The Olympic spirit continued in Pietermaritzburg on as the SA National Short Course Championship kicked off in true Mzansi style on Thursday with six A Qualification Times for the FINA World Championships in Turkey in December.
Double Olympic medalist Chad le Clos was first in the water in the 200-metre freestyle, winning the race in a time of 1min 45.08sec ahead of fellow Olympians Darian Townsend in 1:45.38 and Leith Shankland 1:47.26. Both Le Clos and Townsend dipping under the A Qualification Time of 1:46.59.
Veteran Roland Scheman came out tops in the 50m butterfly, clocking a fast 22.80 to Le Clos’ 23.81, both racing to A Qualification times. Nico Meyer took the bronze in 24.06.
Darren Murray became the fourth men to race to an A Qualification Time in the 100m backstroke, speeding to the gold medal in 52:84. Neil de Villiers and Garth Tune rounded off the medal podium in 54.46 and 54.56 respectively.
In the 400m individual medley, Michael Meyer won the gold in 4:16.09 followed by Dean Myhill in 4:29.31 and Juandre Wiggill in 4:31.35 while the 200m breaststroke title went to Neil Versfeld in 2:13.56 with Kyle Duckitt in second (2:14.82) and Terence Parkin in third (2:16.01).
The women also did not disappoint as Jessica Pengelly took the 400m individual medley event by storm, winning in a time of 4:35.95 while Kathryn Meaklim (4:39.10) and Rene Warnes (4:45.36) claimed the silver and bronze. Pengelly and Meaklim both scored A Qualification Times.
The 200m butterfly belonged to veteran Mandy Loots, who touched the wall in a fast 2:11.79 ahead of Kyna Pereira in 2:17.53 and Megan Stephens in 2:21.55
The men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay was won by KZN in 3:19.07 followed by both TUKS teams in 3:19.08 and 3:25.88 while the ladies 4 x 50m freestyle relay title went to TUKS in 1:46.57 ahead of Western Province in 1:48.78 and TUKS B team in 1:51.05.
In the multi-disability races, it was gold and silver for Tenza Abrahams and Alani Ferreira in the 50m breaststroke (S1-13) while in the S13 and 14 category medals went to Christelle Kriel, Cornelia Fowler and Anne Swart. Kriel bagged her second and third gold of the evening in the 50m backstroke and 100m individual medley with Ferreira taking first place in the S1-13 50m backstroke race.
Later on in the evening, Abrahams also claimed her second gold in the 100m individual medley.
On the men’s side, Tadgh Slattery, heading for his sixth Paralympic Games in London next week, won the 50m breaststroke (S5) with the gold in the S14 category going to Craig Groenewald. James Bezuidenhout won the 50m backstroke (S1-13) while Martyn Groenewald claimed top spot in the S13-14 event. Craig and James were once again on top in the 100m individual medley to end of the evening on a high note.
The SA Short Course Championships will continue on Friday.
FINA World Short Course Championships Qualification Times following day one:
Chad le Clos ÔÇô 200m freestyle, 50m butterfly
Darian Townsend ÔÇô 200m freestyle
Jessica Pengelly ÔÇô 400m individual medley
Kathryn Meaklim ÔÇô 400m individual medley ÔÇ¿Darren Murray ÔÇô 100m backstroke
Roland Schoeman ÔÇô 50m butterfly