The youngest female member of South Africa’s Commonwealth Games Team, Duné Coetzee, proved she is in good form by winning three gold medals at the recently concluded South African Junior Championships in Durban.
The 15-year old Tuks swimmer won the 200-metre as well as 400m freestyle events in her age-group and was victorious in the 200m-butterfly.
‘I didn’t break any records, but that wasn’t the plan, as I didn’t taper down at all for the championships. I saw it as a good hard training session before the Commonwealth Games.
‘What was exciting is that I managed to [provisionally] qualify in the 200m and 400m freestyle races for the Youth Olympic Games. So I’m satisfied with my performance,’ said Coetzee who bettered quite a few South African records in her age-group over December during the qualifying gala.
Coetzee has got quite a hectic Games schedule ahead of her. On 5 April she’ll be competing in the 100m butterfly as well as the 200m freestyle, and four days later she’ll be swimming the 200m butterfly and then the 400m freestyle the next day. She is not yet sure whether she will be competing in any of the relays.
Some pundits are concerned that it might be a bit overwhelming as it seems she might just be the youngest female swimmer yet to represent South Africa at the Games.
But what Coetzee might lack in years she makes up with tenacity.
‘Getting the opportunity to compete at the Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly going to be my toughest swimming challenge ever. But I’m looking forward to it. I hope I can learn enough to stand me in good stead for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
‘My main goal will be to try and improve on my personal best times. I’m usually at my best when I get to compete in a final, so the challenge will be to try and improve on my times in the heats. Hopefully, if I get to do so, I might qualify for at least one final.’
Coetzee is grateful for the fact that the South African swimmers are already booked in at the athlete’s village in the Gold Coast.
‘It’s amazing. What’s great is that I have the opportunity to get used to the vibe at the Games. So when I get to compete, I won’t be overwhelmed and only focus on what I need to do. I have already trained in the official swimming pool which is also good,’ said the Tuks swimmer who is also a learner at Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool.
Picture of Coetzee courtesy of Reg Caldecott