Swimming: Local swimmer off to London

2012-04-21 00:00

CITY Olympian Darian Townsend was a relieved swimmer as he raced to his first qualifying time on the fifth day of the SA National Swimming Championships and Olympic Trials at the King’s Park Aquatics Centre in Durban last night.

Although Townsend won the 200 m freestyle on Wednesday, his 1:47,88 was just 0,06 sec off the Olympic QT.

In his opening swim last night, the 27-year-old came within 0,07 sec of winning the men’s 100 m freestyle after a massive tussle with Gideon Louw and Roland Schoeman (both Northern Tigers).

Although Louw swam to an Olympic QT the night before in 48,74 sec, he went on to win his first title in this event after touching a fraction ahead in 49,23 sec with Schoeman sneaking in the second spot in 49,25 sec and Townsend at least bagging the bronze in 49,30 sec.

Within the hour, Townsend was back on the blocks in the second semi-final of the men’s 200 m individual medley. The pressure was even greater when Chad le Clos raced to his fourth Olympic QT with a 1:58,87.

Townsend responded with his time of 1:59,98 to pencil his name on the Olympic list. The final this evening will prove one of the most exciting ever in the 200 m IM, with Sebastien Rousseau still aiming at an Olympic mark after his 2:00,41 semi-final with Townsend.

“I am so relieved to have this one under my belt,” said Townsend. “The final will be a great race with Chad swimming so well at the moment.”

Talented Suzaan van Biljon bagged an Olympic qualifying time in the 200 m breaststroke in the second semi-final with a fast 2:25,89 — comfortably under the 2:26,89 mark.

Olympian Mandy Loots (Central Gauteng) took the honours in the women’s 200 m butterfly for the 13th occasion in a time of 2:12,49, while Bianca Meyer (KZN) had to be content with second place in 2:16,53 while Lisa Cowling (Western Province) was a distant third in 2:22,52.

A disappointed Neil Versfeld came just short of that elusive Olympic time of 2:11,79 once again in the 200 m. Although he touched well ahead of 2000 Olympic silver medallist Terence Parkin and Rory Buck, he was marginally slower than his previous heat and semi-finals times with a 2:12,73 to Parkin’s 2:15,63 and Buck’s 2:17,71.

“I made every effort I could in all three swims,” said Versfeld afterwards. “Had I known I was going to just miss all three swims by such a small margin, I would have waited to give everything in the final only. But it was not to be.”

Karin Prinsloo (Northern Tigers) needs to lift things a little more when she tackles the women’s 100 m freestyle this evening. Her semi-final at 55,63 sec is still short of the QT of 54,57 sec.

The men’s 200 m backstroke is poised for yet another battle as Charl Crous (KZN) and Darren Murray (Northern Tigers) won their respective semi-final races in 2:00,10 and 2:00,18.

Another city swimmer rose to the occasion in the 200 m backstroke. Martin Binedell ended in fifth position to qualify for the senior final after winning the Elite Youth section.

He clocked a time of 2:03,78 to also equal the South African 16-year-old age group record held by Charl Crous.

Natalie du Toit dropped two seconds off her heat time in the women’s S9 100 m butterfly, finishing in a paralympic qualifying time of 1:12,34.

Day six’s heats start at 9.30 am today, while the finals will begin at 6 pm. Entrance is R15 per person.

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