Pengelly leads charge for ladies

2009-04-16 00:00

The versatile Jessica Pengelly broke the drought of no World Championship qualifying times among the women with an outstanding performance in the 200 m breaststroke on the third day of the Telkom National Swimming Champs at the King’s Park pool in Durban last night.

The Capetonian, currently in her matric year and “taking it easier this year” according to coach Santa van Jaarsveld, certainly looked determined for success.

Pengelly started her evening off with a 200 m freestyle semi-final where she clocked a fast 2:03,89 to earn the third spot in the final tonight, and with just one event to rest, tackled the 200 m breaststroke semi-final. Pengelly picked up the pace significantly on the final length to clock the first World Champs QT for the women, touching in 2:28,65.

In the first semi-final, Kathryn Meaklim also took the opportunity to qualify, but her attempt fell just off the pace by a mere 0,30 sec in 2:29,01. With young Jessica Liss in the mix on a 2:30,87 for the final tonight, this is set for a real tough finish.

The next lady to rise to the challenge was ironically Western Province team-mate Chanelle van Wyk in the 50 m backstroke, where she broke the 2002 national mark held by Charlene Wittstock and earned her first World Champs QT. Van Wyk raced to an impressive 28,55 sec to break the record by 0,63 sec, and also sliced 0,31 sec off visiting Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry’s Africa record at the same time.

Olympian Wendy Trott then followed her team-mates to make it number three for Cape Town with a superb finish in the 800 m freestyle. Set the daunting task of racing out on her own to challenge the 8:31,53 QT, Trott brought the second 400 m home faster, and this she achieved so well to clock 8:31,18 and write her name on the list for Rome.

While the women were making headway with qualifying times, the men continued to show their depth. Heading this charge was Jean Basson, who took the 200 m freestyle title in 1:46,64 ahead of Jasper Venter in 1:48,25, while butterfly ace Sebastien Rousseau took the bronze in 1:49,36.

Then in the 200 m breaststroke, Olympians Neil Versfeld and William Diering swam stroke for stroke in preparation for tonight’s final, separated by only 0,10 sec with Versfeld the victor in 2:13,74. Both should go well under the QT and possibly under that magical 2:10 barrier as well.

Gerhard Zandberg became the ninth male to snatch a QT for Rome in the 50 m backstroke. The World Champion clocked a 25,67 sec dash and was followed by Charl van Zyl on 25,93 sec and Garth Tune on 25,94 sec — both of whom will be aiming at that 25,88 sec QT this evening.

The disabled swimmers continued to churn in the world record performances in their respective categories. Shireen Sapiro broke the 200 m backstroke world record on Wednesday and added the 50 m backstroke to her name yesterday. She set a 33,83 sec mark in the morning heats and then went a little faster in the final, clocking 33,52sec.

Jennifer Higgins broke the 100 m breaststroke world record in the Down Syndrome category and followed this up last night with another mark in the 100 m butterfly, clocking 1:43,75.

Craig Groenewald continued with his gold medal rush in the 100 m butterfly, breaking his own SA record by 0,38 sec in a 1:02,65.

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