Flurry of qualifying times at SA Swim Champs in Durban

2010-04-14 00:00

ACE sprinter Roland Schoeman started the flurry of Commonwealth Games qualifying times with an outstanding swim in the men’s 50 m butterfly on the second day of the Telkom South African Swimming Championships at the King’s Park pool in Durban last night.

The 29-year-old former world record holder in this event, Schoeman was smiling all the way with a fast 23,58 second dash. When asked how banned “fast suits” suited him training under the French, Schoeman said “it suits me, definitely!”.

Schoeman will go into the final tonight confident after dipping under the qualifying time of 23,73 sec.

Next to take the stage was a “nervous” Cameron van der Burgh in the semi-finals of the men’s 100 m breaststroke. After “not feeling too good in the morning heats when I had to adjust my stroke about five times”, Van der Burgh said he was really happy to clock a personal best time of 1:00,96 — the second qualifying time of the evening.

“I am really happy as I have done more endurance work to include the 200 m event in my races. If I just go a little faster tonight, I will be satisfied. Breaking 60 seconds will be tough without suits.”

Arizona based Jean Basson then made up for losing his 400 m freestyle title to Mark Randall the night before when he took the race to Maritzburg star Darian Townsend in the men’s 200 m freestyle. Basson and Townsend were evenly matched to the 100 m mark before Basson’s characteristic surge clocked an excellent 1:48,48.

Basson indicated that he could have arrived in the country a little late for competing at this level.

Townsend was second in 1:49,68 and still has his main event, the 200 m individual medley, later this week.

“I was not feeling good today so I am a little hard on myself,” said the Olympian.

“It is only the second time I have broken 1:50 without a suit, but I don’t think I did enough training to race a long course 200 m freestyle.”

The women’s 50 m butterfly saw young Vanessa Mohr (14) take her first senior title as she edged out the more fancied veteran Mandy Loots (31) by a fraction. Mohr took the gold in 27,74 sec, just 0,05 sec ahead of Loots in a stunning finish.

While Mohr was obviously happy with her victory over the most versatile of South African women ever, Loots said: “I have a shocking history in this race.”

The men’s 50 m backstroke lived up to expectations, despite no qualifying time from Commonwealth Games champion Gerhard Zandberg, winning narrowly in 25,76 sec with Ricky Ellis (25,84) and Charl van Zyl (26,00) second and third.

Only 0,63 sec separated the top six in the women’s 50 m breaststroke, where Taryn Mackenzie stole the title in 33,22 sec ahead of an improved Jeanie du Toit (33,42) and Keri Plumstead (33,46). City-trained swimmers finished in the next three places with Clare Conlon (33,57), Ronwyn Roper (33,76) and Keryn Mullen (33,85) so close to a podium finish.

Star of the night was once again disabled swimmer Natalie du Toit who raced to an unexpected world record in the S9 category 50 m butterfly, clocking a fast 31,98 sec. She broke her own record and will be aiming at Commonwealth Games times in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle and 100 m butterfly later in the week.

The talented swimmer mixes everything from “open water swimming that includes a 10 km swim to a pool race over 50 m. So it is really difficult to judge what I am able to do at times”, said a happy Du Toit after yet another victory in the able-bodied 1 500m freestyle.

Du Toit clocked close to her best here as well in 17:05,09, while young Nicole Britz clocked up another encouraging result to take the silver medal in 17:13,95, with Bianca Hauzer taking the bronze in 17:26,16.

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