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Heerden hits the mark
- Updated: January 30, 2012
Stellenbosch’s Heerden Herman raced to the third Olympic qualifying time of the weekend on the second and final day of the South African International Invitational Swim Meet at Kings Park Pool in Durban on Sunday evening.
The talented Herman kept his splits close to 1:00.5 for each 100 metres of the men’s 1500-metre freestyle event where he left his opposition trailing early in the race. The student was elated after he hit the touchpads in an outstanding 15:06.11 to dip well under the qualifying time of 15:11.83.
Young Myles Brown also produced his best in finishing second to Herman in an encouraging 15:18.43 while Troyden Prinsloo found it tough going to finish third in 15:49.43.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£I am really pleased that I have made the qualifying time here,ÔÇØ said Herman. ÔÇ£Now I can just concentrate on the Olympic trials here in April.ÔÇØ
The womens 100m freestyle proved to be an outstanding race where Karin Prinsloo lead from the start to stay ahead of a hard chasing Kirsty Coventry. Prinsloo touched in 56.08sec to Coventry’s 56.60sec while the chasing group was lead home by Trudi Maree in 57,04sec.
Zimbabwean Coventry took to the water a little later in the women’s 100m backstroke where she chased the Olympic qualifying time of 1:00.82. The double Olympian ended well ahead of Prinsloo this time in 1:00.89 ÔÇô just a fraction off the mark. Prinsloo stopped the clock in 1:02.04 with Jessica Ashley-Cooper next on 1:02.71.
ÔÇ£I really wanted to do the qualifying time here, ÔÇ£ said Coventry, ÔÇ£but I ended doing the same time as the All Africa Games last year.ÔÇØ
It was that man Chad Le Clos again who rose to the occasion in the men’s 200m freestyle where he raced ahead from the halfway mark, obviously chasing the 1:47.82 Olympic qualifier. But was not to be despite a clear victory in 1:49.32. The next few places were strongly challenged by South Africans, with Jaycee Thomson heading them home in 1:51.81, with Jasper Venter stealing the third spot in 1:52.66. On Saturday Le Clos had bettered the Olympic qualifying mark in the 400m Individual Medley.
Just a few events later, Le Clos was back on the blocks in the 100m butterfly, taking the first length out just behind Neil Watson before picking up the pace strongly to touch in another victory in 53.46sec. Watson faded to 55.15sec to survive a challenge from Wesley Gilchrist who touched in 55,45sec.
When it came to the men’s 200m IM, Le Clos had some opposition from Swede Simon Sjodin ÔÇô at least on the first three lengths. The versatile Olympic medal hope then turned on the speed on the final 50m freestyle to win in 2:00.30 ÔÇô only 0.13sec off yet another Olympic qualifying time. ÔÇ£I’m a little tired so was surprised with the time,ÔÇØ was his comment afterwards.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Sjodin ended with a 2:02.09 while Italian Federico Turrini beat South African Riaan Schoeman to the touch for third in 2:04.50.
The women’s 50m breaststroke, a non-Olympic event, was won by Suzaan van Biljon in 32.98sec, just 0,06sec ahead of the younger Tara Nicholas with Jeanie du Toit taking third in 33.28sec.
The attention then turned to the men’s 100m breaststroke where Olympic hope Cameron van der Burgh was determined to fight back after his 50m defeat by Neil Versfeld on Saturday. The bronze medallist at the world championships in China last year, Van der Burgh made up for his defeat to edge out Versfeld this time by 0.58sec, clocking 1:02.43. An encouraging performance came from Chad McKenzie who raced to third in 1:03.82.
The women’s 400m individual medley was lead from the start by Hungarian Zsuszanna Jakabos with Kathryn Meaklim chasing hard all the way. But Jakabos was too strong and enjoyed a substantial lead over the last 100m freestyle leg to win in 4:42.96 with Meaklim closing fast at the end to finish in 4:44.08. Evelyn Verraszto took third place a distance behind in 4:48.52.
Jakabos was back in action for the women’s 200m butterfly where she again swam away from her opposition to win comfortably in 2:11.34 with veteran Mandy Loots chasing hard for the second place in 2:13.74. Another Hungarian Sara Joo finished well off the pace in 2:18.68.
Another non-Olympic event, the men’s 50m backstroke, saw 2011 World Championship bronze medallist Gerhard Zandberg win comfortably in 25.54sec. He was followed by Darren Murray in 26.19sec with Coenraad Swart third in 27.40.
The men’s 50m freestyle produced the closest race of the meet with Hungarian Krisztian Takacs and South African Gideon Louw locked in battle. Takacs won by just 0.01sec in 22.68sec ÔÇô a respectable time in heavy training. Werner Bosman finished third in 23.47sec.
Another Hungarian, Agnes Mutina, dominated the women’s 400m freestyle with an easy victory in 4:16.57 ÔÇô but the race developed for the next three placings with Caitlin Kat taking second in 4:19.56 followed by Rene Warnes in 4:19.72 and Michelle Weber in 4:19.74.
It was an exciting race for Ronwyn Roper in the women’s 200m breaststroke where she managed to swim to her first major victory. Although the ÔÇ£time was not what I was looking for, I am happy with the win. I am also excited that I have another chance in April.ÔÇØÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Roper won in an encouraging 2:30.80 ahead of Italian Chiara Boggiatto in 2:31.19 while Kathryn Meaklim surprised with a fast finish to take third in 2:32.22.
Then in the final chance for an Olympic qualifying time, Charl Crous was disappointed in not getting under the 1:58.48 mark in the men’s 200m backstroke. Crous did not get much pressure from his opposition as he raced to an easy victory in 2:00.39 while the battle for second went to Darren Murray in 2:03.17 ahead of Hungarian David Verraszto in 2:03.70.