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Day 8 Report : Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships

Apr 11, 2000  - Neville Smith

Dedekind Beats Top-Ranked Schoeman In Exciting Clash

Yet another South African record was broken on the last day of the Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships at the King's Park Aquatic complex in Durban on Sunday, bringing the total over the eight days of competition to a staggering 14 set by individuals and another by the KwaZulu-Natal women's 4x200m freestyle relay team.

The last record was achieved by Helene Muller of Vaal Triangle, who lowered Marianne Kriel's 50m freestyle record set in 1992 by one-hundredth of a second to 25.94 for her sixth SA record of the championships, all in the freestyle sprinting events.

Next in line to her was KwaZulu-Natal's deaf swimmer, Terence Parkin, who set three new records in the 200m breaststroke and 200m and 400m individual medleys.

Five other swimmers broke one each, Mandy Loots (CGA) (100m butterfly), Brett Petersen (WP) (100m breaststroke), Roland Schoeman (Northern Tigers) (100m freestyle), Ryk Neethling (Free State) (100m freestyle) and Theo Verster (KZN) (100m butterfly), in a special time-trial.

Kim van Selm (KZN) set new African records in the 400m and 800m freestyle finals.

KwaZulu-Natal; were easily the top points scorers with 2622 to 1520.5 by Central Gauteng, 1329 by Western Province and 1268 by Northern Tigers.

But however South Africa's swimming elite missed out on world record attempts while freestyle stars Ryk Neethling and Helene Muller closed the championships with more fine performances.

Neethling bagged his fourth gold of the gala when he won the 1 500m event for a clean sweep of all the men's races from 100m to the 1500m and Muller cracked her sixth national mark of the week.

In specially organised time trials, Penny Heyns(KZN) missed her own world 50m breaststroke record and the men's 4x50m freestyle relay team - which includes the world's two fastest sprinters in Brendon Dedekind(KZN) and Roland Schoeman - were disqualified.

Theo Verster at least succeeded in the individual races against the clock as he broke his own continental mark in the 100m butterfly to finally earn a qualifying time for the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.

Neethling swam his fifth-best 1 500m - and the quickest ever on home soil - with a time of 15min 15.27 seconds. He was followed home by Free State provincial teammates Dennis Sirringhaus(15:37.40) and Henk Markgraaf (15:51.23)

"I wanted to hurt good, and that hurt pretty good," said the psychology student at the University of Arizona, ranked second in the world in the mile.

"It was a good meet, I'm so happy," added Neethling, also the Africa record-holder in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1 500m.

Helene Muller won the women's 50m freestyle in 25.94, one-hundredth of a second inside Marianne Kriel's eight-year-old mark - although she was just outside Egyptian Rania Elwani's 25.90 Africa record. She was followed home by a fast finishing bunch that included Stacey Bowley (KZN) (26.22), American visitor Denali Knapp (Northern Tigers) (26.43), Charlenne Wittstock (KZN) (26.51), Julia Russell (KZN) (26.51) and Christine Cech (KZN) (26.65).

She hammered five continental marks in the 100m and 200m freestyle during the week.

Double Olympic champion Heyns used the "Fastskin" suit for the first time in competition.

"I just did it to test the suit," said the 14-time world record-holder, who clocked 31.16, short of her 30.83. "I don't think the legs with the breaststroke feels that good.

"If I'd swum that in a regular suit, I think it would have been a bit better, but I don't think it would have been a world record."

Dedekind, Nicholas Folker (KZN), Schoeman and Herman Louw (KZN) were disqualified after an over-ambitious start by Louw, swimming the final fourth leg.

Although the disqualification by officials appeared disputable, the four would not have beaten the unofficial 1:29.16 mark set by the United States in 1987.

They finished in 1:29.23 with Dedekind - who retained the SA 50m freestyle title in a time of 22.13 on Saturday night - registered a slow 22.89 on the first leg.

Schoeman, the top-ranked sprinter in the world, scorched an incredible 21.55 which would translate to 22.05 in a regular race - one-hundredth of a second outside his 22.04 Africa record.

Folker swam 21.96 (22.46) and Louw 22.83 (23.33).

An ecstatic Verster, who pumped his hands into the air on seeing his 53.77, said he was relieved to have achieved an Olympic qualifying criterion.

"I left it a little late in the competition. It's not very nice to swim alone," said the Durban-based professional swimmer, who managed an Olympic standard at the Pan Pacific championships last year.

"Getting the time here carries more weight (Olympic with team selection), they want to see us improving."

KwaZulu-Natal 'A' won the men's and women's 4x100m medley relays.