Stars Townsend and Roper rise to occasion at Short Course Champs

2010-08-10 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG stars Darian Townsend and Ronwyn Roper rose to the occasion on the final day of the Telkom South African Short Course Championships at the G.C. Jolliffe Swimming Pool in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Townsend was in a class of his own when he recorded his second world championship qualifying time (QT) in the men’s 200 m individual medley. The Seals star was over a second under the QT with 1:58,08. There was an encouraging performance from Kyle MacMillan as he raced to the silver medal in 2:01,07.

For Roper it was a gutsy performance as she raced to her first gold medal in the women’s 100 m breaststroke, coming from behind to win in 1:10,59. The 23-year-old beat her more fancied opponents, Kathryn Meaklim and club-mate Claire Conlon, by the narrowest of margins.

Meaklim took the silver in 1:10,80, and Conlon, who showed tremendous improvement, clocked 1:11,08.

Roper showed her versatility when she stood up just two events later to challenge the women’s 100 m butterfly. Although the evergreen Mandy Loots (32) took the title in 1:00,22, it was Roper who showed her strength in taking the silver medal in a personal best 1:01,52.

It was a satisfying performance for 22-year-old Leone Vorster as she raced to her third medal of the tournament in the women’s 200 m freestyle. Vorster, with a reputation of missing the QT’s at major meets, made easy work of the mark by coming in 0,4 seconds off the Africa and South African record with 1:57,18.

Wendy Trott, the South African 800 m freestyle record breaker and winner of the 400 m freestyle, did very well to break that magical two-minute barrier to clock 1:59,62.

There were many other world championship QTs from a number of other Olympians.

Former world record holder George du Rand was well under the QT in the men’s 200 m backstroke when he clocked an encouraging 1:55,36.

Another world record holder, Cameron van der Burgh, took his second gold in the men’s 50 m Breaststroke when he clocked 27,14 sec, while fellow Olympion Gerhard Zandberg proved he is preparing well for the 2012 Olympics when he clocked a very fast 24,59 sec to win the men’s 50 m backstroke.

Channelle van Wyk ensured her place in the World Short Course Championships team when she recorded her third QT in the final of the women’s 50 m backstroke, clocking 28,21 sec.

The women’s 200 m individual medley saw the most versatile and talented line-up ever in the history of South African swimming. The 19-year-old Jessica Pengelly came from behind to win an exciting race under the QT with a 2:13,48, as veteran Loots chased her home in 2:14,08.

Kathryn Meaklim stole the bronze from Seals stars Bianca Meyer and Roper with a 2:15,60.

South Africa’s new distance sensation, Heerden Herman, was in a class of his own as he came close to breaking the 15-minute barrier in the men’s 1 500m freestyle.The Stellenbosch student added his name to the list of World Short Course Championships qualifiers with an outstanding 15:01,10, well inside the QT of 15:06,84.

In the multi-disability groups, local Sean Clark (Seals) raced to his fifth title, winning the 100 m freestyle in a fast 58,69.

But it was multiple world record breaker Natalie Du Toit who continued with her form, before leaving for the IPC World Championships later this week, with another world record in the 100 m freestyle. She broke the time during the heats and again in the finals when she recorded a 1:02,27.

It was another successfully organised tournament by the local Seals Club in conjunction with Swimming South Africa.

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