South African Swimming Championships 

2000 - Durban

SA elite miss swimming world records

9 April 2000

Theo Verster

Theo Verster

South Africa's swimming elite missed out on world record attempts on Sunday while freestyle stars Ryk Neethling and Helene Muller closed the Telkom national championships with more fine performances.

Neethling bagged his fourth gold of the gala when he won the 1 500m event for a clean sweep of all the men's races from 100m and Muller cracked her sixth national mark of the week in Durban's Kings Park pool.

In specially organised time trials, Penny Heyns missed her own world 50m breaststroke record and the men's 4x50m freestyle relay team - which includes the world's two fastest sprinters in Brendon Dedekind and Roland Schoeman - were disqualified.

Theo Verster at least succeeded in the individual races against the clock as he broke his own continental mark in the 100m butterfly to finally earn a qualifying time for the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.

Neethling swam his fifth-best 1 500m - and the quickest ever on home soil - with a time of 15min 15,27 seconds.

Theo Verster at least succeeded in the individual races against the clock as he broke his own continental mark in the 100m butterfly to finally earn a qualifying time for the Olympic Games in Sydney in September.

"I wanted to hurt good, and that hurt pretty good," said the psychology student at the University of Arizona, ranked second in the world in the mile.

"It was a good meet, I'm so happy," added Neethling, also the Africa record-holder in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 1 500m.

Muller won the women's 50m freestyle in 25,94, one-hundredth of a second inside Marianne Kriel's eight-year-old mark - although she was just outside Egyptian Rania Elwani's 25,90 Africa record.

She hammered five continental marks in the 100m and 200m freestyle during the week.

Double Olympic champion Heyns used the Fastskin suit for the first time in competition.

"I just did it to test the suit," said the 14-time world record-holder, who clocked 31,16, short of her 30,83. "I don't think the legs with the breaststroke feels that good.

"If I'd swum that in a regular suit, I think it would have been a bit better, but I don't think it would have been a world record."

Dedekind, Nicholas Folker, Schoeman and Herman Louw were disqualified after an over-ambitious start by Louw, swimming the final fourth leg.

Although the disqualification by officials appeared disputable, the our would not have beaten the unofficial 1:29,16 mark set by the United States in 1987.

They finished in 1:29,23 with Dedekind - who retained the South African 50m freestyle title in a time of 22,13 on Saturday night - registering a slow 22,89 on the first leg.

Schoeman, the top-ranked sprinter in the world, scorched an incredible 21,55 which would translate to 22,05 in a regular race - one-hundredth of a second outside his 22,04 Africa record.

Folker swam 21,96 (22,46) and Louw 22,83 (23,33).

An ecstatic Verster, who pumped his hands into the air on seeing his 53,77, said he was relieved to have achieved an Olympic qualifying criterion.

"I left it a little late in the competition. It's not very nice to swim alone," said the Durban-based professional swimmer, who managed an Olympic standard at the Pan Pacific championships last year.

"Getting the time here carries more weight (Olympic with team selection), they want to see us improving."

KwaZulu-Natal A won the men's and women's 4x100m medley relays.

Olympic selection a triumph for wisdom

9 April 2000

Swimming South Africa (SSA) selectors, take a bow. All of you. In presenting 13 names to Nocsa for approval for the Sydney Olympics, they rewarded both performances at the Telkom Nationals, which ended at King's Park on Sunday, and showed healthy vision.

Eight men and five women were named to represent South Africa at Mare Nostrum 2000 (a Grand Prix meet in Europe) and then go on to Sydney, while another five swimmers were given the carrot of being able to travel with them and, providing they meet the Fina 'A' qualifying time, they would be considered for the Olympics as well.

SSA resisted the temptation to include Raazik Nordien as a development swimmer at Sydney, but he is one of the five who will travel to Mare Nostrum.

Nordien, a 17-year-old from Western Province, had become the first swimmer of colour to win a senior medal at the Nationals, but missed out on an Olympic qualifying time.

However, poolside word banter on Sunday was that the teenager was too good a prospect to spoil by denting his confidence at an important event as the Games.

All 12 swimmers who produced Olympic qualifying times at King's Park were named in the provisional squad, along with backstroker Simon Thirsk, who didn't but who could form an integral part of any 400m medley relay team South African may enter in Sydney.

Penny Heyns, Mandy Loots, Helene Muller, Sarah Poewe and Charlene Wittstock can all start making their travel plans for the Olympic fortnight (September 15 to October 1), as can Brendon Dedekind, Ryk Neethling, Nick Folker, Terence Parkin, Brett Petersen, Roland Schoeman, Simon Thirsk and Theo Verster, who was a hugely relieved man after qualifying in a specially arranged 100m butterfly time trial on Sunday.

In addition to the names of the swimmers put forward for Olympic consideration - Nocsa's executive have the final say - two divers were nominated: Jane Woodard and Tandi Gerrard, both of whom will be requested to compete in selected Grand Prix meets.

Apart from those earmarked - barring accidents, injury or temporary insanity by the Nocsa panel, they will go to the Games - Renate du Plessis, Julia Russell, Ryan Kelly, Raazik Nordien and Greg Owen are still not completely out of the picture and have the incentive to qualify in Europe.

South Africa's men's 4x100m freestyle side is in with a real shout of a medal in Sydney, where Dedekind, Folker, Neethling and Schoeman will do all the hard work, while a 400m medley relay squad has been pencilled in for both the men and women.

In total, realistically, swimming can expect a healthy haul in Sydney. All of Neethling (200, 400 and 1 500m freestyle), Dedekind and Schoeman (50m freestyle), Parkin (200m breaststroke), Heyns and Poewe (100, 200m breaststroke) will have high expectations, which could up the tally to as high as 10.

Petersen, who lowered the men's 100m breaststroke record at Kings Park is another who can produce the goods on his day.

Parkin was officially named male swimmer of the meeting and Muller - who broke six South African freestyle records - the women's.

Wayne Riddin has predictably been named head coach for Sydney, with Gideon Sam travelling as the team manager.

Telkom South African Championships - Day 2 Report

13 April 2000

The second evening of the Telkom South African swimming championships played out in hot humid conditions before an encouraging crowd at the Kings Park pool in Durban on Saturday.

With only the men's 200m freestyle semi finals scheduled for the program, the evenings competition comprised entirely of finals. Some close and exciting races were witnessed by the vocal crowd.

Women's 50m Freestyle 
With Charlene Wittstock opting not to swim in the freestyle events and Chrissy Cech having not returned from the USA for this meet a number of new young faces appeared in their first senior national final.

Helene Muller (CGA) and Renate du Plessis (WP) were off the blocks in a flash. In the outside lanes Karen Lotter (NTS) in lane 7 lurked, while Melanie Greyling (KZN) in lane 1 surged. The 14-year-old Lauren Roets (NTS) shadowed her more illustrious competitors going into the last 15m and was in contention.

It was at this point that Muller seized the moment and claimed a comfortable victory in 26.12 ahead of du Plessis who went a 26.80. Greyling hung on to claim the bronze in 27.09, while the Northern Tigers duo of Lotter (27.11) and Roets (27.14) followed.

Muller said: "This race always freaks me out, it's such a prominent race and one to iron out all the bugs."

Men's 50m Freestyle 
What a scintillating affair. Olympian Ryk Neethling (KZN) was out in a flash and it was always going to be a battle for the minor placing. Neethling came out in front of the pack and never looked like he would settle for anything but the gold, which he claimed comfortably in a time of 23.02.

With ten meters to go the battle for the minor placing was on. Nick Folker (KZN), Gerhard Zandberg (NTS) and Lynden Ferns (NP) matched each other stroke for stroke as they surged toward the finish.

Folker got the touch ahead of his rivals when he recorded a 23.43. Zandberg claimed the bronze in 23.44 while Ferns faded to secure fourth in 23.65 ahead of Hendrick Odendaal (WP) (23.68).

Neethling said after the race that he was satisfied with his performance.

"I'm not really considered to be a sprinter, but I am working hard to become one. "There is no other swimmer in the world that competed at the Sydney Olympics that has come down to a 23-second swim in the 50m free."

"It's the second race I've had since Monte Carlo in June last year and I'm pretty happy with my performance.

"I've started a new job in the States and my training time has been restricted somewhat. I've been working on various aspects of my race and it's starting to come together.

Women's 100m Breaststroke
In what was always going to be a battle for the minor placing it was Sarah Poewe (WP) who seized the moment a claimed the title in convincing fashion in a time of 1:08.65 from her provincial team mates, Ingrid Haiden, Ziada Jardine and Natalie Burke.

While Poewe surged into the lead it was Burke who held the advantage going into the turn, but a fast finish saw Haiden (1:11.94) edge out Jardine (1:12.30) for the minor medals, while Burke had to be content with fourth in a time of 1:13.43.

Stalwart Tanya Hildebrand (CGA) claimed fifth place in 1:13.89 after a lay off of three years and is sure to become a serious challenger in the months that lay ahead.

It was the best performance on the second session of finals at the Telkom national swimming championships in Durban but Olympian Sarah Poewe was far from happy with her time in winning the women's 100m breaststroke in 1:08.65. The 19-year-old Capetonian was barely out of the water at the end of her race when she was shaking her head and saying: "Not good enough" in reference to the fast qualifying time of 1:08.02 for the July Commonwealth Games in Manchester. "Although this was my first long-course race of the year I had expected a faster time," she said.

Men's 100m Breaststroke 
So much was anticipated in this event, but unfortunately never materialised.

Brett Peterson (KZN) once again had an excellent start while Chris Stewart (CGA) was a man with a mission. Both former national champions had the crowd on its feet as they turn together and extended their lead over the field. The indomnible Terence Parkin (KZN) was always lurking while Louis Lotter the titleholder made his move in lane one.

With ten meters to go Kurt Muller (FS) was also in the picture with the crowd extremely vocal.

Peterson pulled out all the stops to claim the title in 1:02.20 with Stewart being rewarded with the silver in 1:02.79. Parkin powered his way to bronze in 1:03.35 with Lotter (1:04.49) edging out Muller (1:04.55)

Women's 200m Butterfly 
Mandy Loots (CGA) retained her title in comfortable fashion when she won effortlessly in a time of 2:15.94.

Once again it was her promising training partner, the diminutive Lisa-Marie Retief who secured her second consecutive silver at the senior nationals when she posted a fast finishing 2:19.29 ahead of Western Province's Lana Piemontesi who claimed bronze in 2:21.06.

Sarah English (KZN) did well to claim fourth place after a fast finish in a time of 2:22.57 while Belinda Wood (WP) dropped off the pace and had to settle for fifth in 2:23.90.

Loots however was not happy.

"I'm definitely not happy with my time at all," said the SA record holder who swam a 2:10.78 at the last Olympics. "It's really tough when you're trying flat out for a fast time and the next swimmer is so far behind you. "I just wish the selectors would be more supportive of us who are trying to make these fast qualifying times. "Every year we are expected to prove ourselves over and over again."

Men's 200m Butterfly 
National and Continental record holder Theo Verster (KZN) regained his title that he failed to defend at last year's Ellis Park meet when edged out title holder Raazik Nordien (WP) in the most exciting 200m butterfly event seen in South Africa for years.

The stalwart Verster held the advantage from the gun with Andrew Hogg (WP) sitting on his shoulder for the first 75m. Verster made a break going into the turn but Nordien hunted him down and with 50m to go an upset was on the cards.

Verster however dug deep and reclaimed his title in a time of 2:02.62 with Nordien posting a pb of 2:03.48. Hogg took the bronze in 2:06.32 ahead of Kenneth Smith (KZN) who for the fourth consecutive year had to settle for fourth place. Smith's time of 2:07.32 was his seasons.

The promising 16 year old Dustin Dale (CGA) had an excellent last 100m and claimed fifth place in 2:08.24.

A delighted Nordien had this to say after the race.

"This was my best time ever, and I went flat out to catch Theo, but, geez, he's fast!"

Men's 200m Freestyle semi-final 
Not much can be seen into tonight's 200m freestyle semi final with all swimmers that have finaled having swum very close races.

James Wilcox (WP) goes into tomorrow nights final as the top seed having posted a 1:55.39 in what was an close finish with Swiss national Dominik Meichtry (CGA) (1:55.41), Marius Momberg (WP) (1:55.50) and Brett Wood (WP) (1:55.85) in the second semi.

Sarel Lamprecht (FS) won the first semi in 1:56.08 after a close tussle with Stephan Ackermann (KZN) (1:56.26) and Rudolf Wagenaar (WP) (1:57.13).

Women's 200m Backstroke 
Charlene Wittstock (KZN) claimed victory in an exciting tussle with her promising club mate Melissa Corfe.

Wittstock had built up a significant lead at the halfway mark and the result was never in doubt, however Corfe had an awesome last 100m (1:09.54/1:10.54) and closed the gap significantly to claim the silver in a respectable 2:17.11.

Wittstock's winning time was 2:15.80 while Romy Altmann (WP) fell off the pace a tad to claim the bronze in 2:19.16.

Men's 200m Backstroke
In a clash of the "young guns" it was George du Rand (FS) who upset pre race favourite Gareth McGee (KZN) to claim the title.

Swimming from lane 1, du Rand was out in a flash and held a significant advantage after the first 100m when he turned on a 1:00.94 with McGee, Jeff Norton (KZN) and Carl Marais (NTS) playing catch up.

Norton surged but a determined du Rand held on to claim the title in 2:05.98. Norton had to settle for the silver in 2:06.06 a tad ahead of the fast finishing Marais who snatched the bronze in 2:06.08. McGee was disappointing in 2:06.72 and had to settle for fourth place.

All the swim medal winners


4 - (4 gold) Ryk Neethling (100, 200, 400, 1500m free)

4 - (3 gold, 1 silver) Terence Parkin (200m IM, 400IM, 200m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke)

2 - (2 silver) Mark Jollands (200, 400m free)

2 - (2 silver) Roland Schoeman (50, 100m freestyle)

2 - (1 silver, 1 bronze) Greg Owen (200m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke)

2 - (2 gold) Simon Thirsk (100, 200m back)

2 - (1 gold, 1 silver) Theo Verster (200m butterfly, 200m IM)

2 - (1 silver, 1 bronze) Adrian Bosch (400m IM, 200 IM)

2 - (2 bronze) Nick Folker (50, 100m freestyle)

1 - (1 gold) Brendon Dedekind (50m free)

1 - (1 gold) Brett Petersen (100m breaststroke)

1 - (1 gold) Ryan Kelly (100m butterfly)

1 - (1 silver) Greg Main-Baillie (100m back)

1 - (1 silver) Graham MacFarlane (200m fly)

1 - (1 silver) Derek Craven (100m fly)

1 - (1 silver) Dennis Siringhaus (1500m freestyle)

1 - (1 bronze) George du Rand (200m back)

1 - (1 bronze) Gareth McGee (200m back)

1 - (1 bronze) Brett Rogers (400m IM)

1 - (1 bronze) Henk Markgraaff (400m freestyle)

1 - (1 bronze) James Willcox (200m freestyle)

1 - (1 bronze) Gerhard Zandberg (100m back)

1 - (1 bronze) Raazik Nordien (200m butterfly)

1 - (1 bronze) Corne Prozesky (200m breast)

1 - (1 bronze) Henk Markgraaff (1500m freestyle)


3 - (3 gold) Helene Muller (50, 100m, 200 freestyle)

3 - (2 gold, 1 bronze) Mandy Loots (100, 200m butterfly, 200m backstroke)

3 - (2 gold, 1 bronze) Denali Knapp (100m, 200m backstroke, 50m freestyle)

3 - (1 gold, 1 silver) Kim van Selm (400, 800m freestyle, 200m freestyle)

3 - (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze) Natalie du Toit (400m ind medley, 200m ind medley, 800m freestyle)

3 - (2 silver, 1 bronze) Charlene Wittstock (100, 200m backstroke, 100m freestyle)

3 - (1 silver, 2 bronze) Julia Russell (100m butterfly, 100, 200m breaststroke)

2 - (2 gold) Penny Heyns (100, 200m breast)

2 - (1 gold, 1 bronze) Kirsty Coventry (200m ind medley, 100m backstroke)

2 - (2 silver) Sarah Poewe (100, 200m breast)

2 - (2 silver) Stacey Bowley (50, 100m freestyle)

2 - (1 silver, 1 bronze) Renate du Plessis (200m butterfly, 100m butterfly)

2 - (1 silver, 1 bronze) Kirsten van Heerden (400m free, 200m free)

2 - (2 bronze) Candice Crafford (200m ind medley, 200m butterfly)

1 - (1 silver) Candice Little (400m ind medley)

1 - (1 bronze) Marizanne Grundlingh (400m IM)

1 - (1 bronze) Desiree Martin (400m freestyle)

South African records

6 - Helene Muller (women's 50m freestyle 2,94, 100m freestyle relay, 55,96; 100m freestyle semis 55,94; final 55,82; 200m freestyle semis, 2:00,99, final 2:00,35)

3 - Terence Parkin (men's 400m ind medley 4:19,310; 200m breaststroke 2:13,57, 200m IM 2:01,95)

1 - Mandy Loots (women's 100m fly 1:00,71)

1 - Brett Petersen (men's 100m breast 1:01,62)

1 - Roland Schoeman (men's 100m freestyle, semis, 49,91)

1 - Ryk Neethling (men's 100m free, final, 49,71)

1 - KwaZulu-Natal 'A' (women's 4x200m freestyle, 8:31,71)

All-Africa Record (No SA Rec)

2 - Kim van Selm (women's 400, 800m free, 4:17.46, 8:51,57)

Olympic qualifying times

6 - Penny Heyns (women's 100m breaststroke, heats 1:07,84, semis 1:07,77, final 1:07,67; 200m breaststroke, heats 2:28,57, semis 2:27,01, final 2:26,14)

6 - Ryk Neethling (men's 100m freestyle, semis 49,93, final 49,71; 200m freestyle, semis 1:49,06, final 1:48,81; 400m freestyle, final, 3:48,74, 1500m 15:15,27)

6 - Helene Muller (women's 50m freestyle, 25,94; 100m freestyle relay, 55,96; 100m freestyle, semis, 55,94, final 55,82; 200m freestyle semis, 2:00,99, final, 2:00,53)

5 - Terence Parkin (men's 100m breast, 1:02,41; 200m breaststroke, semis 2:14,19, final 2:13,57; 200m IM 2:01,95; 400m IM 4:19,31)

5 - Roland Schoeman (men's 100m freestyle, semis, 49,91, final 49,79, 50m free heats, 22,19; semis 22,32, final 22,46)

2 - Brett Petersen (men's 100m breaststroke, semis 1:01,62, final 1:02,15)

2 - Mandy Loots (women's 100m butterfly, semis, 1:00,71; 200m butterfly, final, 2:13,01)

2 - Sarah Poewe (women's 100m breaststroke, final 1:08,62; 200m breast 2:27,58)

2 - Brendon Dedekind (men's 50m freestyle, semis 22,12, final 22,13)

1 - Charlene Wittstock (women's 100m backstroke, 1:02,93)

1 - Nick Folker (50m freestyle, 22,63)

SA swimmers sink in tough day in Sydney

21 September 2000

South African swim sprinters Brendon Dedekind and Roland Schoeman failed in their bid to qualify for the Olympic 50m freestyle final, both falling short in their semifinals on Thursday.

In other action, Helene Muller clocked her fourth national record from her fifth swim, and Cape Town teenager Sarah Poewe posted her second best time to finish sixth in the 200m breaststroke.

Dedekind touched in 22.39 seconds - the ninth best on the evening, or just 0.04 seconds short of earning a spot in Friday's race to determine the fastest swimmer in the world.

Schoeman, owner of the 22.04 African record, managed only 22.41.

The pair last year cracked the world's two best times.

While Schoeman ignored the press after his effort, the ever-approachable Dedekind stopped to talk.

"I'm not disappointed because I know that I did everything possible to win.

"I want to apologise to everyone back home who want us to get more medals. So do we," he added with a smile.

"I know I can hang the guys on any day, but today was not my day. That's why I swim the 50m," said the United States-based electrical engineer, who won gold at the Pan Pacific Championships in the same pool last year.

American Gary Hall Jr, who finished second to Dedekind at Pan Pacs, was the fastest on the evening in 22.07.

Next best were flying Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenbrand (22.11), American Anthony Ervin (22.13) and Russia's Alexander Popov, who holds the 21.64 world record and is looking to win his third consecutive Olympic 50m gold.

Dedekind plans to return to South Africa for a lengthy holiday, with some extreme sports in mind.

"I want to do some scuba diving, some bungee jumping, things like that. I haven't had a holiday in basically four years, so I'm going to take some time off.

"I'll get back in the pool when I'm ready."

Muller finished sixth in the women's 100m freestyle final in a continental record of 55.19 seconds, adding to her two 100m and one 200m SA marks.

"I'm so happy I made the final and I'm very happy I with my times. Who would have thought? Helene Muller, boerkind from Potchefstroom," laughed the Nebraska-based student, who will compete in the 50m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay heats on Friday.

"My focus is on the relay," said Muller, who swam the same event in Atlanta four years ago when SA finished fourth.

"If I make it in the 50m, then I make it. If I don't, then whoop-de-doo."

Poewe, who just missed out on a bronze medal with her fourth place in the 100m breaststroke on Monday, was happy with her 2:25.72.

"It's still my first Olympics," said the blonde 17-year-old, who led into the first turn, was in second at halfway and in sixth place after 150m.

"I'm happy, it's one of my best times," added Poewe, whose 2:25.54 personal best in Wednesday's semifinals would not have improved her final position on Thursday.

"It was a tough race, some people came out of nowhere."

Hungarian Agnes Kovacs won in 2:24.35, followed by Americans Kristy Kowal (2:24.56) and Amanda Beard (2:25.35).

Charlene Wittstock was the 14th best in the women's 200m backstroke semifinals, touching in 2:14.97. - Sapa