Retief shatters swimming records in Maritzburg

Petite Lize-Marie Retief (20) of Pretoria again rose to the occasion on the fourth and last day of finals at the Telkom South African National Short-Course Championships in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday, shattering the African and South African record for the women’s 100m butterfly.

“Igor [Omeltchencko], my coach, told me to go out hard right from the start,” said the swimmer from the Jacaranda City. “He also told me it was going to hurt, and I just let it hurt! Mandy [Loots] and I were pushing each other all the way and I only got away from her in the last stretch.”

Her time of 57.53 seconds slashed 0,88 seconds off her overnight record of 58,41 set on Monday evening’s semifinal, which in turn had broken Loots’s record of 58,42 set last year at the Berlin World Cup.

She is now ranked second in the world in this event behind Australian Felicity Galvez with 57,45.

Retief also won the 50m fly on Monday evening, just missing out by one-100th of a second on the African and national record of 26,03 seconds she had set also in a semifinal on Sunday.
She said that breaking those records had been a big motivating factor for her.

“That and the fact that I have been out of the pool for a while with an illness. I just wanted to do something really meaningful, and now I can’t wait for the World Cup in Durban later this month.”

South Africa team captain, Gerhard Zandberg, also from Pretoria, swam a personal best 48,43 seconds in the men’s 100m freestyle final, a performance that gave him his seventh gold medal of these championships. His previous best was 49,07 in Italy in a Grand Prix meeting last year.

Of all the races he won in the past four days, he rated the 100m individual medley as his best. In all he reckoned he lined up at the start 30 times to qualify for those seven finals, but said he was feeling good, strong and in fine form.

“I’ll be tapering for the World Cup series,” said the 24-year-old, who expects to swim in the Moscow, Germany and Sweden legs after the Durban opener.

Also in record-breaking mode for the second time at these championships was disabled swimmer Craig Groenewald, whose 2:22,39 for the 200m individual medley was a new world best in his SM14 category.

Top female gold medallist was Durban’s Melissa Corfe of Mr Price Seagulls, who added four more to her growing collection, winning the 200m freestyle in a short-course personal best of 1:59,10.

Corfe also managed a second to the Cape’s Jessica Pengelly in the 200m backstroke, which gave Pengelly her third gold in 2:10,78.

Suzaan van Biljon won the 100m breaststroke in 1:08,53 to bring her total also to three golds, beating Courtnay Mower (KwaZulu-Natal, 1:10.64).

DHS swim captain Wesley Gilchrist added the men’s 200m individual medley title to his 800m freestyle win on Sunday, while two other KwaZulu-Natal swimmers, Rohan Jacobs and Charl van Zyl, placed first and second in the 100m backstroke with respective times of 55,45 and 55,64 seconds in a close finish.—Sapa

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