Van Biljon bags two golds at short-course champs

2013-08-17 00:00

OLYMPIAN Suzaan van Biljon bagged two gold medals on the second day of the SA Short-Course Swimming Championships that took place at the GC Jolliffe Pool in Pietermaritzburg yesetrday evening.

Van Biljon (25) started with a solid victory in the opening event, the women’s 50 m breaststroke, winning in a respectable 31,97 to edge ahead of the challenging juniors in 15-year-old Jamie Reynolds, who stole the silver medal in 32,48 ahead of Jolandi Els (17), who clocked 32,56.

It was in the final individual event of the evening where Van Biljon continued to show her domination, taking the 200 m breaststroke title as well in 2:29,84 — with club-mates Claire Conlon and the improving Emily Visagie taking the minor medals in 2:34,32 and 2:34,95 respectively.

“While I am still winning here at home I will continue racing,” said the South African record holder, who first won a national senior title as a 14-year-old and the World Championship title in Manchester in 2008.

“I was in an unbelievable zone in that race but have not had the best training after London last year,” commented Van Biljon. “I need to make a few changes to get me to 2016 if I want to be competitive.”

Neil de Villiers followed with an encouraging swim in the men’s 100 m backstroke where he edged out Charl Crous by just 0,23, clocking a fast 53,76.

“There is a lot of underwater kicking in the short-course competition,” said De Villiers. “But I am happy with the result and having a good race with Charl.”

The women’s 100 m backstroke saw just 0,41 separating the top four swimmers with Amy Peens stealing the gold in 1:03,50 — with Janneke Malan next on 1:03,53 and Marce Loubser following in 1:03,60.

“It was always going to be close and I knew I had to get the best turn at the end,” said a smiling Peens.

Then it was the turn of Nico Meyer to impress as he raced ahead to take the men’s 50 m butterfly title – clocking a sound 24,17 to edge out Reynard Wessels in 24,58 and Wesley Morris in 25,10. “I have learnt from watching Roland Schoeman that the start and turn is so important,” said Meyer afterwards. “I was hoping to break 24 seconds, but I am happy with my time.”

The other finals saw younger swimmers excelling in the women’s and men’s 800 m freestyle events. Carmen le Roux led from the start in the women’s race to add another title to her 1 500 m freestyle gold from last night. Le Roux clocked 9:02,87 to stay ahead of 13-year-old Tasmin Tennant in 9:08,01 and Bianca Hauzer in 9:10,87.

It was an improved Tristan Doyle who rose to the occasion and left the field in his wake on the second half of the men’s 800 m freestyle, clocking an exciting 8:20,81 to win his first senior title at just 16 years old. Kyle Wittstock then won the duel for second place with Josh Dannhauser by 0,08, clocking 8:29,20.

In the Multi-Class Disability events, it was Quinton Harris who set a new South African record in the 50 m freestyle in the S4 class, clocking a 1:05,71 to lower his own mark set in Pietermaritzburg last year. Harris then impressed the crowd further when he tackled the 100 m backstroke, improving on the number one ranking in the world for the S4 class by almost 26 seconds, clocking 2:30,98.

“I just want to thank the Seals Swimming Club for all their efforts in organising the championships and the officials,” said Harris. “I just take things one day at a time, so I am very happy with my results.”

In the semi-finals events yesterday evening, Lehesta Kemp led the challenge in the women’s 100 m freestyle with a 56,15 swim while Luke Pendock produced a great swim in the men’s 100 m freestyle for the top position in 49,48. Tayla Lovemore was the best in the women’s 50 m butterfly with a 28,41 swim while Jared Pike was a clear leader in the men’s 100 m breaststroke with an excellent 1:00,67.

Nico Meyer also enjoyed a decent lead in the men’s 100 m butterfly with a 54,75 dash, while the men’s 100 m individual medley saw Wesley Morris take top spot in 56,23 and Jolandi Els the top place in the women’s 100 m IM in 1:04,10.

The third day gets under way at 9.30 am with the heats and 5 pm for the finals today.

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