Gerhard Zandberg’s African record-breaking performance in the 100m backstroke, plus speedy times set by Cameron van der Burgh and Jessica Pengelly, gave the South African team much to cheer about on the opening morning of the Fina World Short-Course Swimming Championships on Thursday.
Zandberg booked his place in the semifinals of the 100m backstroke by clocking 52,48 seconds in the heats, to eclipse his South African record and George du Rand’s previous continental mark, both at 53 secs.
But it was the way that the South African team captain went about his swim that showed levels of sports professionalism and positive thinking.
Short-course swimming is not quite as conducive as the longer Olympic version to an athlete as tall as Zandberg, but there were no moans or groans as he delivered the goods. Judging by the high international standards set in Manchester so far, the Pretoria-based swimmer will have to dip under the 52 sec mark if he is to have a chance of a place in the final.
Somerset West-based Pengelly powered her way to a place in the 400m individual medley final by producing the sixth fastest time of 4:36,76 in the heats, just falling outside of Kathryn Meaklim’s national record of 4:36,62 set in October last year.
Meaklim clocked 4:38,64 to end as the second reserve for Wednesday night’s final.
Van der Burgh showed that he has the skill, power and confidence that is needed to take on the world’s short-course swim stars as he pencilled his name into the starting lists for the 100m breaststroke semifinals with a time of 59,26 in the heats.
South Africa’s World Short-Course Championship silver medallist Suzaan van Biljon posted 31,82 in the heats of the 50m breaststroke and qualified for the semifinals, but has opted to withdraw from the event in order to focus on the 100m breaststroke race.
William Diering (100m breaststroke), Sebastien Rousseau (100m butterfly), Mandy Loots (200m butterfly), Wesley Gilchrist (200m freestyle), George du Rand (200m freestyle and 100m backstroke), Chanelle van Wyk (100m backstroke), Melissa Corfe (100m backstroke) and Garth Tune (100m butterfly) were eliminated in the heats session. — Sapa