SA swimmers advance at world champs

Gerhard Zandberg kept South Africa’s fast-lane medal hunt on course with his 50m backstroke heats effort, coupled with fine performances by Melissa Corfe, Suzaan van Biljon and William Diering, at the Fina World Short-Course Swimming Championships in Manchester on Friday.

Zandberg, who has also qualified for the 50m freestyle final, clocked 24,16 seconds to advance to the semifinal stage of the 50m backstroke, while fellow Pretoria-based swimmer William Diering took full advantage of his turn on the starting blocks as he clocked 2:09,29 in the 200m breaststroke to qualify for the final.

Earlier in the week, Suzaan van Biljon had qualified for the 50m breaststroke semifinals but opted to withdraw in order to rest a niggling knee problem. The strategic move seemed to pay off as she cruised into the semifinals of the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:07,12 in the heats.

Following her outstanding performances at the Telkom South African National Aquatic Championships last week, Durbanite Melissa Corfe ensured her place in the final of the 400m freestyle with a qualifying time of 4:05,09.

Van Biljon and Corfe returned to the water as part of South Africa’s 4x100m individual medley relay team, along with Mandy Loots and Lize-Mari Retief, to clock 4:03,62 — the sixth-fastest time in the heats, which earned them a place in the final.

”Now the championships have really started for the South African team,” said upbeat Swimming SA head coach Dirk Lange. ”Cameron van der Burgh’s silver medal in the 100m breaststroke last night has further motivated the swimmers, and we are set for an exciting climax to the event from a South African perspective.”

The South African swimmers who were unfortunate not to progress beyond the heats were Riaan Schoeman and Heerden Herman (400m freestyle), Wesley Gilchrist and Sebastien Rousseau (200m individual medley), Jessica Pengelly (200m backstroke), Kathryn Meaklim (400m freestyle), Garth Tune (50m backstroke and 50m butterfly), Thabang Moeketsane (200m breaststroke) and Corfe (200m backstroke). — Sapa

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