DURBAN, South Africa, April 17. AT the South African Championships/Commonwealth Games Trials in Durban, now
underway, former University of Nebraska Cornhusker Helene Muller — who won several Big 8/12 sprint titles during her stay in Lincoln under the tutelage
of then Coach Cal Bentz — broke her own national and continental standard in the 200 free with a 1:59.87 — .02 faster than her time from Sydney.
Teammate Sarah Poewe swam a pr to win the 200 breast with her world-leading 2:25.10, not quite a half-second faster than her old pr of 2:25.54 from the
The National Olympic Commitee of South Africa has told Swim South Africa that those swimmers making a certain time standard would be eligibe to make the plane to Manchester, and the cuts are extremely stringent.
Poewe's time qualifies her but Muller's is not a lock, as the requirement is 1:59.32.
On the men's side, it will take a 2:01.67 to qualify in the 200 IM, for example, and that time is faster than the South African record of 2:01.95 by Terence Parkin from the last Olympic Trials. Theo Verster qualified first in the semis with a 2:02.91 — a drop of .18 from his old pr of 2:03.09. Parkin was 2:11+ but he'll be competitive in the finals, no doubt.
However, that tough 200 IM took a bit out of Verster and he was runner-up in the 100 fly to Lyndon Ferns, 55.46-55.79. In the semis he went 53.62, just a tenth off his pr-NR 53.53 from earlier in the year. However, the qualifying standard is 52.75!
In the 200 breast, Parkin, the Olympic silver medalist, won in 2:16.20, a far cry from the necessary 2:12.20.
During tonight's final evening of competition, Poewe won the 50 breast in 32.47, well off her pr of 31.45 from last years's WCTs. In the men's 50 breast, Peterson won in 28.78, slower than his 28.48 from the semis.
The women's 100 back went to Renate Du Plessis (pr 1:03.35). She was a member of Coach Greg Troy's University of Florida's Lady Gators team that won this season's Southeastern Conference Championship title. The men's title went to Gerhard Zandberg (pr 57.23).
Muller added a second gold to go along with her win in the 200 free when she zipped to a 56.27 100 free victory, far off her pr-NR and African Record 55.19 from Sydney. Du Plessis added gold No. 2 with a 27.84 50 fly victory, Gator teammate Hendrik Odendaal won the men's titler (25.31), Zimbabwean Mandy Loots won the 400 IM (4:56.16) and Parkin won the men's race in
None of these winning times equaled the selection standard so unless they're eased and/or revised, South Africa will only be represented by Poewe in Manchester.
– Bill Bell