Swim sprint star Brendon Dedekind ( Pietermaritzburg Seals) stole the show on the opening day of the SA "Telkom" Short Course Championships at the Ellis Park Aquatic Complex in Johannesburg on Thursday, breaking an African record and then a Commonwealth mark en-route to winning the 50m breaststroke title.
The electrical engineering student - who took the 50m freestyle gold in the world's fifth-fastest time ever at the Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney at the weekend, first scorched the newly constucted Ellis Park 25m-length pool in 27.89 seconds in the morning heats to better Chris Stewart's (Linrand) record of 27.98.
Then the 23-year-old thrashed more than half-a-second off that in the evening semi-final as he dipped to 27.23 - eight-hundredths of a second faster than Paul Kent's three-year-old Commonwealth mark of 27.31. Dedekind was slightly slower in the final in a time of 27.72. "The whole thing with sprinting, and especially breaststroke, if you set up your first two strokes, you can take it from there." Dedekind, who last year became the first man from Africa to dip below 22 seconds for the short course 50m freestyle, was not prepared to predict on what he was aiming for in that event on Friday. "I know what times I'm going for in my head... my mouth is shut." But then he spoke about the 21.30 second world record. "It's still a fast time. I'm not going to put pressure on myself to do it now. I can do it in the future." Adding to the speculation that he is seeking the world record on Friday is the fact that he has scratched from all other events on the day - 100m butterfly, 100m individual medley and 100m breaststroke - to focus purely on his favourite freestyle race.
A tired Penny Heyns (Toti) won the women's 50m breaststroke title, coming within one-10th of a second of the 30.77 world mark in the semi-finals. The 24-year-old 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke long course world record-holder slowed in the final and finished in 31.07. "I'm so tired I don't know if I'm coming or going," said Heyns, who took gold for the 100m and 200m breaststroke at the Pan Pacifics. "I think I'm going to scratch from the 200m tomorrow (Friday). I have to be careful because the All Africa Games is the focus."
Cape Town schoolgirl sensation, 16 year old Sarah Poewe (Vineyards), who ended third in the 200m behind Heyns in Sydney, took silver in her second best 50m short course time in 32.03. "I'm really excited about the time," said the teenager, who set her best of 31.95 early in the year. "It's going fine at the moment," said Poewe, who will be favourite to win the 200m if Heyns does pull out. "Tomorrow is another day and we will see how it goes."
The times by Dedekind, Heyns and Poewe were all better than the qualifying standards for the World Short Course Championships in Athens next year. Deaf Durbanite, 19 year old Terence Parkin (Seagulls), who won Pan Pacs bronze for the 200m breaststroke, had a busy night when he picked up three medals. He won the 400m individual medley and finished second in the 200m freestyle and 50m breaststroke. But he missed the qualifying times in all three events. Other winners to achieve the standards were Linrands' Herman Louw (200m freestyle) and Dolphins' Mandy Loots (200m butterfly).