PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, April 20. THE South Africans are definitely making up for lost time with back-to-back timed finals sessions each day. Today featured another run of World team qualifying attempts as swimmers also vied for titles at the South African Nationals. For those that haven't been keeping up, a burst pipe shut down the meet for two days, forcing a switch to a timed finals schedule that eschewed the standard prelims, semis and finals slate.
In the morning session, and having already secured a spot on the Worlds roster in the 50 free with a 22.19 split as part of his 100 yesterday, Roland Schoeman tracked down the title with a sizzling 21.88. That time fell just off his sixth-place Olympic swim of 21.80 and demonstrates that Schoeman is still a force to be reckoned with despite the issues that have plagued South African Swimming that includes loss of major sponsorship dollars. His time this evening also puts him among the top in the world this year that includes Florent Manaudou (21.55) and Nathan Adrian (21.70). Reynard Wessels (22.79) and Leith Shankland (22.90) finished second and third in the event.
Absent South African breaststroke star Cameron van der Burgh, who is in Norway at a meet to honor Alexander Dale Oen's memory, Ayrton Sweeney won the men's 200-meter breast in 2:18.09. Jarred Crous (2:19.21) and Luke Isemonger (2:21.15) placed second and third.
Michelle Weber raced to victory in the women's 1500-meter freestyle with a winning time of 17:02.64, while Roxanne Tammadge touched second in 17:04.51. Caitlin Kat rounded out the top three with a time of 17:06.41. Vanessa Mohr came home with the women's 50-meter fly title in 27.32, while Jessica Ashley-Cooper picked up second-place honors in 27.50. Trudi Marnee completed the podium with a third-place 27.56.
Darren Murray topped the men's 200-meter back in 2:01.89, while Christopher Reid finished second in 2:02.33. Ricky Ellis raced to third in 2:02.97. Tara Nicholas cruised to victory in the women's 200-meter breast with a 2:32.90, while Marlies Ross took second in 2:34.31. Kelly Gunnell earned third-place honors with a 2:34.57.
In multi-class disability events, Yvonne Smith was listed first in the women's 200-meter IM SM14-15 division with a 2:48.05, while Tezna Abrahams was listed first in the women's 200-meter IM SM1-13 division with a 3:20.25. Craig Groenewald was listed first in the men's 200-meter IM SM14-15 with a 2:25.20, while Kevin Paul was listed first in the men's 200-meter IM SM1-13 with a 2:18.35.
Karin Prinsloo opened up the night session in 56.25 for the women's 100-meter free win, while Lehesta Kemp touched second in 57.46. Trudi Marnee earned another third-place honor today with a 57.82. Prinsloo doubled up with a 2:13.37 to win the women's 200-meter back, while Ashley-Cooper (2:15.24) and Nathania Van Niekerk placed third in 2:16.00.
Chad Le Clos followed with a blistering time of 51.79 in the men's 100-meter fly, clearing the FINA A cut on the way. That swim beat the likes of Jeremy Stravius' top-ranked time of 52.04 from the French Nationals earlier this month and Zhou Jiawei's 52.11 from Chinese Nationals. Ryan Coetzee finished second in 55.02, while Reynard Wessels took third in 55.10.
Myles Brown pushed the pace in a lonely race with a 15:28.20 in the men's 1500-meter free. Chad Ho took a distant second in 15:52.75, while Daniel Marais placed third in 16:07.52. Rene Warnes claimed the women's 400-meter IM title in 4:51.01. Jolandi Els placed second in 4:56.33, while Marlies Ross picked up third in 4:56.51. Michael Meyer pocketed the men's 400-meter IM triumph in 4:19.36. Ayrton Sweeney (4:23.39) and Chris Reid (4:30.74) rounded out the top three in the timed final event.
In the evening multi-disability events, Challis Wright was listed first in the men's 50-meter free S14-15 with a 26.61, while Charl Bouwer was listed first in the men's 50-meter free S1-13 division races with a 24.28. Yvonne Smith was listed first in the women's 50-meter free S14-15 with a 31.49, while Shireen Sapiro was listed first in the women's 50-meter free S1-13 with a 31.62.
Wright doubled up with a 32.22 in the men's 50-meter back S14-15, while James Bezuidenhout was listed first in the men's 50-meter back S1-13. Yvonne Smith was listed first for a second time this evening with a 39.03 in the women's 50-meter back S14-15, while Sapiro posted a 35.09 to be listed first in the women's 50-meter back S1-13.