Durban - Chad le Clos has won the much-anticipated 200 metres freestyle final on a night when no Commonwealth Games qualifying times were set at the South African National Aquatic Championships in Durban on Tuesday.
The Olympic gold medallist edged out a strong field in a time of one minute, 48.43 seconds (1:48.43), a hundredth of a second outside the 1:48.42 required time at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre.
He edged out Myles Brown (1:49.31) and Dylan Bosch (1:49.36) in second and third respectively as the field, which also included Calvyn Justus, the quickest in the morning heats, and Sebastien Rousseau, failed to produce the lightning time that had been expected.
"I wasn't thinking about the time too much," he said afterwards. "I figured the field will pull us through to a qualifying time.
"It's a lot slower than I thought it would be, so I'm disappointed. But I guess you get some and you lose some."
The 21-year-old was behind Bosch at the final turn, before coming back strongly over the final 50 metres.
"When we got to the final turn I saw I was behind and thought 'you better have a big turn Chad or you're in trouble'," he added. "But I think I had a good turn in the end and was able to push it home."
Elsewhere, Olympic champion and world record-holder Cameron van der Burgh stormed through his semi-final in the 100m breaststroke.
He touched the wall first in a time of 1:00.98, 12-hundredths of a second outside the 1.00:86 qualifying time, but will need to go faster in the final later this week if he hopes to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow from July 7 to August 3.
The six-day competition is doubling as the nationals as well as the official qualification event for the Scotland spectacle.
Earlier in the evening, Roland Schoeman lit up the session by posting the fastest 50m butterfly time in the world this year on his way to topping the semi-final qualifiers.
The veteran Olympian posted a time of 23.07, slightly faster than Belarusian Yauhen Tsurkin's 23.11 in January. He was followed by Le Clos (24.42) and Brett Walsh (24.53).
Gerhard Zandberg made a flying return to action after some time away from the sport, taking the 50m backstroke title in 25.30.
It was a 14th national title for the 30-year-old, who had a fall-out with Swimming South Africa last year.
"I haven't been training too much. I'm just here having fun swimming and hoping to entertain," Zandberg said after his race. "I've got nothing to prove to anyone any more."
Ricky Ellis came second in 25.52, with Charl Crous (25.64) third.
On the women's side, Karin Prinsloo was the quickest qualifier in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle semis with times of 1:01.58 and 55.19 respectively.
Vanessa Mohr won the first title of the evening when she clinched the 50m butterfly crown in 27.15, ahead of Jessica Ashley-Cooper (27.22), while Marne Erasmus (27.36) scooped the bronze.
The 50m breaststroke title was won by KwaZulu-Natal's Tara Nicholas in a time of 31.86 seconds. Franko Jonker (32.16) and Justine Macfarlane (32.42) rounded off the top three.
Michelle Weber won gold in the 1500m freestyle in a time of 16:44.62.
Results from the evening session on day two of the South African National Aquatic Championships at Kings Park, in Durban, on Tuesday:
Men's 50 metres backstroke:
1. Gerhard Zandberg 25.30 2. Ricky Ellis 25.52 3. Charl Crous 25.64
Men's 50 metres butterfly semi-final 1:
1. Chad le Clos 24.42 2. Brett Walsh 24.53 3. Ryan Coetzee 24.54
Men's 50 metres butterfly semi-final 2:
1. Roland Schoeman 23.07 2. Reynard Wessels 24.77 3. Willie Scheepers 24.81
Men's 100 metres breaststroke semi-final 1 (Commonwealth Games Qualifying Time 1.00:86):
1. Jared Pike 1:02.40 2. Ayrton Sweeney 1:03.99 3. Alaric Basson 1:04.00
Men's 100 metres breaststroke semi-final 2:
1. Cameron van der Burgh 1:00.98 2. Marko Visser 1:02.67 3. Giulio Zorzi 1:03.28
Men's 200 metres freestyle (CGQT 1.48:42):
1. Chad le Clos 1:48.43 2. Myles Brown 1:49.31 3. Dylan Bosch 1:49.36
Women's 50 metres butterfly:
1. Vanessa Mohr 27.15 2. Jessica Ashley-Cooper 27.22 3. Marne Erasmus 27.36
Women's 50 metres breaststroke:
1. Tara Nicholas 31.86 2. Franko Jonker 32.16 3. Justine Macfarlane 32.42
Women's 100 metres freestyle semi-final 1 (CGQT 54.86):
1. Karin Prinsloo 55.19 2. Lehesta Kemp 57.26 3. Danica McWilliam 58.18
Women's 100 metres freestyle semi-final 2:
1. Erin Gallagher 56.88 2. Trudi Maree 56.89 3. Marlies Ross 57.10
Women's 100 metres backstroke semi-final 1 (CGQT 1.01:39):
1. Jessica Ashley-Cooper 1:02.04 2. Rita Naude 1:05.08 3. Naomi Ruele 1:05.27
Women's 100 metres backstroke semi-final 2:
1. Karin Prinsloo 1:01.58 2. Nathania van Niekerk 1:03.45 3. Janneke Malan 1:04.56
Women's 1500 metres freestyle:
1. Michelle Weber 16:44.62 2. Carmen le Roux 17:10.38 3. Tasmin Tennant 17:22.27