Cameron van der Burgh tonight proved that he no short-course wonder: after setting three world s/c records last winter world cup season and emerging as overall world cup winner, he cracked his first world long-course record: 27.06sec over 50m breaststroke, in the semis at South African nationals in Durban.
Important to note at this point in swimming history - he wore a suit that has properties in it that were not there before February 2008. Those properties are there in response to the suit wars that followed the launch of you know what. Those properties may or may not be removed from suits that enhance performance sometime in the next year. That's not being nasty to young Cameron but that is where the sport is right now. He has received good guidance from the likes of Dirk Lange and revealed tonight that he has been working with Kosuke Kitajima's Japanese coach Norimasa Hirai.
Japan has turned heads this week with a set of performances at its own nationals that have included a few aberrations when it comes to personal improvements.
The 50m breaststroke standard had stood to Oleg Lisogor (UKR) at 27.18 since he won the European crown in Berlin in 2002 in the same pool in which Van der Burgh raced to world cup success this winter season past.
VD Burgh's progress:
"This was my last breaststroke race over 50 metres because the race distance is not an Olympic event and my training programme is more focused towards the 100 and 200 metres breaststroke, so I am delighted with my time," said Van der Burgh, Pretoria-based and guided from afar by Lange, German head coach and former head coach to South Africa. Van der Burgh's best before the semi was 27.29.
"It will take a while to sink in. I still can’t believe it," said the new world record holder. "I am training on the programme of Japanese national team head coach Norimasa Hirai who is the former mentor to 100 and 200 metres Beijing Olympic breaststroke gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima and I speak to him as often as possible about my training. I train at the academy in Pretoria where Ryk Neethling is based and he is always there to pass on advice." Lange, a man who did not get on with Neethling, has also played a part in Van der Burgh's success.
Meantime, three of the 2004 Olympic champion 4x100m quartet will be heading to Rome: Lyndon Ferns clocked 48.38 to win the 100m free final in the absence of Roland Schoeman, whose semi time of 48.61 takes him through, while Darian Townsend clocked 49.09 and will make the relay for Rome. Schoeman, on 23.15, made the grade for Rome in the 50m butterfly, while Townsend took the 200m medley crown, by repeating his semi time of 1:58.33, with second place going to Sebastien Rousseau in 2:00.01.
Jessica Pengelly set a 200m medley national record of 2:14.00 behind US-based Zimbabwean Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry, on 2:11.39, while Wendy Trott set an African record of 16:10.97 in the 1,500m free, and George du Rand added the 100m back to his Rome schedule in 54.72.
Results at a glance: