Records tumble in the pool

2008-10-17 00:00

Darian Townsend took on the 100 m freestyle world record holder to open his World Cup debut off on perfect note at the Kings Park pool in Durban last night.

The Seals star was in a determined mood as he forced the pace in his duel with Sweden’s Stefan Nystrand, turning in a fast 22.24 sec. Nystrand pushed hard to close the gap into the third turn, only to see Townsend put his head down on the final few strokes to claim one of his finest wins, clocking a personal best 47.24 sec with the Swede second in 47.51 sec.

“The 100 m freestyle is not my main race, but it definitely is my favourite one,” said Townsend. “It’s always a great feeling winning in front of your home crowd, but this one is even more special.”

Wesley Gilchrist produced another of his typically fast finishes to edge out Aussie Kyle Richardson, snatching the bronze medal in an exciting 48.59 sec.

Townsend then went on to his second win in the men’s 100 m individual medley, edging out Tunisian Oussama Melloulli by 0.53 sec, clocking 53.37 sec. Townsend will be in action again today in the 200 m freestyle, 200 m IM and 50 m freestyle.

Olympic gold medallist Melloulli was in fine form with two victories earlier. He took the 400 m IM in 4:08,84 after surviving a strong challenge from Riaan Schoeman who was second in 4:09,07 and the 400 m freestyle in a fast 3:42,32.

Cameron van der Burgh kept the SA flag flying as he took on Aussie Christian Sprenger in one of his favourite races, the men’s 50 m breaststroke. Van der Burgh was not really challenged — racing to an outstanding 26.45 sec to lower his Africa and SA record by 0.16 sec.

George du Rand set the first Africa and SA record in the World Cup in the morning heats when he toppled Gerhard Zandberg’s mark by 0.39 sec, touching in 51.50 sec. In a difficult decision, Du Rand opted to compete in the men’s 200 m butterfly instead in an attempt to hold onto his 200 m butterfly record. It was in the end, the wrong decision as Sebastien Roussouw took the gold and the Africa and SA record in a fast 1:55,73.

There were more Africa and SA records for the South Africans. Kathryn Meaklim set a new SA mark in the 200 m IM in an outstanding 2:10,09 after her win in the 800 m freestyle. Melissa Corfe took second in the 800 m freestyle before tackling the 200 m freestyle where she ended third in 1:58,45. She completed a great day with a second place in the 200 m backstroke breaking the Africa and SA mark in an excellent 2:07,17.

The other Africa mark went to William Diering who chased down Sprenger all the way, missing the gold by just 0.71 sec.

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