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Townsend in top form

By Mark Etheridge

Olympic legend Michael Phelps stole the headlines with a world-leading 1min 56.32sec victory in the 200-metre Individual Medley at the Indianapolis Grand Prix swimming meet at the weekend but our own Darian Townsend was right up there as well.

Phelps, a 14-time Olympic gold medallist, blasted past Joseph Roebuck’s 2012 best of 1:58.16 set at the British Gas Olympic selection meeting in London last month.

And close in Phelps’ wake was 2004 Olympic relay gold medallist Townsend.

The KwaZulu-Natal born swimmer took silver in 1:59.28, the eighth fastest in the world this year. Significant though was the fact that he edged Phelps’ main US opposition Ryan Lochte into third (1:59.37).

Now based in Tucson, Arizona, it was Townsend’s second fastest time to date, and augurs well for the national championships coming up in Durban later this month.

Not only did he show his cards in the medley but earlier in the competition he also set a personal best en route to victory in the 200m freestyle, winning in 1:47.46 ahead of fellow South African Jean Basson in 1:47.94. And in the 100m free he again ended just behind Phelps in third spot. Nathan Adrian won in 48.62 ahead of Phelps (48.74) and Townsend (49:14).

For Phelps, the meeting was particularly nostalgic ÔÇô it was the same pool where he qualified for his first Olympics back in 2000.

Speaking to Road to London 2012, Townsend was understandably delighted. “Ja, I’m very happy with how I swam in Indianapolis. To go those times a couple of weeks before our Olympic trials is really encouraging.

“I’m back in Arizona now for the week and leave on Sunday to come back to SA. I’ll spend a week at home in Pietermaritzburg before I go down to Durban for the trials starting on 16 April.

“So no more meets between now and the trials, just focusing on getting some rest and fine-tuning the small things in the water than will make me faster in two weeks.”


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