Golden start for Sates at World Short Course Championships in Melbourne

Matt Sates kicked off the World Short Course Championships in spectacular fashion, claiming gold in the 200m individual medley and smashing his own African record in the process. The... Read more
Golden start for Sates at World Short Course Championships in Melbourne

Matt Sates kicked off the World Short Course Championships in spectacular fashion, claiming gold in the 200m individual medley and smashing his own African record in the process.

The 19-year-old from Pietermaritzburg turned first after the butterfly leg, dropped back to third on the backstroke and then steadily worked his way back with an excellent breaststroke performance to regain the lead by the penultimate turn with 50m to go.

There was no catching him on the freestyle, Sates powering to the finish in 1:50.15 for the gold. With that he also became the second fastest short course 200m IM swimmer in history. Only world-record-holder Ryan Lochte has swum faster.

American Carson Foster took silver in 1:50.96 and Canadian Finlay Knox the bronze in 1:51.04.

“I don’t even know what to say…,” a thrilled Sates commented afterwards, thanking everyone from teammates and coaches, to his grandparents, mom and the crowd.

“I feel good, I wasn’t expecting it so I’m very happy.”

Speaking about when he knew he could win the race, Sates added: “It was probably in the freestyle when I turned and looked to the side, and then I just gave it my all.”

Fellow teenager Pieter Coetzé was also in record-breaking from in the 100m backstroke. He claimed fourth place in his heat to progress to the evening semifinal where he finished fifth in a new African record time of 49.85. It was by far the faster of the two semifinals and saw the Pretoria swimmer going through to Wednesday’s final as the sixth fastest qualifier. American Ryan Murphy was quickest in 49.17.

Also in action was veteran Chad le Clos. The 30-year-old is gunning for podium places in the 100 and 200m butterfly but on Tuesday he also booked a spot in the final of the 50m butterfly. He finished third in his semifinal in 22.09 to progress to Wednesday’s final as the fifth fastest swimmer on the night. Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo was the quickest qualifier in 21.90.

Clayton Jimmie was the other South African representative in the event. He finished 43rd overall in the heats in 23.41.

Earlier in the day, Rebecca Meder set a new national record in the heats of the 200m individual medley, finishing in 2:07.47 to better the mark of 2:07.54 set by Kathryn Meaklim 13 years ago. The 20-year-old from Durban won her heat but just missed out on a place in the final by .22 of a second.

Rebecca Meder, Photo: FINA

Stephanie Houtman won her 400m freestyle heat but her time of 4:13.16 was the 19th fastest on the day and not quick enough to progress to the evening final. Her 16-year-old teammate, Milla Drakopoulos, finished 36th overall in the 100m backstroke in 1:01.52, while Emily Visagie was 32nd in the 50m butterfly heats in 28.39.

Drakopoulos, Visagie and Meder teamed up with Caitlyn de Lange in the 4x100m freestyle relay where they set a new African record of 3:41.57 but it was still not quick enough to qualify for the final. The previous mark of 3:41.80 set by Trudi Maree, Lehesta Kemp, Megan Stephens and Vanessa Mohr had stood for 10 years.

Swimming action continues on Wednesday in Melbourne, with the championships coming to an end on Sunday, 18 December.

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