The Mpumalanga leg of the South African Swimming Grand Prix started the 2016 swimming season in style with plenty of fast times and impressive performances at the Nelspruit Swimming Pool on Saturday. The event, which aims to provide additional local high level competition for South Africa’s senior elite athletes, saw Olympian Chad Le Clos win on two occasions while the rising talent of Ayrton Sweeney and Nathania Van Niekerk also scooped two gold medals a piece. Le Clos started his 2016 Olympic Games preparation with a gold medal in the 100 metres freestyle, touching the wall in 49.22 ahead of Calvyn Justus (50.42) and Caydon Muller (50.76) and later on won the 50m butterfly in 24.14 with Clayton Jimmie a close second in 24.71 and Reynard Wessels third in 25.13.
Sweeney was victorious in the 400m individual medley with a time of 4:28.29 and the 200m breaststroke in 2:18.40. Luan Grobbelaar (4:42.56) and Eben Vorster (4:43.50) were second and third in the medley race, while Duncan Rudolph (2:23.21) and Edward Johannisen (2:25.26) claimed the silver and bronze in the breaststroke event respectively. 16 year-old Van Niekerk was ahead of her competition in the 50 and 200m backstroke races, winning in 30.36 and 2:16.33, respectively.
Samantha Labuschagne finished second in 30.95 and Carissa Van Rooyen third in 31.06 in the 50m event, while Abi Meder (2:24.48) and Kristin Bellingan (2:25.14) won the silver and bronze in the 200m category, respectively. Bellingan also made her way to the medal podium in the 200m freestyle, this time to claim the gold medal in 2:06.32, followed by Rebecca Meder in 2:08.53 and Lize-Mari De Beer in 2:09.16.
Meder was another swimmer to go one better when she grabbed the gold medal in the 200m individual medley in 2:24.62 ahead of Jolandi Els in 2:25.92 and Marizel Van Jaarsveld in 2:27.66. Jessica Ashley-Cooper and Vanessa Mohr won the gold and silver in the 50m freestyle in 26.72 and 26.84 and later went on to exchange positions in the 100m butterfly with Mohr taking the gold in 1:01.76 and Ashley-Cooper the silver in 1:02.54. Matthew Meyer won silver in both the 200m butterfly and the 400m freestyle in 2:05.21 and 3:57.81 respectively, with Brendan Levy in first position in the butterfly race in 2:02.83 and Josh Dannhauser winning the freestyle in 3:57.41.
In the 100m backstroke, it was Jacques Van Wyk who collected the gold in 57.95 with Myles Brown coming in second in 58.49 and Neil Fair third in 59.05. Tatjana Schoenmaker came first in the 100m breaststroke race in 1:10.77, while Kaylene Corbett was second in 1:12.32 and Hamin Abrahams third in 1:12.68. In the 800m freestyle, Carmen Le Roux took home the first prize in 9:01.94 ahead of Charlise Oberholzer in 9:06.35 and Robyn Kinghorn in 9:30.48, while the 50m breaststroke title went to Michael Houlie in 29.56, with the silver going to Jacko Jackson in 29.74 and the bronze to Mel Stronkhorst in 30.12.
The Mpumalanga leg of the SA Swimming Grand Prix concludes on Sunday with the heats starting at 10:30 and the finals at 17:00.
Photo credit: WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA