By Karien Jonckheere
DURBAN, South Africa, April 21. IT was a night of emphatic victories on Day Three of the Telkom South African National Swimming Championships in Durban Thursday. Jean Basson came within just one hundredth of a second of his best time as he cruised to victory in the 200 freestyle. The 18-year-old swimmer had little trouble from his rivals throughout the race and finished in 1:49.57, over three seconds clear of second placed Jasper Venter (1:52.70) and third placed Eugene Hulley (1:53.86).
While it seemed like a comfortable swim for Basson, he admitted afterward: "That definitely wasn't easy. It was one of the toughest 200s I've ever swum. We just got back from Australia where I was swimming at the Commonwealth Games and I'm still pretty tired I think. I swam my best time in the semifinal yesterday and was only a hundredth off it tonight so I'm pretty happy."
Basson will be heading to the University of Arizona in August where he will join three of the "awesome foursome" who won Olympic relay gold in Athens two years ago – Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend.
"I can't wait – it can't come quick enough," said the enthusiastic Basson. "There are guys I know there and it will push me to train harder. I'll also start doing gym work which I haven't done before and fix up my starts and turns – which they do a lot of over there.
Later in the evening, 16-year-old Cape Town swimmer Wendy Trott bagged her third consecutive 800 freestyle title. Swimming in lane one, Trott went out in front from the start and eventually finished over 10 seconds ahead of second placed Kathryn Meaklim (9:00.67). Trott's training partner, five-time Paralympic champion Natalie du Toit, who recently collected double gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, finished third in 9:00.95, narrowly missing out on her first dip below the nine minute mark.
"I quite enjoyed swimming in lane one because my coach could show me my times during the race," said Trott. "It didn't go quite as well as I had hoped but I think I'm tired from my 200 freestyle (the semifinal in which she finished third quickest earlier in the evening) and it's been hard to keep racing since the Commonwealth Games."
Trott, who is now aiming for selection for the World Youth Championships in Brazil later this year, still has the 1500 freestyle and the 400 individual medley to go.