DURBAN - Three African and domestic records were the highlights of the second evening of the "Telkom" S.A. National Aquatics Championships being held at the Kings Park Aquatic Centre.
Despite the high humidity, there was a reasonable crowd (+-1,000) to witness an exciting evenings racing.
Brett Peterson (Border) started agressively from lane 2 in the mens 100m Breastroke, turned on 28.81 and held on to win in a new African record of 1:02.45, bettering his previous mark by .31sec. Christopher Stewart (CGA), 1:03.74 worked hard off the turn, but could not make up the deficit, with 18 year old Greg Owen (CGA), 1:04.00 chasing all the way.
"I wasn't confident," said a tired Peterson after the event. " I've been on a long taper, participated in NCAA Championships, the flight to Africa...., they've all taken their toll. I knew my only chance to beat Chris wouls be to take it out hard and hold on the final stretch. I must thank the Lord for helping me on this one."
An upbeat Stewart commented," I only realised he(Peterson) was ahead of me at the turn and really worked the last 50m, but wasn't enough. It's tough comming from NCAA Champs, then to Hong Kong where I broke the African 50m and 100m SC records. Sure I'm disapointed but a credit to Brett for swimming a great race.
Penny Heyns (KZN), 1:08.01 looked impressive in the 100m Breastroke final, winning comfortably from Sarah Poewe(WP), 1:09.91 and Julia Russel (KZN), 1:11.30. This was her fastest Long Course time since the 1996 Atlanta Olimpics and currently ranks her number one in the world in this event.
"I didn't feel good and believe that I could have gone faster," said a tired Heyns after the race. " my stroke rate is low due to the fact that I've been swimming a lot of SC recently. It's something my coach, Jan Bidrman and I will concentrate on during the buildup to the Pan Pacs later this year."
Simon Thirsk (WP), 56.54 continued his good form by winning the 100m Backstoke convincingly from Greg Main Ballie (KZN), 58.94 and Justin Lawrence (CGA) 59.20.
In the womans 100m Backstroke, Charlenne Whittstock(KZN), 1:05.38 edged out Kirsty Coventry (Zim), 1:05.55 and Taryn Ternent (CGA), 1:05.68 in an exciting race that went right down to the line.
Mandy Loots (CGA) 4.31.76 collected her second title of the competition when she held off a strong challenge from 15 year old Natalie du Toit (WP), 4:51.83 to win the 400m IM for woman in an exciting final. Both swimmers bettered Loots' continental mark of 4:51.94 set at the same venue during January, 1999. Melisa Bester (FS), 5:03.43 filled the minor placing.
The 400 IM for men saw 18 year old Terrance Parkin (KZN), 4:21.48, "smash" his domestic and continental mark by 3.10 sec from Adrian Bosch (CGA), 4:31.34 and 16 year old George du Randt (FS), 4:34.99.
Parkin, a deaf mute spoke to us through his coach, Graham Hill after the event. Although not overconfident, both had expected a good result after his 4:16.34 at WSC Champs in Hong Kong recently, which was also a continental best. They felt that he would aquit himself well in the 200m Breastroke tommorow where he is aiming for a sub 2:15.
The 100m Butterfly heats and semifinals produced no "fireworks" in the mens division with Theo Vester (KZN) and Ryan Kelly (CGA) well ahead of the other finalists. The womans event, however will be a close tussel between Renate du Plessis(WP), Candice Nethercott(CGA), Candice Crafford (KZN), Mandy Loots (CGA) and Kirsten van Heerden (KZN). These finals will be swum tomorrow evening
In the morning heats for the 100m Freestyle for men, Nicholas Folker (KZN) came within .01 sec of Roland Schoemans' African record of 53.31 and expectations were high for him to better this in the evenings' semi finals. He started convincingly with a fast 24.15 over the first 50m, but Ryk Neethling (FS), 24.60 and Brendan Dedekind (KZN), 24.49 "turned on the gas" over the last 50m to overhaul him to set up an exciting final for tomorrow evening. The finishing order of Neethling, 50.42, Dedekind, 50.62 and Folker, 50.70, should without a doubt, set up one of the most exciting finals of the competition tomorrow evening.
"It's exciting, although I'm not surprised," stated an enthusiastic Neethling after the event," I know I have the speed and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. No one has been under 50 seconds for the 100m Freestyle in South Africa .... I'm going to give it my best shot and surprise some people ! It'll be great to come away with the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1500m titles."
The womans 100m Freestyle should also prove to be a closely contested item on tomorrows' program with all eight finalists within .80 sec of each other. Charleene Whittstock (KZN) and Kim van Selm (KZN) look like the obvious title contenders.
The evening concluded with the 400m Freestyle relays, with Kwa Zulu Natal again dominating proceedings. The mens event proved to be a close tussel with KZN, 3:27.80 holding off a fast finishing Central Gauteng,3:28.86, with Western Province 3:33.82, a distant third.The womans event saw KZN "A", 3:56.03 win convincingly from KZN "B", 4:00.23 and Northern Gauteng "Tigers", 4:00.74.