Coetzé earns another shot at world champs medal by reaching 200m backstroke final

Pieter Coetzé booked a place in a second World Aquatics Championships final in Doha on Thursday night after finishing fifth in his 200m backstroke semifinal. The 19-year-old did well... Read more
Coetzé earns another shot at world champs medal by reaching 200m backstroke final

Pieter Coetzé booked a place in a second World Aquatics Championships final in Doha on Thursday night after finishing fifth in his 200m backstroke semifinal.

The 19-year-old did well to bounce back from missing out on a podium place in the 100m event by earning himself another shot at a medal.

Coetzé reached the first turn in his semifinal in second place, a position he held through the halfway mark, but he dropped back to third by the final turn and then further down to fifth. His time of 1:57.07 was quick enough to see him sneaking into Friday night’s final as the final qualifier, however. American Jack Aikins was quickest with a time of 1:56.32.

“I’m happy I made it back for the final. That was the only goal but not really happy with how I felt. It felt pretty tough so hopefully I can recover well,” he said after the race.

“I tried something new tonight by going out a little bit faster than usual and I definitely paid the price for that in the second two 50s so I’m definitely learning every time [I swim the 200m].

“The time is now to experiment a little bit so I’m glad I tried something new tonight and saw what works for me and what doesn’t work for me.”

Speaking about pushing through the disappointment of his fifth-place finish in 100m backstroke on Tuesday, the Pretoria swimmer added: “It was pretty tough especially that night and a little bit of the next morning but I think you have to feel those emotions and push through it and I definitely came out stronger on the other side.”

Earlier in the evening, Erin Gallagher finished sixth in the semifinal of the 100m freestyle in a time of  54.53 seconds, so just missing out on a spot in the final. The 25-year-old had also finished sixth in her morning heat.

“Honestly, I had no idea what to expect for the semis,” admitted the African record holder afterwards. “This morning was a very, very rough swim. I think I actually cried in my warm-up knowing that it was going to be a tough swim, so I’m just really grateful that I was given a second chance to swim and improve my time. So ja, I walked away from the race smiling, learnt
a lot of lessons, so I’m happy.”

Gallagher will be back in action tomorrow morning in the heats of the 50m butterfly.

“I am super excited, this is the race I’ve been waiting for all week so we’ll see what happens. I love 50 fly, so it’s just a splash and dash… You’ve got to execute everything perfectly,” she said.

The only other South African in action on Thursday was Matthew Randle who finished seventh in his 200m breaststroke heat. His time of 2 minutes 16.10 seconds saw him finishing 22nd overall and out of semifinal contention.

“I’m a little bit disappointed. I was going in thinking I could maybe do a bit better than I did,” said the 20-year-old afterwards. “But diving in, it didn’t feel real, it didn’t feel like I was in control and the whole race went about like that. It didn’t feel like I was in the race. It felt like I was almost watching it.”

Swimming at the World Aquatics Championships continues on Friday morning with both Chad le Clos and Matt Sates scheduled to swim in the 100m butterfly heats while Hannah Pearse will be in action in the 200m backstroke, Clayton Jimmie in the 50m freestyle and Gallagher in the 50m butterfly.

Photo: Anton Geyser/SA Sports Images

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