Riaan Schoeman races to first qualifying time in swim of the night

2010-04-16 00:00

OLYMPIAN Riaan Schoeman produced the swim of the night when he raced to his first Commonwealth Games qualifying time on the fourth day of the Telkom South African Swimming Championships at the King’s Park pool in Durban last night.

Schoeman was one of four qualifiers in an action packed evening, but the diminutive Durbanite proved his versatility and domination of the men’s 400 m individual medley after clocking an outstanding 4:14,80 — a personal best time without the use of the “fast suits”.

Schoeman’s time places him second in the world rankings at this early stage of the year, behind Roberto Pavoni of Great Britain, who has done a 4:14,55. Chad le Clos, who qualified in Monday’s opening session in the 200 m butterfly, was second in 4:19,14 and Jonathan Hill third a distance back in 4:28,50.

Georgia-based Wendy Trott came so close to her national record in the women’s 800 m freestyle, clocking an encouraging 8:27,11 to secure her second qualifying time within 36 hours. “I am extremely happy with my time at this stage, but would have liked to have gone under 8:26,” said the Capetonian. “But I still have the 400 m freestyle to come, so I am hoping for a better result there.”

Natalie du Toit finished a determined second place in 8:59,09 with Rene Warnes taking the bronze medal in 8:59,51.

Du Toit’s time was over two seconds under her own world record in her disability category. She had earlier also achieved a qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games in the 100 m butterfly.

A smiling Chanelle van Wyk can go into tonight’s women’s 50 m backstroke in a more relaxed mood after she qualified with a fast 29,05 sec.

The glamour event of the evening, the men’s 100m freestyle, lived up to expectations and was closely contested from the start, despite the absence of the injured title holder, Lyndon Ferns.

As expected, Olympian Roland Schoeman powered away on the first 50 m from the chasing pack of Gideon Louw, Graeme Moore and Darian Townsend. Louw did not get the best of the start and had a long way to catch up.

Schoeman set a fast pace as Louw caught Moore and Townsend at the turn and set about catching Schoeman.

Schoeman maintained his pace enough to bag the gold in 49,51, a fraction ahead of fast-finishing Louw (49,62 sec), with Moore taking third (49,99 sec) while Townsend (50,09 sec) was fourth.

Charl van Zyl was only 0,06 second outside the qualifying time in the semi-final of the 100 m backstroke, clocking 55,14. Van Zyl just missed out on qualifying for the 200 m backstroke on Wednesday, and is determined he will achieve his target in tonight’s 100 m final.

While Townsend is the favourite to win tonight’s 100 m butterfly final after an encouraging 53,88 dash, he may scratch this final in favour of the 200 m individual medley, which is his favourite event.

Mandy Loots, the seasoned 32-year-old who is enjoying her 18th appearance at the senior nationals, led the way home again in the women’s 100 m butterfly final.

Although her winning time of 59,71 was 0,36 second outside the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games, she was the only one to break the one-minute barrier with Vanessa Mohr second in 1:02,18 and Bianca Meyer third in 1:02,68.

Loots was unfazed at not having qualified, and said optimistically: “I’ve still got the 200 m back and 200 m fly ahead of me, so I still have a lot to look forward to.

“It has been a bit of a change swimming without the ‘fast suits’, but I am enjoying the normality of it all.”

Ronwyn Roper topped the list of qualifiers in the women’s semi-finals of the 100 m breaststroke in 1:12,39 and Karen Prinsloo was the fastest qualifier in the 50 m freestyle in 26,28 sec, but both will have to go a lot faster in tonight’s finals to qualify.

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