Olympic times tumble in Durban

2008-04-03 00:00

Arizona team-mates Jean Basson and city star Darian Townsend both raced to Olympic qualifying times in the 200 metres freestyle on the third day of the Telkom National Swimming Championships at the Kings Park Pool in Durban last night.

Basson repeated his qualifying time done in the semi-final and went a little faster with another outstanding finish, clocking 1:47,79 — pulling Townsend through to his first qualifying time with a solid 1:48,68.

“I am now really tired of all this racing and have withdrawn from the 100 metres freestyle,” said Basson. “I have done what I came here to do.”

“I am happy I have got this time behind me now,” said Townsend. “In 2004, I did the qualifying time in the 200 metres freestyle and made the team in the 4x100 metres freestyle relay where we won the gold. Hopefully this is a good sign for us. Arizona is definitely the best place to train.”

Townsend still has the 100 metres freestyle and 200 metres Medley to go in the championships for further Olympic qualifying opportunities, whereas Basson can now coast through and relax before they both have to stand up and race in a 4x200 metres freestyle relay along with Jasper Venter and Sebastien Rousseau who took the third and fourth places respectively in 1:50,60 and 1:50,74.

If this team can break 7:20,00 in the time trial, there is a chance they could well be heading for Beijing later this year.

Suzaan van Biljon really proved that she is back to form when she achieved her fourth Olympic standard time in the 200 metres breaststroke. The talented Tuks swimmer raced well to come close to her best with a 2:26,88.

The possibility of breaking this mark is certainly there with the 12-year-old Jessica Liss hoping to also get under the Olympic time of 2:28,21.

Liss managed a personal best 2:29,36 out on her own and should respond with Van Biljon out front.

Two Olymic qualifying times fell in the men’s 200 metres breaststroke. The first went to Neil Versfeld in the morning heats when he came within 0.06sec of Terence Parkin’s SA record set at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He clocked 2:12,56 and then took things a little easier in the semi-final to conserve his energy for tonight’s final.

William Diering tightened up in the heats to miss the qualifying time after a great start. But in the first semi-final, he kept it together and raced to his first qualifying time and broke the SA record by 0.62sec with an outstanding 2:11,88. Tonight’s final looks set for an amazing tussle between Diering, Versfeld and Cameron van der Burgh.

Then it was another brilliant performance from Lize-Mari Retief in the women’s 100 metres butterfly semi-final. The talented 21-year-old set a blistering pace to break her own national mark and set her second qualifying time of the meet in 58.70sec — and she was chased home closely by the evergreen Mandy Loots who needs to shave another 0.24sec off her 59.59sec posted last night.

Following Retief was the men’s 100 metres butterfly where national record holder Lyndon Ferns earned another Olympic time in the semi’s. He clocked a fast 52.70sec and could well challenge his record of 51.90sec in the final tonight. Warren Grobbelaar, training in Kentucky, U.S., needs to improve marginally to make that Olympic mark of 52.87sec after posting 53.35sec.

Wendy Trott was out on her own in the women’s 800 metres freestyle and definitely needed someone to push her a little harder. She achieved another Olympic time but “thought I could go a lot faster. But another qualifier time is good enough.”

So far in the tournament, 26 Olympic qualifying times have been achieved by 11 swimmers with still a few more swimmers that are expected to excel.

Among the multi-disabled competition, Shareen Sapiro secured her place in the Para-Olympic team when she set a new world record in her S10 disability category in the 50 metres backstroke. Sapiro clocked 34,10sec in the heat and then improved further on the time in the final.

The men’s 100 metres freestyle and 200 metres IM for men and women are the main events today.

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