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Chad’s Games qualifier

It was a mixed bag of results at the South African International Invitational swimming meeting in Durban on Saturday night.

The meeting runs over two days and is an important part of the build-up the Olympic Games in London later this year.

Home boy Chad le Clos had two great wins on day one while world 50-metre breaststroke recordholder Cameron van der Burgh suffered defeats in two different events.

Le Clos swam his way to an Olympic qualifier with a time of 4min 14.93 seconds in the 400m Individual Medley.

Here’s a summing up of the main events of the day:

Womens 800m freestyle

Hungarian Evelyn Verraszto ┬áwas no match for the up-and-coming Michelle Weber in the women’s 800m freestyle in the opening event of the meeting.
The 15-year-old Weber took the race out hard from the start and the Hungarian was relegated into fighting it out for the minor placings alongside Kyna Pereira. Weber split well throughout the race to end in an excellent time of 8:44,13 while Verraszto just edged out Pereira by 0,46sec to clock 8:49,32

ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Men 100m FreestyleÔÇ¿

Gideon Louw was a man on a mission after a morning heat time of 49,48sec in the men’s 100m freestyle. But in the final, the Auburn based swimmer was not as comfortable on the first 50 metres and just took a little too long to get going. He still raced comfortably ahead to clock another solid 49,37sec. The swimmers following were narrowly separated with Hungarian Krisztian Takacs leading the pack in with a 51,27sec. Third place went to Neil Watson in 51,37sec.

Women’s 200m Freestyle
The improved Karin Prinsloo took advantage of the overseas competition in the women’s 200m freestyle as she was locked in battle with Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos. Prinsloo lead into the first turn and then they swam stroke for stroke to end under that difficult two-minute barrier. ┬áJakabos clocked 1:59,34 to edge Prinsloo out by a mere 0,14sec. Third place went to another Hungarian in Agnes Mutina with a 2:01,41.

Men’s 50m Breaststroke
A surprise came in the men’s 50m breaststroke when World Record holder Cameron van der Burgh was edged out by Neil Versfeld. The Georgia based Versfeld had a great start to put him in contention to beat Van der Burgh by a whisker 0,03sec, clocking an encouraging 28,72sec. Warren Karsten was not too far behind for third in 29,13sec.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke

Italian Chiara Boggiatto had to work hard in the women’s 100m breaststroke with five South Africans challenging her. The 2004 Olympian eventually triumphed in 1:10,63 with an excited Ronwyn Roper coming so close after a stunning second 50 metres. Roper touched in 1:10,80 to edge out arch-rival Suzaan van Biljon who took third in 1:10,85. Kathryn Meaklim, Taryn Mackenzie and Tara Nicholas ┬ácompleted a close race just another 0,97sec later.

Mens 400m IM
Chad le Clos lived up to expectations once again when he raced to the first Olympic qualifying time of the international meet in the men’s 400m IM. In doing so, he pulled Riaan Schoeman through to a QT as well.ÔÇ¿Chasing the Olympic time of 4:16,46 ÔÇô Le Clos lead from the start with Schoeman chasing hard all the way to clock a fast 4:14,93 with Schoeman ending on 4:16,02.ÔÇ¿Third place went to Michael Meyer in 4:24,74

Women’s 100m Butterfly

Thirty three-year-old Mandy Loots showed that she can still finish strongly to win races when she came from behind in the women’s 100m butterfly to record a solid 1:00,54. It was the younger Vanessa Mohr who set the pace on the first length only to succumb to the veteran Loots, clocking 1:01,68. Third placed Marne Erasmus also finished well in 1:01,87

Men’s 100m Backstroke
Charl Crous proved his consistency in the men’s 100m backstroke with another sound performance, dipping under that difficult 55 second barrier for the third time within five weeks. Crous was well ahead of national record holder Gerhard Zandberg who commended him on his victory.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£It is good to see Charl swimming these times and someone has to take over from me eventually,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£But I have done a hard training block and hope to get the times in April.ÔÇØÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Crous clocked ┬á54,86sec to Zandberg’s 55,92sec while Darren Murray showed his presence on the final 20 metres to end in 56,16sec.

Men’s 200m Butterfly

It was again SA’s crowd favourite, Chad le Clos, rising to the occasion in the men’s 200m butterfly. Still breathing hard from his Olympic QT in the 400m IM earlier, Le Clos paced well to ensure the victory from the challenging visitors. His powerful underwater final turn put him clearly in front to stay ahead of Hungarian David Verraszto and Italian Gabriele Landini. ÔÇ¿SA’s Olympic hope touched in 1:59,00 with Verraszto on 2:00,02 with Landini on 2:01,00.

Women’s 200m IM
Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry proved her world class status with another encouraging performance in the women’s 200m IM. The double Olympian and Golden Girl of Zimbabwe raced to a fast 2:12,65 and also pulled SA hope Kathryn Meaklim closer to her Olympic QT with a 2:14,11. Meaklim only has to drop a fraction more to 2:13,36 at the Olympic Trials in Durban in April.
Veteran Mandy Loots continued to excel soon after her 100m butterfly victory with a third in 2:19,29.

Men 400m FreestyleÔÇ¿

An exciting dual resulted in the men’s 400m freestyle where Heerden Herman and Myles Brown gave the crowd something to shout about. Very little separated them throughout the eight lengths and Herman had to dig deep to win in 3:52,26 from the chasing Brown who touched in 3:52,75. The chasing group were well off their pace with Nicholas Kieck taking the third spot in 4:01,94.

Women 50m Freestyle
USA based Trudi Maree proved her progress was on track with her best performance over the women’s 50m freestyle. Maree took the lead with the better start next to Karin Prinsloo, clocking 25,82sec as Prinsloo tried hard to make up the difference on the closing metres, touching second in 26,23sec. An excited and younger Emma Chelius took a well earned third place in 26,97sec.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke
Neil Versfeld made it two victories on the same day against Cameron van der Burgh, this time in the men’s 200m breaststroke. Versfeld specialises over this distance and his victory proved why as he dominated to win in 2:16,25. Van der Burgh lead early on but dropped back to fifth at the end as Hungarian David Verraszto had the fastest final 50m to take second place in 2:17,40. Countryman Akos Molnar took the third in 2:17,48 while Olympic silver medallist in Sydney in 2000, Terence Parkin, made a welcome return to finish fourth in 2:18,62.

Women 200m Backstroke
Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry finished off a busy evening with another solid performance in the women’s 200m backstroke. Now supported by Charlene Wittstock, now the Princess of Monaco, in her build up to her third Olympic Games, Coventry managed to swim away from Hungarian Zsuszanna Jakabos on the final 50 metres to clock 2:12,10 to her challenger’s time of 2:12,70. Jessica Ashley-Cooper took third in 2:16,80.

Men’s 50m Butterfly
The final event of the evening was the men’s 50m butterfly. The non-Olympic event saw Neil Watson just edge out Brett Walsh on the final stroke. Watson won by just 0,18sec in 24,60sec while the third spot was stolen by Hungarian Krisztian Takacs in 25,09sec.


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