SWIMMING: Team SA in great form

2008-06-07 00:00

As the South African-based swimmers preparing for the Olympic Games take to the blocks to test themselves at the annual Mare Nostrum tournament in Europe over the next fortnight, the American-based swimmers have already shown their excellent form in the recent meets they have attended in the U.S.

At the Santa Clara meet in California, the Arizona-based swimmers produced outstanding performances at this stage, especially when the unofficial South African relay team of Lyndon Ferns, Roland Schoeman, Gideon Louw and Ryk Neethling got together for a test.

Their overall time set a new meet record and the challenging teams from Australia and Great Britain were over six seconds off the pace as they clocked 3:15,58. Ferns started off with a 48,98 sec. dash, followed by Schoeman (48,90) and new man on the block Louw (49,02) before Neethling proved he is still the man to anchor with a solid 48,64 sec.

Their individual races were also encouraging as Schoeman set a new meet record of 22,29 sec. to win the 50 m freestyle — breaking Aussie Eamon Sullivan’s record by 0,01 sec. Schoeman featured in the 100 m freestyle as well, but from the B-final after missing the A-final. The world champion won the B-final in 49,25 sec. — the fastest of the South Africans and just 0,1sec off top USA swimmer Michael Phelps.

It was Phelps who took the A-final in 49,15 sec. followed by Ferns in 49,33 sec. while Neethling took fifth in 49,85 sec and Louw ninth in 50,23 sec.

The 50 m freestyle also saw Neethling take third spot in 22,68 sec. while this time it was Ferns at sixth in 22,85 sec. Louw was second in the B-final in 22,97 sec.

Also competing in Santa Clara was Jean Basson who clocked up sound performances in the 200 m freestyle and 400 m freestyle, where he ended seventh in both races 1:49,63 and 3:56,58 respectively.

Darian Townsend competed a week later at the Cactus Classic meet in Phoenix along with Schoeman. It proved a positive step for him as he raced to victories in outstanding times in the 200 m individual medley and 200 m freestyle.

His 200 m IM time of 2:01,29 was just 0,14 sec. outside his national record while the second 100 m of the 200 m freestyle was excellent, turning in 54,53 sec. to then end well ahead in 1:50,59.

Schoeman finished second in the 50 m freestyle, clocking 22,56 sec. with Townsend seventh on 23,62 sec.

But the 100 m freestyle saw better performances as Schoeman won in 49,39 sec. and went 49,27 sec. in the morning heats. For Townsend, ending in third spot in 49,73 sec. was extremely encouraging. These Arizona training swimmers will be heading for a meet in Omaha, Nebraska, this weekend and then the Canadian Grand Prix at the end of the month.

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