African records for Coetzé and Meder at World Short Course Championships

Pieter Coetzé faced a tough mental battle when he had to swim his 50m backstroke final at the World Short Course Championships twice on Friday. The 18-year-old had to... Read more
African records for Coetzé and Meder at World Short Course Championships

Pieter Coetzé faced a tough mental battle when he had to swim his 50m backstroke final at the World Short Course Championships twice on Friday.

The 18-year-old had to deal with the drama of a false start signal – later discovered to be an error by the starter. Like several others in the pool, Coetzé didn’t hear the signal and swam the full distance before realising the race had been halted. Of the swimmers competing, he finished in third place in a blistering 22.65 but the time didn’t count for anything.

When the final was re-raced around an hour later, the Pretoria teenager still managed to produce a record swim, however, finishing fifth in 22.84 to take a hundredth of a second off the African record set by Gerhard Zandberg 13 years ago. Coetzé also set a new continental mark in the 100m backstroke earlier in the week.

The race was won by American Ryan Murphy in 22.64 (just a hundredth of a second faster than Coetzé’s original time), with Australian Isaac Cooper taking the silver in 22.73 and Poland’s Kacper Stokowski the bronze in 22.74.

“I looked up [after the first race] and saw the time and I was super-happy but I could see something was going on. It’s just bad luck when that happens, I think, you just have to take it and move on,” said Coetzé afterwards.

“But I’m very happy with the record… In the 50 it’s all about executing and I know exactly where I can change and what I did wrong so I’m very happy and I’m excited for what’s to come,” he added.

Coetzé also contested the men’s 50m freestyle earlier in the day but missed out on a spot in semis, finishing 40th overall in the heats in 21.68.

The only other South African to feature in Friday night’s finals was Rebecca Meder. The 20-year-old Durban swimmer had set two African records on her way to the final of the 100m individual medley, eclipsing Zimbabwe’s multiple Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry’s previous mark.

She went even quicker in the final to set another continental record, finishing sixth in 58.46.

The race was won by Dutchwoman Marrit Steenbergen in 57.53, with France’s Beryl Gastaldello second in 57.63 and Sweden’s Louise Hansson third in 57.68.

“I was actually a bit more nervous for the semi than I was for the final,” admitted Meder. “I just wanted to see what I could do against those top girls. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain. It was another half a second PB from my PB last night… It was a massive swim for me and to be sixth in the world is incredible.”

Meanwhile, fresh from her African record in the opening leg of the 4×50 freestyle relay on Thursday, 18-year-old Caitlin de Lange did well to reach the semifinals of the individual 50m freestyle at her first World Short Course Championship. She won her morning heat in 24.67 to progress and finished eighth in her semifinal in 24.53.

Stephanie Houtman finished 13th overall in the 1500m freestyle in 16:35.55. Kian Keylock was 24th overall in the men’s 200m breaststroke in 2:11.20 and the versatile Meder was 19th in the corresponding women’s event in 2:23.64 – while Emily Visagie was disqualified.

The mixed 4x50m freestyle relay team of Clayton Jimmie, Simon Haddon, De Lange and Milla Drakopoulos finished 11th overall in 1:33.28.

Swimming action continues in Melbourne on Saturday, with the final day of competition on Sunday, 18 December.

Photo, Pieter Coetzé: @SouthAfricanSportsImages

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