Coetzé concludes fantastic SA Champs with fifth gold medal in Gqeberha

Teen sensation Pieter Coetzé wrapped up the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha with his fifth gold medal of the meet on Saturday. The 19-year-old once again outgunned one of... Read more
Coetzé concludes fantastic SA Champs with fifth gold medal in Gqeberha

Teen sensation Pieter Coetzé wrapped up the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha with his fifth gold medal of the meet on Saturday.

The 19-year-old once again outgunned one of his childhood role models, Roland Schoeman, to take the 50m freestyle title in 22.45 seconds. Clayton Jimme finished second in 22.83, with Guy Brooks taking the bronze in 23.00. The 43-year-old Schoeman finished just off the podium in fourth place in 23.07.

Coetzé admitted afterwards that a long week of racing had taken its toll. “I was really feeling tired before [the race]. I was sitting in the ready room yawning, but I’m just glad to get the win tonight,” he said.

As for once again beating 2004 Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medallist Schoeman, as he did in Gqeberha a year ago, Coetzé reckoned: “I don’t think I’ll even get used to that… 10-year-old me would be absolutely shocked that I just beat Chad [le Clos] and Roland in one meet. It’s actually crazy, but obviously, I’m still young and early in my career and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to even race against these guys.”

While Coetzé was pleased with his gold medal collection (50 and 100m freestyle, and 50, 100, and 200m backstroke with Olympic qualifying times in his two main backstroke events), the ambitious teenager was hoping for more. “I kind of expected a bit more of myself time-wise in some races, but five golds is always nice, and I don’t want to be too hard on myself, so I’ll take it. Now I’m just going to put it behind me and enjoy myself for the next few days and wind down.”

Fellow Olympian Erin Gallagher added a third national title to her haul by outsprinting the field in the women’s 50m freestyle. The 25-year-old blitzed to victory in 24.95 seconds to edge out Caitlin de Lange by just one hundredth of a second, with 16-year-old Jessica Thompson taking the bronze in 25.41 seconds.

At the other end of the distance spectrum, Stephanie Houtman claimed her first title of the week, cruising to victory in the 1500m freestyle in 16 minutes 41.20 seconds, while 16-year-old Kris Mihaylov took the men’s 800m freestyle title in 8:09.51.

Fresh from her African record-breaking and Olympic-qualifying swim in the opening leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay on Friday night, Aimee Canny claimed her third title of the meet, bagging victory in the 200m individual medley in 2:12.23. Tatjana Smith, who has lit up the pool in the breaststroke events, ended off her week with a silver medal in the IM in 2:13.88, with 400IM winner Dakota Tucker taking the bronze in 2:17.14.

Matt Sates collected his fourth gold in the men’s 200m individual medley in 1:59.98 to add to the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly titles he claimed earlier in the week, along with the 100m butterfly gold he dramatically shared with Chad le Clos on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Para swimmers also wrapped up a successful championships with two more outstanding performances on Saturday.

Kat Swanepoel climbed to the top of the world rankings in the S4 50m backstroke after finishing in 48.14 seconds in the morning heats and then went even quicker with a time of 47.16 seconds in the evening final.

Christian Sadie, who already qualified in the S7 50m butterfly on Friday, bettered that mark in a time trial on Saturday, swimming 29.97 seconds to rise to second spot in the world rankings.

Swimmers who have achieved Olympic qualifying times at the SA Championships 2024:

– Aimee Canny (200m freestyle)
– Pieter Coetzé (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke)
– Kaylene Corbett (200m breaststroke)
– Erin Gallagher (100m butterfly)
– Tatjana Smith (100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke)

Photo: SA Sports Images/Anton Geyser

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