Johannesburg – Rene Warnes took her medal tally to five golds after she raced to three victories on Sunday to end on a high note at the SA Short Course Swimming Championships, held at the GC Jolliffe Pool in Pietermaritzburg.
Warnes won the women's 400m individual medley and 200m butterfly before the final day and added the 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley (IM) and 200m freestyle to her wins.
The 21-year-old had to survive a strong challenge from Tayla Lovemore in the 100m butterfly, clocking 1 minute 01.77 seconds to win by 0.25, while Tarryn Els took the bronze in 1:02.78.
Warnes then had to come from behind in the 200m IM later as Jolandi Els (Kovsies) opened up a lead after the 50m breaststroke leg, racing on to win in a respectable 2:15.52, with Els not too far off the pace in 2:17.15, and the bronze medal going to Lindsay McLoed (Action) in 2:22.59.
In the 200m freestyle Warnes was out on her own, winning her fifth title over the four days in 2:02.19 Ä well ahead of the chasing pack of Carmel Billson in 2:07.28 and Taneal Baptiste in 2:07.99.
“I want to concentrate on the 200m butterfly and 400m IM this season and see if I can be more competitive internationally,” said Warnes afterwards.
It was a big night for Neil de Villiers as well, as he rose to the occasion to break the magical two-minute barrier in the men's 200m backstroke, clocking 1:58.35 to beat Olympian Charl Crous in 2:00.28 and Paul van Achterbergh in 2:00.30.
“I am really pleased with this result as I have been on two minutes for two years now, so going well under my personal best is just amazing,” said De Villiers.
In fact, De Villiers had earlier been involved in a great battle in the 200m IM – challenging the younger Joshua Steyn who eventually took the title in a fast 2:02.05 to win by 0.23.
In the women's 50m freestyle, Lahesta Kemp raced to 25.33 to add to her 100m title. The men's 50m freestyle followed and Luke Pendock managed to stay ahead to the finish and clock another solid 22.66 – edging out Nico Meyer by just 0.30 with Reynard Wessels third on 23.09.
Jared Pike (Southern Dolphins) won the men's 50m breaststroke, clocking 27.98 to enjoy a reasonable gap from the challenging group with Lee Geeson (Westville) doing well for the silver in 28.66 and Adam Stevenson third in 28.75.
Olympian Suzaan van Biljon made it a clean sweep in the women's breaststroke events by taking the 100 metres in an improving 1:08.52 with Seals duo Tara Nicholas (1:10.16) and Claire Conlon (1:10.97) taking second and third respectively.
Janneke Malan notched up win in both the women's 50m and 200m backstroke – clocking 29.34 in the sprint and a sound 2:14.36 for the longer swim.
Westville 16-year-olds Daniel Ronaldson and Tristan Doyle sounded a stern warning to the older swimmers with two encouraging performances.
Both led from the start of their respective races to win well – Ronaldson taking the 200m butterfly in a solid 2:01.53, while Doyle added the 1500m freestyle title, with an excellent 15:56.41, to his 800m gold earlier in the tournament. – Sapa