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Roland on the rise

Roland Schoeman proved why he is South Africa’s premier world-class swimmer when he posted his third World Championship A level qualifying performance in as many 50m freestyle starts, on the second night of the Telkom SA National Aquatics Championships at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre in Durban.

Schoeman’s gold medal-winning performance of 21.79c was faster than the 21.81 clocked in the semi-final and his heats time of 21.83 ÔÇô all well inside the required maximum of 22.33 needed to be shortlisted for a SA team place at the FINA World Championships in Rome in July.

ÔÇ£I have been using the same stroke that I used during the short-course┬áchampionships last year and have been training quite well under (coach) Igor (Omeltchenko) in Pretoria since January,ÔÇØ said Schoeman.

Lyndon Ferns, a team-mate of Schoeman in SA’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay gold-medal-winning at the 2004 Athens Olympics, also pencilled his name into the SA provisional squad for the World Championships, in finishing second in the 50m freestyle final in 22.27.

Arizona-based Jean Basson posted a World Championship qualifier of 1:46.62 in the 200m freestyle semi-final, having qualified for Rome in the 400m freestyle (3:48.58) on the opening night of the championships. Basson will be joined on the SA team shortlist for the 200m freestyle by KwaZulu-Natal’s Jasper Venter who clocked 1:48.29.

Pretoria’s Cameron van der Burgh also went faster than his opening night World Championship qualifier time of 1:00.28, by clocking 1:00.02 to win gold in the 100m breaststroke.

On the backstroke scene, George du Rand also made his intentions for a SA team place clear by posting a qualifying time of 1:59.85 in the 200m

backstroke, with Zimbabwe’s Olympic star Kirsty Coventry also qualifying for the world showpiece in Rome in the 200m backstroke in 2:08.32 ÔÇô faster than the opening day’s effort of 2:10.38.

Rising teenager Jessica Pengelly finished second in the event, which netted her the South African title in the process, and showed why she’s one to watch on the Road To London.

Capetonian Sebastien Rousseau stole the show on the opening night in┬ábettering his African record in a World Championship qualifying time of┬á1:55.51 in the 200 metres butterfly semi-final, and while he took gold in┬áthe final in 1:55.56 ahead of KwaZulu Natal’s 17-year-old sensation Chad le Clos (1:57.57), his effort was again inside the World Championship A standard qualifying time of 1:57.14.