Beijing Olympians Neil Versfeld and Jean Basson did South African swimming proud with stand-out performances at the prestigious NCAA Championships in the United States.
Versfeld cleaned up in the men’s 200 yards breaststroke, breaking Brendan Hansen’s United States Open record of 1min 51.74sec set three years ago. Considering that Hansen is a double Olympic gold medallist from 2004 and 2008 and that he is a multiple World Championships winner, Versfeld has gatecrashed the world scene.
In Beijing he experienced his first Olympiad but his 1:51.40, set while swimming for the University of Georgia, shows that he belongs in the top echelon. Suddenly, South Africa looks blessed with talent in men’s breaststroke swimming, with Cameron van der Burgh the planet’s leader in the shorter events of the discipline.
Basson, who showed up so prominently in the final of the men’s 400m freestyle at the Beijing Games, where he signalled he will be a live medal candidate in London 2012, again caught the eye with a fourth-place finish in the final of the men’s 200m. Competing for the University of Arizona, the South African touched the wall in 1:32.77, a creditable effort in a fast race.
The NCAA’s are the blue riband competition of the United States collegiate system.