By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
It was a different day but the same story for Team South Africa’s swimmers at the African Games here on Tuesday.
The powerful team won more than 10 medals for the second day running to take the team’s medal tally past the 50 mark.
Seven events were held at the Complexe Nautique and when the evening was done SA swimmers had banked seven gold, two silver and four bronze medals for a total of 13 medals, their best haul of the Games so far.
After Olympian Karin Prinsloo had got the evening off to a good start with gold in the 400m freestyle (4:18.86) it was up to Clayton Jimmie who won the first men’s gold when he won the 100 freestyle.
Like Chad le Clos and Chad Ho, Jimmie is a Westville Boys High product and clocked 49.93 to just pip Mohamed Samy of Egypt by 0.04sec.
‘It wasn’t a personal best but just 0.01sec off,’ said the Graham Hill-coached Durbanite.
‘My PB came in South Korea earlier this year in the World Student Games. the pool felt very fast and I’m happy.’
Twenty-year-old Jimmie is swimming four events at these Games before heading back home to Sherwood, Durban to continue with his B. Com law course at Varsity College.
There was a break for SA celebrations as Zimbabwean Olympian Kirsty Coventry won the 100 back in 1.01.15 from Prinsloo (1.02.53) and Cape Town’s Jessica Ashley-Cooper took bronze in 1:03.32.
But it was soon back to business as Martin Binedell won the 200 back in 2:02.23 from teammate Ricky Ellis (2:02.32).
Pretoria’s Tatjana Schoenmaker won the women’s second gold of the evening for SA in the 50m breaststroke in 32.49.
Then it was Le Clos’s turn to take to the water and there was more gold as he won the 50m backstroke in 23.51 with Alard Basson bagging bronze in 24.97. Le Clos’ time was also a Championship record, bettering Kenyan Jason Dunford’s 23.57 in Maputo, Mozambique four years ago.
That left just the relays on the evening’s programme and it was once again an all South African affair.
The women’s 4x100m relay saw Marlies Ross, Ashley-Cooper, Vanessa Mohr and Prinsloo in action. And although Egypt had a slight lead after the first leg, the next two girls put SA into the lead and it was left to Prinsloo to finish things when she touched in 3:49.04.
That was another Championship record for SA, bettering the time of 3:52.74 set by the SA quartet in Abuja, Nigeria back in 2003.
Final event of the evening was the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay and like the girls’ race, the Egyptians got off to a good start and when Brent Szurdoki touched SA were lying third. But Jimmie and Myles Brown then combined to give Le Clos a slight lead going into the final two laps.
Him and his Egyptian opponent were pretty much all square till the final turn and coach Hill then turned to the team and said: ‘Watch this turn!’
And so it proved to be as Le Clos surfaced what looked close to a metre ahead of his rival and powered away to win in 3:49.04, with Egypt well beaten in 3:50.80.
Other SA medallists on the night were: Ross (3rd, 400m free, 4:19.43) and Clayton Muller (3rd, 100 free, 50.28).
Picture of Le Clos and Myles Brown in the warm-down pool, courtesy of Sandhya Silal