Riaan Schoeman came out tops in the Battle of Durban as he saw off the challenge of Westville Boys High sensation Chad le Clos in their 400m individual medley showdown on the final night of the Telkom SA┬áNational Aquatics Championships at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre.
In taking aim at Oussama Mellouli’s African record at 4min 13.47sec,┬áSchoeman clocked 4:12.07, to join Le Clos (second in the final in 4:16.55) in dipping under the qualifying mark of 4:17.73 for the FINA World Championships to be held in Rome in July.
ÔÇ£I felt good going into the race and my backstroke swimming has really come along nicely over the past few months, which has helped my performances in the medley,ÔÇØ said Schoeman, who just missed out on qualifying for the Rome showpiece in the 200m backstroke, in posting 2:00.10 (with the required mark being 1:59.85) on the second night of the championships.
ÔÇ£I knew Chad (le Clos) would be really fast in the medley final, knowing┬áthat he qualified for the World Championships (in 4:17.62) in the morning. I really felt good out there.ÔÇØ
Having broken the world record in the 50m breaststroke semi-finals in 27.06 the night before, Cameron van der Burgh, had little trouble in winning the final of the discipline in 27.30 well inside the World Championship A qualifying time of 28.04.
Other SA swimmers to post World Championship A qualifying times on the last night of the championships were Roland Schoeman (23.15) and Graeme Moore (23.67) both in the 50m butterfly final and Jessica Pengelly (4:42.05 in the women’s 400m individual medley).
Nineteen SA swimmers posted World Championship A standard qualifying┬áperformances at the six-day championships in Durban.
Eastern Province’s Kevin Paul recorded his second world record within a day, as he clocked 31.16 in the 50m breaststroke (SB9 classification).
Earlier in the day he clocked 31.51 to better his previous world mark of┬á32.09 set in Port Elizabeth earlier this month.
The upset of the evening came in the 100m backstroke final, where Durban matric pupil Charl van Zyl (55.25) who has qualified for Rome in the 50m backstroke, pipped Olympic star George du Rand (55.38) for the national title. Du Rand qualified for the World Championships with a time of 54.72 in the semi-finals.