EAST LONDON, South Africa, March 6. PORT Elizabeth's teenage swim sensation Jessica Liss declared her biggest weakness, but not before bagging gold in the 50 meter breaststroke, 200 meter butterfly and 200 meter freestyle finals in the girls 12 years category on the second day of the Telkom SA National Level 3 Swimming Championships at the Joan Harrison Swimming Pool.
"Shopping," quipped Liss, a 12-year-old Grade 7 pupil at St Georges Prep where her father Jonathan Liss is headmaster, when questioned on how she keeps herself busy when she is not competing or in the training pool. "I love shopping and hang out in the Walmer area of Port Elizabeth with my friends. But I put in three hours of training each day, so there is not always that much time to visit the malls."
While Liss claimed the 50 meter breaststroke (34.18), the 200 meter butterfly (2:22.32) and the 200 meter freestyle in 2:12.77, she did not hide her ambitions of posting an Olympic A qualifying time at the Telkom SA National Swimming Championships in Durban from April 1-6.
Liss currently heads the SA senior 200 meter breaststroke rankings with a season best of 2:29.77 and needs to dip under the 2:28.21 mark in order to give the national selectors much to think about before the provisional list of SA swimmers to compete at the Beijing Olympics is drawn up.
"I have completed my hard training and am busy breaking down so I am swimming a bit quicker now as I prepare to taper in order to post some fast times at the national championships in Durban," said Liss.
But until about three months back, not even Liss thought that she would make the sort of impact on the local swimming scene that she has done.
"Don't ask me what happened," she said. "The times just started coming down, particularly in the 200 meters breaststroke. I am really looking forward to swimming in Durban in April to see how fast I really can go."
While Liss dominated proceedings, another Eastern Province swimmer in the form of Tasmynne Roe enjoyed her moment in the swimming limelight as she clocked 33.51 to break Claire Archibald's previous national 15 years record in the 50 meter breaststroke. Archibald's previous SA best stood at 33.56.
KwaZulu Natal swim star Wesley Gilchrist set the record straight in the 200 meter freestyle in the 17-18 years age group, winning in 1:53.64, with Central Gauteng's Jay-Cee Thomson next best in 1:54.69. Twenty-four hours earlier, Thomson pipped Gilchrist in a sprint finish to claim the honors in the 400 meter freestyle.
Special thanks to Swimming South Africa for contributing this report.