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Ready for Rome plunge

The heat is on in Rome and solid performances by Roland Schoeman, Cameron van der Burgh and Wendy Trott could get the SA challenge off to a positive start, when the swimming competition of the FINA World Championships begins in Rome on Sunday.

Schoeman, who recently spent some time training in Marseilles alongside

Spanish world 50m butterfly record-holder Rafael Munoz (22.43 secs), will be a part of the 50m butterfly action along with California-based national team-mate Graeme Moore.

Ranked fifth in the world with a time of 23.15 secs, 50m of Schoeman brilliance could well set the trail towards success for the South Africans, with national team doctor Demitri Constantinou having cautioned the SA swimmers to stay out of the sun and in the team’s air conditioned hotel when they are not racing.

“The heat is really energy-sapping and we have also decided to withdraw

Lyndon Ferns from the 50m freestyle heats as a precautionary measure in order for him to focus on the 100m butterfly event, because if he raced both disciplines and relays, he would have ended up in about 13 races in these baking hot conditions at poolside,” said national team coach Dean Price.

Van der Burgh goes into the 100m breaststroke heats with a time of 1:00.02 that sees him occupy eighth spot on the world rankings.

Trott, ranked fifth in the world in the 1500m, will line up in the 400m freestyle, with other SA swimmers in action tomorrow being Jean

Basson (400m freestyle), Kathryn Meaklim and Jessica Pengelly (200m individual medley), and Thabang Moeketsane (100m breaststroke).

The SA men’s 4 x 100m freestyle quartet of Darian Townsend, Schoeman, Ferns and Moore, will line up for action in the heats in the morning session.

“After the morning session on Monday, Darren Murray (backstroke) and Neil Versfeld (breaststroke) will undergo time trials to see which swimmers will be included in the SA 4 x 100m medley team,” said Price.

From a breaststroke perspective, the SA coaches have a choice between

Murray, Charl van Zyl and George du Rand, while the breaststroke leg of the relay will be swam by one of Versfeld, van der Burgh or Moeketsane.

The freestyle leg of the relay will be covered by either Schoeman or Ferns, with one of Ferns or Townsend set to complete the butterfly distance.

On the water polo front, the SA women’s side lost 16-2 to Brazil.