Perfect birthday present for Chad

2010-04-13 00:00

BIRTHDAY boy Chad le Clos rose to the occasion to win his first senior title and produce the only qualifying time on the opening evening of the Telkom South African Senior National Swimming Championships at the Kings Park pool in Durban last night.

It was all the more satisfying for KZN’s Le Clos, who powered his way past title holder Sebastian Rousseau over the last 50 m to win the men’s 200 m butterfly in 1:56,86 — 0,81 seconds faster than the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games. He equalled Le Clos’s lifetime best for the event, set last year, when wearing the now-banned “fast suits”. Rousseau faded to a 1:58,09, while Wesley Gilchrist took the bronze in 2:00,69.

“You can’t possibly know how I feel at this moment,” said the 18-year-old. “There is so much pressure on us to reproduce times we set previously with the new suits, so I just set out to race against Sebastian. I didn’t expect to beat him at all, but when I saw I was catching him early in the last 50 m, I thought I could beat him.”

It was the perfect birthday present to celebrate his 18th birthday yesterday, and it’s also the first time he has won a senior national title.

Alabama-based Mark Randall (Border) also put in an outstanding performance to cause an upset when he beat defending champion Jean Basson in the 400 m freestyle.

The 24-year-old Randall swam a calculated race, just holding pace-setters Riaan Schoeman and Basson for the first 200 m before making his move over the last 100 m to win in 3:49,97, only one-hundredth of a second outside the Commonwealth Games qualifying time.

Basson touched in 3:51,01 for second place with early leader Schoeman third in 3:51,86.

“I’ve still got the 1 500 m free to swim,” said Randall, “and it’s the distance I prefer so, make no mistake, I will be aiming for a qualifying time”.

Defending champion in the women’s 200 m freestyle, Leone Vorster, was a little disappointed with her winning time of 1:59,68, after ending just 0,39 seconds outside the qualifying time needed for India.

“I had hoped to go faster, but I did not really have anyone close to me,” said the 22-year-old marketing student from Polokwane, who has spent the past three years studying for a marketing degree at the University of Arizona.

Vorster finished almost two seconds ahead of a fast-finishing Wendy Trott (WP, 2:01,39), who pipped Greek swimmer Eleni Kosti (2:01,55) for second place.

The evergreen Mandy Loots (CGA) showed that at 31 years old she still has some swimming in her, with her first victory of the week in the women’s 200 m individual medley, clocking 2:17,75 as Jessica Pengelly (WP) and Bianca Meyer (KZN) closed in on her in the final few metres to take the silver and bronze medals. Pengelly touched in 2:18,04 while Meyer was satisfied with her 2:18:49.

Among the inaugural youth events taking place alongside the seniors this year, City swimmers did well as Tara Nicholas and Tyne Potgieter took the silver and bronze medals in the 50 m breaststroke, clocking 34,04 seconds and 34,18 seconds respectively.

Among the events taking place this evening, there are three City swimmers in the final of the women’s 50 m breaststroke. Claire Conlon, Kerryn Mullen and Ronwyn Roper will be in with a chance of medal placings.

World record holder Darian Townsend begins his title chase against former Arizona team-mate Jean Basson in the 200 m freestyle where a host of other competitors could pose a threat. Sebastian Rousseau and Riaan Schoeman are the main ones to look out for.

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