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Day 2 Report : Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships

Apr 5, 2000  - Neville Smith

More Records Fall at SA Nationals

Terence Parkin (Kwa-Zulu Natal) scuppered his own African 400m individual medley record as he blitzed his way into the South African Olympic team at the Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships at the Kings Park Aquatic Complex in Durban on Monday.

The mercurial shaven-headed star torpedoed the eight laps in 4min 19.31secs - and that soon after running Brett Petersen (Western Province) dangerously close in the 100m breaststroke.

Kim van Selm (KZN) claimed the only other African record of the day, winning the 400m freestyle in 4:17.46, although she was marginally short of the South African mark and Olympic qualifying standard. Teammate"s Kirsten van Heerden(4:22.72) and Desiree Martin (4:26.93) filled the minor placing

Double Olympic Penny Heyns (KZN) posted her third best 100m breaststroke time on home soil, but she was not particularly happy with her performance.

"I haven't swum my race yet," said the 14-time world record-holder, who clocked 1:07.77 in the semifinal ahead of next best Sarah Poewe (1:10.39).

Julia Russell, racing in the other eliminator, was third fastest in 1:12.05.

"Hopefully tomorrow I can time things a bit better," added Heyns, who swam 1:07.84 in the heats.

"I don't feel too comfortable with my stroke. It's a matter of not having raced enough this season."

Heyns opted out of the World Short Course Championships in Athens last month after a close friend in Canada died after a car accident.

"Mentally I'm scattered," the 25-year-old said. "Normally I know my stroke count, but on the second 50m I didn't know what I was doing. My thoughts are scattered."

Parkin, winner of the 200m breaststroke bronze medal at the Pan Pacific championships in Sydney last year, did not swim quite as fast as he and coach Graham Hill had planned.

"We were looking at 4:18, but a second either way is neither here nor there," Hill remarked. "It was a good swim."

Parkin, speaking in sign language through his coach, said he had been unsure of how he was progressing during the race.

"I didn't really know what time I was swimming, but I went hard in the (final) freestyle (leg)."

Earlier, Petersen was unable to improve on the 100m breaststroke continental mark he set the previous day, touching in at 1:02.15 to edge out Parkin (1:02.41) for gold. Greg Owen (Central Gauteng Aquatics)(1:03.53) despite being ahead of Parkin at the turn was unable to withhold his challenge in the final ten meters but still finished well ahead of teammate and former continental and national record holder Chris Stewart (1:04.01).

"I was hoping to go a bit faster than yesterday, but with the pressure of the final it just didn't happen.

"But I'm happy I won," said the Florida State University student, whose 1:01.62 on Sunday rocketed him to sixth spot on the world rankings.

"I know I've still got a lot left in me, I've got a lot of things to work on."

Mandy Loots (CGA), who won six gold medals at the All Africa Games last year, claimed the women's 100m butterfly title - although she was also unable to reproduce her continental mark and Olympic qualifying time of 1:00.71 of Monday night.

She clocked 1:01.22 to fend off a strong-finishing Julia Russell (KZN) (1:01.39). Renate du Plessis, after reaching the turn in first place, fell back to take bronze in 1:02.57.

"I felt a bit tired at the end," Loots said. "I'm just happy for the win."

Defending champion Ryk Neethling (Free State) cruised through the 200m freestyle semifinals in 1:49.06, within a second of his African record. A game Herman Louw (KZN) (1:52.97) and teammate Mark Jollands (1:53.50) could just not do enough to haul Neethling in who after an electrifying start left the rest of the field in his wake.

Charlene Wittstock(KZN) (1:02.93)also set herself up for a successful defence of her 100m backstroke title on Tuesday evening with the best time of the semifinals. She finished ahead of American visitor Denali Knapp(Northern Tigers) (1:03.02) and Zimbabwean Olympic hope Kirsty Coventry (1:04.30).