SA Swimmers Star On Day 1

South Africa’s swim stars penciled their names in for the Rio Olympic team short list after producing spectacular performances on the opening night of the SA National Aquatic Championships held at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre in Durban.  The phenomenal spectator support added to the electric atmosphere as a new African Record, four Olympic and two Paralympic qualification times were posted.  Sebastien Rousseau and Michael Meyer dominated the 400 metres individual medley with SA’s first two Olympic qualification times of the competition.

Rousseau’s time of 4:14.75 edged out Meyer’s 4:15.71, both dipping under the required 4:16.71, while Ayrton Sweeney won the bronze in 4:24.48.  In the tightly contested 400m freestyle, Myles Brown came from behind to scoop the gold with an Olympic qualification time of 3:48.86, just 0.07 seconds ahead of Egypt’s Marwan Elkamash in 3:48.93, both going under the set 3:50.40, with Brent Szurdoki winning the bronze in 3:52.34.  Cameron Van Der Burgh did not disappoint in the 100m breaststroke semi-finals.

Van Der Burgh, who holds the Olympic gold in the event, raced ahead of the pack in an Olympic qualification time of 59.69, with Jarred Crous coming in a close second in 1:00.88, just under 0.31secs of the 1:00.57 requirement.  The final of the event will be held on Monday.  In the 100m butterfly semi-finals, Marne Erasmus, Vanessa Mohr and Jessica Ashley-Cooper took the top three positions for tomorrow night’s final in 1:00.16, 1:00.71 and 1:01.11 respectively, while the gold in the 400m individual medley final went to Marlies Ross in 4:50.26, the silver to Kirsty McLauchlan in 4:53.98 and the bronze to youngster Rebecca Meder in 4:57.06.

A strong Paralympian contingent will be expected at the Rio Paralympic Games after an outstanding performance where two Qualifying times and an African Record were clocked tonight.  Kevin Paul (SM10) was first to race to a Paralympic qualification time in the 200m individual medley, winning the event in 2:15.78, to the required 2:17.20, with Johann Van Heerden finishing second in 2:28.22 and Jean Pretorius third in 2:33.84.  Alani Ferreira (SM13) was next in the water, also in the 200m individual medley, clocking a new African Record and setting a Paralympic qualification time of 2:50.43, over two seconds under the 2:52.27 standard and taking just under eight seconds off Marike Naude’s 2011 record time of 2:58.10.

Shannon Martins won the silver in 3:26.95 and Michelle Bloem the bronze in 3:26.97.  In the S14 and S15 multi-disability 200m individual medley, Challis Wright claimed the gold in 2:25.46 ahead of Aaron Putz in 2:30.16 and Raymond De Freitas in 2:38.94, while on the ladies side, Christelle Kriel came first in 2:47.07, Michaela Kretzen was second in 3:04.87 and Cornelia Fowler third in 3:36.18.  In the B Finals, Christoff Ras was first in the 400m individual medley in 4:39.02, while Andrew Brown came in second with a time of 4:40.82 and Luke Erwee third in 4:42.67.

In the 400m freestyle, Reynier Pretorius took the gold in 4:06.54 while the silver and bronze went to Dayne Wilson (4:06.92) and Erwee (4:09.50).  Marne Frylinck was first in the 400m individual medley B Final in 5:06.85, Hanim Abrahams took the silver in 5:07.03 and Robyn Kinghorn the bronze in 5:11.36.  The Day Two heats will start at 10:00 while the finals will begin at 18:30 daily.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott