Meder, Nel rewrite the record books on second night of SA swimming champs

 Rebecca Meder and Olivia Nel ensured the record-breaking continued on the second night of action at the SA National Aquatic Championships in Gqeberha on Thursday. Meder kicked things off... Read more
Meder, Nel rewrite the record books on second night of SA swimming champs

 Rebecca Meder and Olivia Nel ensured the record-breaking continued on the second night of action at the SA National Aquatic Championships in Gqeberha on Thursday.

Meder kicked things off in the 200m individual medley, bettering her own SA record set at last year’s Commonwealth Games to claim the title in a speedy 2:11.39. That ensured she dipped well under the A qualifying time for the Swimming World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan this July. It also saw her swimming under the even more stringent A qualification time for next year’s Paris Olympic Games.

“To be honest, it didn’t feel that fast – I thought I was going to miss it. I read a bible verse before… I was literally reciting that verse as I was swimming,” explained an elated Meder after the race.

“I knew I could go 2:12.9 but 2:11.3 was just wow! So I’m really proud of myself.

“I knew coming in I’m the strongest, fastest, fittest and leanest I’ve ever been so I knew with all of those statistics I should be the fastest I’ve ever been. This pool has brought me much heartache before, missing the qualifying times for the Olympics and Commonwealth Games… so I’m really stoked.”

Nel claimed her record in the women’s 50m backstroke. Fresh from her victory in the 100m backstroke on Wednesday, the 20-year-old took the sprint title in a new SA mark of 28.39, bettering Chanelle van Wyk’s 2009 time of 28.55.

“I knew the SA record was 28.5 so I was really just hoping for anything under that. I’m just so stoked with that,” said Nel after the race. “I love my backstroke races. I actually haven’t been training too much backstroke this season, so I think to come and do really well, I’m really happy about that. I’ve just been really excited to race these events.”

Pieter Coetzé, meanwhile, came within two hundredths of a second of one of the older SA men’s swimming records, in the 50m backstroke. He powered to victory in 24.36 seconds, placing him top in the world so far this year but just short of Gerhard Zandberg’s 2009 mark.

“I’m very happy with it. Hopefully I can get the record before the end of the year,” said the 18-year-old who broke his own SA and African 100m backstroke record on Wednesday.

“It definitely felt really good and smooth and it felt like I wasn’t going all over the place too much – I was pretty straight so it definitely felt good.”

Veteran Chad le Clos contested his first event of the championships, taking an impressive 13th national title in the 200m butterfly. He was pushed all the way by 19-year-old Ethan du Preez, who turned first for the final 50m, but in characteristic style, Le Clos powered past to win in 1:56.05 and claim a World Championship A qualifying time. Du Preez was second in a B qualifying time of 1:57.09.

“I thought I would be a bit faster to be fair, but I always get nervous for Nationals for some reason – it scares me every time I race here,” admitted Le Clos afterwards.

“I was just trying to go with Ethan and try and be as flowy as possible. Obviously I got tired in the last 10 metres but my head was down. I’m sad that he didn’t get the [A qualifying] time as well,” added Le Clos.

“I was confident I was going to qualify tonight but I just wanted to swim it my way and control the race, not let my emotions control me like I was in the past.”

Two swimmers with a disability also achieved qualifying times for the Para Swimming World Championships which take place in Manchester, England from 31 July – 6 August.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Christian Sadie swam 29.37 in the morning heats to qualify in the S7 50m freestyle. Kat Swanepoel did the same in the women’s S4 50m freestyle, finishing in a new continental record time of 42.97 seconds.

“I took two African records, in the 50m breaststroke and the 100m backstroke yesterday, and then today in the 50m freestyle,” she explained afterwards. “We’ve been working hard and my times have been looking good but you’ve always got a bit of a doubt because training doesn’t always compute to competition. But I’ve got the qualifying times for world champs and the Paralympics so it’s looking good for the future.”

Newly crowned SA Sportsperson of the Year with a disability Minke Janse van Rensburg provided another highlight of the night, speeding to a new open world record for swimmers with Down syndrome in the 50m freestyle, in a time of 34.17 seconds.

Swimming action continues at the Newton Park Swimming Pool in Gqeberha on Friday and ends on Sunday, 16 April.

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