City swimmers steal the show at King’s Park Pool

2010-04-15 00:00

CITY-TRAINED Ronwyn Roper raced to her first national senior gold medal at the Telkom South African Swimming Championships at the King’s Park Pool in Durban last night.

Roper (22), a swim teacher in Westville, bounced back from a worrying first two days to win the women’s 200 m breaststroke. She had to work hard on the final 50 m to overcome a strong challenge from Jean-Marie Neethling, who she eventually beat by 0,54 sec to stop the watches in an exciting 2:33,77.

“I have waited a long time for this gold,” said the Seals swimmer. “The last medal I won was a bronze when I was 16 in this event, so it has been all worth while.”

Jessica Pengelly took the bronze in 2:34,78.

More medals went the way of Seals swimmers with U.S.-based Neil Versfeld taking a silver in the men’s 100 m breaststroke in 1:02,12, with favourite Cameron van der Burgh the winner in another Commonwealth Games QT of 1:01,53. But it was John Ellis who got the medals rolling for the local club in the men’s 200 m backstroke.

Ellis, based at Indian River in Florida, dropped his morning heats swim significantly to win the bronze medal in a fast 2:06,58 — just 0,56sec off the silver taken by Chris van der Sande. The gold medallist though, Charl van Zyl, came so close to a Commonwealth Games QT as he clocked up an outstanding 2:00,24.

“All I needed was 0,47 sec, I am quite devastated,” said the improving Van Zyl. “But I have got another chance if I can win the 100 m backstroke and possibly even qualify for the relay as well.”

The performance of Van Zyl was excellent, especially as he had an operation on his appendix in January.

The semi-finals of the men’s 100 m freestyle proved the perfect prelude for what can be expected in the final tonight. City star Darian Townsend led the first semi home in 50,02 sec with an encouraging 50,47 sec coming from the improving Leith Shankland, before Graeme Moore led home the second semi in a fast 49,55 sec. Gideon Louw also looked relaxed for his 49,68 sec as he shadowed Moore, while Roland Schoeman took third in 50,41 sec.

For Schoeman the 100 m freestyle was a little close to his final of the 50 m butterfly. “I felt I just did not have enough time to rest after the 100 m event, so I was caught a little off-guard and had to rush to the start of the 50 m butterfly.”

Schoeman still won the race comfortably in another QT of 23,69 sec, but had hoped to be faster. The minor medals went to Garth Tune in 24,03 sec and Neil Watson in 24,22 sec.

Generally, performances by women swimmers have been mediocre, with only one QT achieved, by Wendy Trott in the heats of the 800 m freestyle. Trott easily qualified with an outstanding swim, winning in 8:29,76, almost seven seconds faster than the QT (8:35,98).

Karin Prinsloo comfortably won the women’s 100 m freestyle in 56,28 sec from young Kayla Ferreira, who touched in 57,94 sec and Jo-Mari van Zyl in 58,41 sec. Prinsloo followed this up with a third place in the women’s 100 m backstroke in 1:03,52.

The event was won by Chanelle van Wyk who missed the elusive QT by a narrow margin. She won in 1:02,46 while the evergreen Mandy Loots took the silver in 1:03,22.

In the disability events, young Sean Clark began to make his impression when he bagged a silver medal in the 50 m backstroke. He clocked a fast 32,67 sec.

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