Three-time Olympian and gold medallist from the 2004 Games in Athens, Roland Schoeman, added another medal to a glittering CV with bronze in the men’s 50m butterfly at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, California.
The Pan Pacs is a championship widely considered to the third toughest behind the Olympics and the World Championships, mainly as it involves the two traditional strongest nations in the pool, the United States and Australia.
Schoeman climbed out of the water after the 50m butterfly final a happy man. ÔÇ£I’m unshaved, unrested and seven weeks away of my major meet (the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October). I’ll take that result. It’s never easy racing guys at their major meet of the year,ÔÇØ he said.
Elsewhere in the pool on the opening day of competition, South Africa’s finalist in the 2008 Olympic men’s freestyle, Jean Basson, also reached the ‘A’ final last night, where he placed sixth in 1min 47.43sec, improving on his morning heats swim by 0.37sec. The event was won by Ryan Lochte. The American stamped his authority down with a dominant, world-leading 1:45.30 victory over Olympic silver medallist Tae Hwan Park, of South Korea, on 1:46.27.┬á
Schoeman had qualified for the evening’s final in the 50m butterfly second fastest from the morning’s heats with a 23.41 performance. The Australian Geoff Huegill, a world champion from 2001 and now on the comeback trail, had been quickest in the heats, but in the final Schoeman pulled one over his rival, nudging him out of the bronze medal. The gold medal went to the Brazilian Cesar Cielo, in a Pan Pacs record of 23.03, with his countryman Nicholas Santos second in 23.06, Schoeman was credited with 23.39.
Cielo, whose best distance is the 50m freestyle, said: ÔÇ£I’m not really a 50-meter butterflyer, but everything that’s a 50 I find a way to go fast and tonight I found a way to go really fast. It was a wonderful surprise.ÔÇØ
Schoeman’s best for the event is 22.99, set in July 2005, and which remains a world record for a textile swim suit; the mark was subsequently broken last year when the controversial swimsuit war led to an avalanche of new world bests.
Basson might have been sixth in the men’s 200m freestyle final, but ahead of him were two Americans and a South Korean, who he won’t have to face should he be added to Team South Africa for the Commonwealth Games. While Lochte was out on his own, hitting the wall in 1:45.30, just 0.20 seconds separated fourth, fifth and sixth.