DURBAN - A disappointing crowd turned out to witness some exciting racing on the fourth and final evening of the "Telkom" South African National Aquatics Championships that were held at the Kings Park Aquatic Centre over the past week.
The mens 200m Individual Medly provided the first Continental record of the evening with Terrance Parkin (KZN) and Theo Vester (KZN) matching each other stroke for stroke. Vester the "fly" specialist, held a slight advantage after the first turn (.57sec). He increased this marginally during the backstroke leg(1.05), knowing full well that Parkin, a world class breaststoker would make his move on this the penultimate leg of this race. How right he was, with only .04 separating the two as they came off the final turn. It was however a determined Vester that held on to edge out Parkin into second spot by .18 sec. Both Vester, 2:03.34 and Parkin, 2:03.52 eclipsing Vesters' Continental mark of 2:03.68 established at the 1998 Comonwealth Games held in Malaysia. Adrian Bosch (CGA), 2:10.26 finished a distant third.
The splits for this item were as follows.
The womans event saw the versitile Mandy Loots(CGA), 2:19.25 win her fourth title of the Championships when she took it out hard to lead from the start and hold of a "dogged" challenge from a fast finishing Kirsty Coventry (Zim), 2:20.50 and Penny Heyns(KZN), 2:20.90.
This victory was to later ensure that she was awarded the trophy for "The Best Female Swimmer of the Championships". A credit to her coach, Dean Price and Mandys' dedication and commitment after the disappointment of being "left at home" after qualifing for the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Kim van Selm (KZN), 8:59.64 won her third title of the Championships when she won the Ladies 800m Freestyle comfortably from Bronwyn Dedekind (KZN), 9:07.80 and Donna Lesslie (KZN), 9:10.59, in a race which saw her take control from the 400m mark.
Ryk Neethling (FS), 15:40.34, predictably won his fourth title of the Championships when he won the mens 1500m Freestyle comfortably from fellow Free State team mates Dennis Sirringhaus, 15:58.24 and Ryno Maarkgraaf, 16:02.04, thereby becomming the first South African to hold four Freestyle titles won simualtaniously at a single Championship.
This achievment saw the likeable Neethling take the trophy for "The Best Male Swimmer of the Championships" at the prize giving later that evening.
The best however was still to come and it was saved for the last events of the evening. After winning his heat comfortably in the semi finals(23.42) earlier in the evening, Brendan Dedekind(KZN), 22.22 was "out of the blocks like lightning" and shaved ,28 seconds off former world record holder Peter Williams' seven year domestic record(22.50) and .03 off Egyptian, Tamar Zinholms' continental record(22.25). Nickolas Folker (KZN), 22.51 and Greg Main Ballie (KZN), 23.28 followed ,in what was without a doubt, the most exciting race of the Championships. Dedekinds' time was the fastest in the world for the current season, marginally behind Brazilian, Fernado Shererers' 1998 best of 22.18.
The womans event saw Christine Cech (KZN), 26.35 cause an upset when she won convincingly from fellow Kwa Zulu Natal teammates Charlene Whittstock, 26.51 and Stacey Bowley, 26.70 after leading from the start.
The mens 200m Freestyle relay saw Central Gauteng Aquatics "A", 1.34.15 take the gold medal comfortably from Western Province "A", 1.36.28 and Central Gauteng Aquatic "B", 1.36.78 after Kwa Zulu Natal were disqualified.
The ladies event saw Kwa Zulu Natal "A", 1:46.69 once again dominate and win comfortably from Central gauteng aquatics "A", 1:49.71 and Northern Tigers Swimming "A", 1:50.36.
After completion of the Championships a squad to participate at the forthcomming Pan Paciffic Games was announced. The squad comprises of 15 ladies and 14 men and includes three "developement" swimmers from previously disadvantaged communities. The following qualified for selection : Ladies. Christine Cech, Candice Crafford, Renate Du Plessis, Natalie Du Toit, Penny Heyns, Ziada Jardine, Mandy Loots, Tanya Naude, Candice Nethercott, Sarah Poewe, Julia Russell, Kirsten van Heerden, Kim van Selm, Charleen Whittstock, Stacey Bowley. Men. Brendon Dedekind, Nickolas Folker, Martin Fredricks, Ryan Kelly, Herman Louw, Ryk Neethling, Raaizik Nordien, Greg Owen, Terrance Parkin, Brett Peterson, Christopher Stewart, Theo Vester, Simon Thirsk, Greg Main - Ballie.