By John Lohn
EAST LONDON, South Africa, April 11. COMPARED to last summer, when the South Africans sizzled at the Olympic Games, the times from the South African Nationals were modest – to say the least. Still, the headlining names from Athens took care of business last week.
As expected Ryk Neethling and Roland Schoeman highlighted the action, as they combined for three victories and went head-to-head in a pair of events. The Olympic medalists, who helped South Africa to a world record and gold in the 400 free relay in Athens, split their battles in the 50 and 100 free events.
In the 50 free, Schoeman narrowly edged Neethling, as his 22.84 was slightly quicker than the 22.87 registered by his mate. As for the 100, Neethling turned the tables with a winning time of 49.42, ahead of Schoenman’s 49.98. During the semifinals, however, Schoenman hit the wall in 49.45. Neethling also won the 50 butterfly (23.89).
At this summer’s World Championships in Montreal, Schoenman and Neethling will look to carry forth their momentum from last summer. Aside from South Africa’s win in the 400 free relay, Schoenman left Athens with a silver medal in the 100 free and bronze in the 50 free.
On the women’s side, three competitors claimed a trifecta, including Melissa Corfe. The winner of the 200 freestyle in 2:03.37, Corfe won the 100 (1:05.10) and 200 (2:15.08) backstroke events. Meanwhile, Wendy Trott was the winner of the 400 (4:19.36), 800 (8:51.02) and 1,500 freestyle (16:43.84) events. The third triple-winner among the women was Mandy Loots, who finished first in the 100 butterfly (1:00.18), 200 fly (2:13.43) and 200 individual medley (2:18.53).
The silver medalist in the 200 breaststroke at the 2000 Olympics, Terence Parkin won the 100 breast (1:03.81) and 200 breast (2:17.48) while George Du Rand doubled in the 200 backstroke (2:01.72) and 100 fly (54.83). For the women, Suzaan Van Biljon prevailed in the 50 breast (33.10) and 100 breast (1:10.32) and was second to Tammy Laubscher in the 200 breast.
Troyden Prinsloo and Robin Francis were also double-winners, with Prinsloo reaching the wall first in the 800 free (8:01.89) and 1,500 free (15:21.95). Francis was tops in the 200 I.M. (2:04.00) and the 400 I.M. (4:22.65).
Other victories among the men were claimed by Mark Randall in the 400 free (3:53.13), Jasper Venter in the 200 fly (2:06.33), Jean Basson in the 200 free (1:50.97), Marco DiCarli in the 50 back (26.20), Gerhard Zandberg in the 100 back (57.00) and Louis Lotter in the 50 breast (28.93). Other female winners were Lauren Roets in the 50 free (26.47), Chanelle Van Wyk in the 50 back (30.75), Lize-Mari Retief in the 50 fly (27.55), Rene Mouton in the 100 free (58.22) and Keri Shaw in the 400 I.M. (4:56.63).