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SA dominate heats

Just about all of Team South Africa’s swimmers went into Monday night’s finals on the first day of action in the pool at the All Africa Games in Maputo, writes Mark Etheridge.

After early concerns at the lack of entries most of the first day heats took place, barring the women’s 4×200-metre freestyle.

Pretoria’s Karin Prinsloo had a field day in the heats, breaking meeting records in both her events while 2011 World Championships double-medallist Cameron van der Burgh cruised into the 100m breaststroke final.

Prinsloo and Roxanne Tammage were our first swimmers in action, in the 100m freestyle and Prinsloo’s victory in the third of three heats was a meeting record of 56.31 seconds, beating the 56.58 swum by Lauren Roets in 2009. Tammage was second in 59.63.

Prinsloo later went on to set another meeting record in the women’s 50m backstroke. She won Heat Three in 29.86 to better Romy Atmann’s 2002 mark of 30.69.

But she was blissfully unaware of her achievements as she cooled down in the state of the art facilities. “I didn’t know they were meeting records at all,” she smiled. “I definitely wasn’t going flat out. I haven’t tapered at all for this competition so am saving something for the finals but I’m feeling good.”

Van der Burgh, for his part, barely moved out of first gear as he won the third heat of the 100m breaststroke in 1:05:38. Van der Burgh, along with a group of our top swimmers, jetted in from London at the weekend where he had been checking out the swimming facilities for next year’s Olympic Games.

“I just cruised into the final and I think I was only third or fourth fastest but that’s the way I like it,” he said. As for London, “facilities were great but I’m really impressed with this set-up. It’s strange to think that the best swimming facilities in Africa now appear to be in Mozambique.”

Also in breaststroke action was Malesela Molepo who ended fourth in his heat with a time of 1:09.04 but it wasn’t clear if that was good enough for the final.

In the 400 Individual Medley, Katheryn Meaklim won her heat in 4:59.47 and is battling with a bit of lower back pain, although coach Graham Hill reckons she’ll be fine for the final.

Bianca Meyer swam in the next 400m IM heat and ended ahead of Zimbabwe swim legend Kirsty Coventry, clocking 4:54.01 to Coventry’s 4:59.34.

Jean Basson and Darian Townsend both won their 200m freestyle heats in 1:55.63 and 1:53.20 respectively.

The final two disciplines of the morning were the 50m backstroke dashes and “veteran” Mandy Loots joined Prinsloo in the evening final with a 30.72 win in Heat One.

Then in the men’s 50m backstroke it was Garth Tune and Charl Crous who won their heats in 27.30 and 26.66 respectively.

 


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