youth and experience, which is really cool."

Van Der Burgh, who is competing in the 50m breast tonight, said the competitive requirements in South Africa have increased this year.

He believes raising the bar domestically ensures South African swimmers perform better on the international stage.

"Each year they try to put the bar a little bit higher, and in the end they're just trying to get people prepared for international level competitions so that they don't just barely qualify. You don't want to rock up on the other side and not do well, and this is preparing the guys to be able to go over, be competitive, make finals and compete for medals."

Van der Burgh told EWN Sport his preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are right on track.

The Olympic Champion has already qualified for the games after comfortably winning the 100m breaststroke. He stopped the clock at 59.50, just behind the time of his Australian rival Christian Sprenger, who managed a 58.87 last week at the Australian Nationals.

Van der Burgh said it should be a great contest between the two.

"It's the fastest I have been in season this year, so I'm pretty excited. The rivalry between the Australian and I is quite fierce and quite strong. To have the first and second placed swimmers from the Olympics and the World Championships in the same pool is going to be a great duel, and I look forward to seeing him there."

Van der Burgh said things have drastically improved since last year's national championships.

"One thing that the swimmers are all still pushing for is to get the federation to organise for the champs to be broadcast. From there, the sport will become a lot more professional and corporate sponsors will get involved because TV time will be included. But it's a definite improvement from last year. It's always nice when the pool is blue and not green and we can see the other side."