Chad, Darian in titanic duel

2012-08-17 00:00

OLYMPIC gold medallist Chad le Clos and Pietermaritzburg Olympian Darian Townsend set the tone in the opening event of the South African Short Course Swimming Championships that got under way at the GC Jolliffe Pool in the capital yesterday.

Le Clos and Townsend were locked in a titanic battle in the men’s 200 metres freestyle where Leith Shankland was brave to lead the race to the halfway mark.

Shortly after the 100 metres, it was Le Clos who used his excellent underwater turns to his advantage to overtake Shankland, his training mate.

Townsend responded immediately to the attempted break from Le Clos and the two produced an outstanding race to the finish, with Le Clos taking the gold by 0,30 seconds in 1:45,08 — both recording World Short Course qualifying times.

The next one to qualify was Darren Murray, who was well ahead in the semi-final of the men’s 100 metres backstroke, clocking a fast 52,84 seconds with still the final remaining this afternoon.

Veteran Mandy Loots continued to collect titles in the women’s 200 metres butterfly. Loots was just outside the qualifying time after clocking a sound 2:11,79 to finish well ahead of her opposition, with Kyna Pereira (2:17,53) taking the silver and Megan Stephens (2:21,55) the bronze.

The men’s 200 metres breaststroke saw veteran Terence Parkin take the race out harder than expected, chased by Neil Versfeld, Kyle Duckett and Jared Pike. It was only at the 150 metres mark that Versfeld turned on the pace to win by a comfortable margin, touching in 2:13,56, ahead of Duckett in 2:14,82 and Parkin in 2:16,01.

The women’s 100 metres backstroke saw two qualifying times during the day. Karin Prinsloo clocked a 1:00,03 in the morning heats while Jessica Ashley-Cooper went slightly faster in the first semi-final in exactly a minute — setting up the chances of two women clocking under the magical 60 seconds barrier in this event in the final this afternoon.

Roland Schoeman showed his intentions on the opening day. South Africa’s leading male swimmer to date dipped under the qualifying time in the 50 metres butterfly in the morning heats, clocking a solid 23,30 seconds. He then went even faster in the semi-final with a remarkable dash of 22,80 seconds.

His intentions were underlined again later in the men’s 4x100 metres freestyle relay where he swam last for his Tuks team and clocked an outstanding 46,49 seconds as he closed the gap, only to be edged out narrowly by 0,01 seconds by the Seagulls team.

For Jessica Pengelly, two qualifying times in the women’s 400 metres individual medley should give her the confidence for more good performances over the next three days.

Pengelly, training out of Perth, Australia, clocked an encouraging 4:35,95 to keep former world record holder Kathryn Meaklim at bay.

Meaklim touched in 4:39,10 to also qualify, while Rene Warnes took the third place in 4:45,46.

The heats take place at 9.30 am this morning followed by the finals at 4 pm.

In the multi-disability races, it was gold and silver for Tenza Abrahams and Alani Ferreira in the 50 metres breaststroke (S1-13), while the S13 and 14 category, medals went to Christelle Kriel, Cornelia Fowler and Anne Swart.

Kriel bagged her second and third gold of the evening in the 50 metres backstroke and 100 metres individual medley with Ferreira taking first place in the S1-13 50 metres backstroke race.

Later in the evening, Abrahams claimed her second gold in the 100 metres individual medley.

On the men’s side, Tadgh Slattery won the 50 metres breaststroke (S5), with the gold in the S14 category going to Craig Groenewald.

James Bezuidenhout won the 50 metres backstroke (S1-13) while Martyn Groenewald claimed top spot in the S13-14 event. Craig and James were once again on top in the 100 metres individual medley to end off the evening on a high note.

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