Eastern Province swim sensation Jessica Liss has set her sights on coming out top in the ‘Battle of the Jessica’s’ when she lines up against another teenager, Western Province swim star Jessica Pengelly, in the second leg of the Samsung Swimming Grand Prix series at the University of the Western Cape on February 23-24.
At the tender age of 12 years, Liss has the fastest 200 metres breaststroke time in the country at 2 minutes 29,77 seconds to her name, and will line up against 16-year-old Pengelly and the highly-rated Kathryn Meaklim in the 400 metres individual medley.
While Pengelly may start as race favourite for the event based on her SA record time of 4:43,97, compared to the season bests of Meaklim (4:44,47) and Liss (5:00,16), the competitive rivalry between these three swimmers is expected to be one of the highlights of the event.
"I need to dip under the Olympic A qualifying time of 2:28,21 in the 200 metres breaststroke, in order to have a chance of making the SA team for the Beijing Olympics," said Liss, a grade 7 pupil at St George’s Prep school in Port Elizabeth. "Competing in the Samsung Swimming Grand Prix series will certainly help sharpen my racing in order to achieve this at the Telkom SA National Championships in Durban in April."
Word is that Liss battles to find quality opponents to race against in the 200 metres breaststroke, as many believe that competing against a 12-year-old is one thing, but getting beaten is another! KwaZulu-Natal-based Meaklim, 18, will be there to take up the challenge, having entered with a season best time of 2:34,70.
Liss will also compete in the 100 metres breaststroke in which she has a season best time of 1:12,96. KwaZulu-Natal’s Courtnay Mower (1:13,30), Pretoria-based Yolana du Plessis (1:13,89) and Meaklim (1:14,87) are likely to be the toughest opponents for Liss.
While Somerset West-based Pengelly is also set to take to the swimming pool in the 400 metres freestyle, 200 metres individual medley and the 200 metres backstroke, butterfly star Keri Shaw will be out to set the record straight when she takes on the experienced Amanda Loots in the 50, 100 and 200 metres butterfly events.
Pretoria-based Shaw, who holds the SA 100 metres butterfly record at 59,17, was reduced to third spot behind Loots and Lize-Mari Retief in her favourite event at last weekend’s Samsung Swimming Grand Prix series held in Germiston.
At this weekend’s event, at Swimming SA’s National Training Centre on the University of the Western Cape campus, Shaw, 18, is expected to bounce back with some fast times, to show the Cape Town swimming fans why she was the talk of the national team during her record-setting feat in Japan last August.
Two-time Olympian Loots, clocked times of 27,26 and 59,72 respectively in the 50 and 100 metres butterfly event in Germiston and has always proved to be a favourite among the swimming enthusiasts.
The swimming action at the University of the Western Cape will take place on Saturday from 11h00 onwards, with the Sunday programme scheduled for a 10h00 start. There is no entry charge for spectators.
The top athlete on the points standings, calculated over the two legs that make up the Samsung Swimming Grand Prix series, will collect R10 000.