Short Course Swim Champs get under way

2010-08-06 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG star Darian Townsend will get his Telkom South African Short Course Swimming Championships under way with one of his favourite events at the GC Jolliffe Pool in Pine Street this morning.

Townsend tackles the men’s 200 m freestyle in the opening event and will be up against the improved junior in Chad le Clos, who will only compete on the first day before leaving for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

But there will be a few others aiming at the medal placings as Jasper Venter will be trying to get back to his Olympic form from 2008, while Wesley Gilchrist is always a danger man, together with Heerden Herman and Leith Shankland. Russian Vladimir Sidorkin could also pose a threat.

Le Clos will also compete in one of his favourite events later today, the 400 m individual medley, where he continues his healthy rivalry with Olympian and Africa record holder, Riaan Schoeman.

The women’s 50 m breaststroke features a number of local swimmers, including Ronwyn Roper, Claire Conlon, Tyne Potgieter, Nikki Kirkby and Tara Nicholas.

They will be challenged by Justine MacFarlane and Jeanie du Toit as the swimmers go through elimination rounds until the final is contested by just two swimmers tomorrow evening.

More Olympians will take to the water in the men’s 100 m backstroke with George du Rand and Gerhard Zandberg up against the talents of younger stars Garth Tune and Charl van Zyl.

The rivalry between veteran Mandy Loots and Kathryn Meaklim as South Africa’s most versatile swimmers will start in the women’s 200 m butterfly. Adding Bianca Meyer to the line-up promises more outstanding finishes and then a little later, the 400 m individual medley, will see Meaklim and Meyer needing to overcome the talents of Jessica Pengelly, who recently performed well at the Australian Short Course Championships.

Africa record holder Neil Versfeld heads up the men’s 200 m breaststroke, but will be joined by arch-rival William Diering once again. These two always enjoy great racing and with younger stars Ashley Oliver and Kyle Duckett in the fold, a fast time should result.

Loots will be in the water again for the 100 m backstroke, where she will need some extra speed to challenge sprinters Chanelle van Wyk and Karin Prinsloo, although the ever improving Jessica Ashley-Cooper is likely to also threaten for the medals.

Then it will be all eyes on South Africa’s most accomplished sprinter in Roland Schoeman as he takes to the water for the men’s 50 m butterfly. A former world record holder over this distance, Schoeman will be aiming at some solid performances in the pool where he set the world record over the 50 m freestyle last year.

Schoeman should have the strength to keep sprinters Graeme Moore, Garth Tune and Neil Watson at bay.

Para-Olympian Natalie du Toit will also be competing in a number of events during the weekend.

The heats get under way at 9.30 am with the finals at 5 pm this evening.

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