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Teenager Coetzee claims Commonwealth qualifying time

Coetzee

By qualifying in the 200-metre freestyle event for next year’s Commonwealth Games, 15-year-old Duné Coetzee proved that anything’s possible if you put your mind to it.

Sunday night at the KZN Aquatics Premier Championships at the Kings Park Aquatics Centre in Durban saw the Tuks swimmer winning her event in a personal best time of 2min 02.68sec. Marlies Ross was second in 2:03.04 and Kristin Bellingan third in 2:03.68.

An elated Coetzee ascribed her success to putting in the long hard hours. ‘From August my coach, Linda de Jager, and I worked on improving my times in the 200m events. I’m so so excited about the time I have swum as it proves that if you’re prepared to put in the hard work, you will reap success.’

Coetzee has also set her sights on trying to qualify for the 200m butterfly as well as the 400m freestyle. She’s the current South African senior 200m butterfly champion and boasts a personal best time of 2:14.14.

Even though Coetzee has qualified, it is not a foregone conclusion that she will be selected for the Commonwealth Games.

At 15 she might be too young but the Tuks swimmer hopes she will get the chance to compete as she sees it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience.

‘The time difference between Australia’s Gold Coast and Tokyo where the 2020 Olympic Games is going to be is only an hour which means it will give me the opportunity to get used to competing in that time zone and against senior more experienced swimmers.’

Coetzee started swimming when she was a baby in order for her to become water safe and at the age of seven, began competing in galas.

She sees Missy Franklin, who won five medals at the 2012 Olympics, and Katie Ledecky, who won five medals at the World Champs in 2015, as her role models.

‘From Ledecky I’ve learned that there’s no limit to what you can achieve. I watched Missy’s movie – Touch the Wall and there’s a heap of stuff I learned from it.

‘Locally my hero is Karin Prinsloo [Olympic and Commonwealth Games swimmer]. I had the privilege to meet Karin after she returned from the London Olympics in 2012,’ said the Tuks swimmer.

Picture of Coetzee in action courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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