20 October 2009
The Durban Fina World Cup, held on Friday and Saturday, produced numerous top performances, with Therese Alshammar’s world records in the 100 metres individual medley and 50 metres butterfly the highlights.
The Swedish star cashed in by picking up US$10 000 for each world record. Her individual medley mark came in the heats in a time of 58.51. It appeared that she had targeted it, based upon her decision to withdraw from the freestyle in favour of the IM.
Alshammar claimed the butterfly world record in the final, clocking 24.75 seconds, bettering the 24.99 set by Marieke Guehrer, the women’s overall World Cup winner in the 2007/08 season.
Two other world records fell, both of them to Americans. Peter Marshall improved the 50 metres backstroke best to 22.75 seconds, eclipsing Randall Bal’s previous mark by 0.12 seconds, while Jessica Hardy swam the 50 breaststroke in 29.45 seconds, which bettered her own record of 29.58.
There were also some excellent performances by South African swimmers, as well as a number of surprises. The biggest of these was caused by Roland Schoeman, who edged out world record holder Cameron van der Burgh in the 50 metres breaststroke, clocking 25.90 to Van der Burgh’s 25.94.
“I haven’t swum breaststroke in quite a while and it was a fun race for me,” Schoeman told the Fina website. “I knew if I did a good turn off the wall at halfway, I would have a chance. Van der Burgh is a great competitor and trains really hard, so I was delighted to get the win here.”
Van der Burgh bounced back in the 100 metres, winning it in a World Cup record of 56.60 seconds.
Schoeman, meanwhile, claimed victory in the 50 metres butterfly in 22.32 seconds, which was an African record and only 0.14 seconds outside the world record belonging to France’s Amaury Leveaux.
‘Far from finished’
“Lots of people have written me off after a quiet 2009 swim season,” Schoeman told journalists afterwards. “But I am still here and far from finished. It was just great to be able to put together a performance like this in front of our South African crowd.”
George du Rand established a World Cup record in the 200 metres backstroke, touching in one minute 49.53 seconds.
Chad le Clos was another of the standout performers, setting national records in winning the 400 metres in 4:05.04 and the 200 metres in 1:54.45.
Schoeman’s win in the 50 metres breastroke earned him the highest points among the men – 1 060 – while Alshammars world record earned her the highest points out of anyone – 1 076.
Swimmer of the Year
The day before the World Cup, Van der Burgh was named South Africa’s Swimmer of the Year. During the past year, he captured the overall World Cup title and was crowned world champion in the 50 metres breaststroke in Rome.
The other nominees were Jean Basson (4th in the 400 metres freestyle at the Beijing Olympics), Roland Schoeman (a world record in the short course 50 metres freestyle), Darian Townsend (six gold, five silver, and two bronze medals in the World Cup), Sebastien Rousseau (SA 200 metres butterfly record), and Kathryn Meaklim (3rd in the World Cup and the winner of more races than any other woman).
Van der Burgh was also named South African swimming’s Personality of the Year and shared the Best Performance of the Year with Basson.
Rousseau was named the Most Promising Athlete of the Year, while the Disabled Swimmer of the Year went to Natalie du Toit.
South Africa’s Diver of the Year award went to Nicholas Pawley, Shannon Crowder was named Synchronised Swimmer of the Year, and Etienne le Roux picked up the Water Polo Player of the Year award.
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