CAPE TOWN, South Africa, February 23. WESTERN Province teenage swim sensation Jessica Pengelly battled to contain her surprise, after smashing her national 400 meter individual medley record in front of a vocal crowd at the Samsung Swimming Grand Prix series at the University of the Western Cape.
Competing in the race dubbed as the ‘Battle of the Jessica's', which included 12-year-old Port Elizabeth rising star Jessica Liss, Pengelly took the honors in 4:41.94, to eclipse her previous national mark of 4:43.76.
KwaZulu Natal's Kathryn Meaklim finished second in 4:45.41 with Liss third in 4:53.77.
"I can't believe it, it's just mind-boggling," said Pengelly. "I never tapered for this gala as I have been focusing my training on posting an Olympic A qualifying time at the national championships in Durban in April and I cannot believe this time that I achieved here today. I took a rest from my training program on Friday. Maybe it helped me today. I am just over the moon with the time, because it motivates me to go even faster when I plan on peaking in April."
Liss meanwhile returned to the water to take the 100 meter breaststroke, and showed just why she is rated as one of the most talented swimmers in the country at her young age, as she won the event in 1:11.66. KwaZulu Natal swimmers in Courtnay Mower and Meaklim, finished second and third in 1:13.20 and 1:13.63 respectively.
Following the morning withdrawal from the gala of Pretoria-based Cameron van der Burgh due to a groin strain, William Diering stole the show in taking the 100 meter breaststroke win in 1:05.11, with Soweto swim star Thabang Moeketsane (1:05.53) next best.
Stellenbosch-based Heerden Herman showed glimpses of why he is hailed as another member of the new class of 2008 athletes that will take the country's swimming to a new dimension, as he took the 400 meter freestyle in 3:59.62.
KwaZulu Natals Riaan Schoeman continued to impress in winning the 400 meter individual medley in 4:19.30, with provincial team-mate Wesley Gilchrist taking the 200 meter freestyle in 1:54.24.
Special thanks to Swimming South Africa for contributing this report.