Can SA do it without Ryk?

2009-07-25 00:00

THE South African swimming team arrived in Rome on Thursday in high spirits after their six-day camp in Slovenia and the whole possible swimsuit problem seems to be over for the 13th Fina World Championships that start tomorrow.

“The reason why the team trained in Slovenia is because the conditions there are pretty similar to what they will experience in Rome, and also the fact that Slovenia is not that far away from a travelling perspective,” said one of the national team coaches, Graham Hill.

The suit provided by team sponsor Arena is the X- Glide — and no negative reports have been forthcoming except that a few tore when putting them on.

City swim star Darian Townsend enjoyed the suit, but still has the problem that may arise with his Blue Seventy sponsor from the U.S..

“The Arena suit is great, but I would like to have more time to wear it. Fortunately, I have the 4x100 metre freestyle relay [tomorrow] to test it out,” he said relaxing in his hotel room yesterday.

“I think the fastest suit here will definitely be the Jaked suit the Italians and a few others will be in. I then feel the Arena X-Glide could be next with the Blue Seventy ranked third among the suits.”

Neil Versfeld held good splits while training and is very positive to the Arena suit.

“It feels good, although a little tight on my legs. I have a few days including a time trial on Monday to test the suit a little more,” said Versfeld.

Tomorrow’ heats will tell on the opening day with plenty of action expected from the South Africans. Roland Schoeman will challenge the men’s 50 m butterfly, Jean Basson the men’s 400 m freestyle, and Cameron van der Burgh and Thabang Moeketsane the men’s 100 m breaststroke.

All eyes will be on the men’s 4x100 m freestyle relay team that includes Townsend, Schoeman and Lyndon Ferns from the Olympic gold medallists in 2004. Joining them this time out will be Graeme Moore in his debut performance at a World Champs.

The huge question will be whether they can squeeze into the final minus the old stalwart Ryk Neethling.

Wendy Trott will challenge in the women’s 400 m freestyle, while versatile stars Kathryn Meaklim and Jessica Pengelly will be in the 200 m individual medley.

Among those who greeted the team upon arrival as well was Durban swim star Chad Ho, who took the bronze medal in the five kilometre open water swim on Tuesday. “My focus was always on the 10 km open water swim but the chance came in the five kilometre competition and I took it,” said Ho.

“I would have loved to have won a medal in both races but am delighted to be able to go home with the bronze medal from the five-kilometre event.”

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