Vincent dives into Olympic prep after world champs success

While the country’s swimming team left the World Aquatics Championships in Doha with one bronze medal, thanks to Pieter Coetzé’s performance in the 200m backstroke, the pick of the... Read more
Vincent dives into Olympic prep after world champs success
While the country’s swimming team left the World Aquatics Championships in Doha with one bronze medal, thanks to Pieter Coetzé’s performance in the 200m backstroke, the pick of the SA athletes competing in the other sports contested at the event in Qatar was diver Julia Vincent.

Having already booked her ticket to Paris at the last World Championships in Japan, Vincent was using this event as vital preparation for the Olympic Games and was thrilled to secure a top-10 spot in the final of the 3m event.

“I’m very happy with my performance in Doha,” she said after returning to her base in the United States. “I was a little worried going into it in some ways and in some ways, I felt a peace. But I was a bit worried because my training hasn’t been nearly as long as I’d like it to be – just dealing with injury and stuff so I definitely was going in just hoping to see where I was at and see what I could do with the training that I had leading into it, so I’m pretty happy with that.”

Vincent finished in 16th place in the 3m preliminaries before improving to 10th spot in the semifinals. Competing in the final, she was up to sixth place at one stage but ultimately finished in ninth spot with an overall total of 279.40 points.

China’s Yani Chang (354.75) and Yiwen Chen (336.60) claimed the gold and silver with Korean Suji Kim taking bronze with an overall score of 311.25 points.

Speaking about her improvement through the rounds of competition, Vincent explained: “I find prelims more nerve-wracking than anything. That’s just for me personally the hardest to compete in from a mental standpoint.

“I feel a lot more relaxed knowing that I’ve made a semifinal and especially in the final I feel like I have nothing to lose so I just move freely, dive the way I normally dive – or at least attempt to do that – whereas in the prelim… I find it very stressful. So I think I improve
because I become more relaxed. I just become more comfortable as each round goes by.”

The 29-year-old diver has a busy few months ahead as she prepares for Paris with several international competitions and World Cups on the agenda, but she said this result was an ideal way to kick off the year.

“I do think this performance is important leading into Paris, in the build-up. It just starts the year off on a good note. At the same time, there’s a lot of time between now and Paris so I would love to be a lot better by the time Paris rolls around. I definitely think this is a great
step in the right direction beginning the Olympic year,” she said.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s other divers in Doha did not progress past the preliminaries. Bailey Heydra finished 29th in the 1m event and 17-year-old Zalika Methula was 35th overall. Heydra was 42nd overall in the 3m.

Speaking about her teammates, Vincent reckoned: “I think experience goes a long way and I’m sure over the next couple of years we’ll see that improvement as they head to more competitions.”

Elsewhere, the pick of SA’s open water swimmers was Amica de Jager who finished 22nd in the 5km event in 59:04.00 and 27th in the 10km in 1 hour 58:38.60.

Tory Earle was 25th over 5km while Callan Lotter finished 29th in the 10km.

The men’s team found it tougher going with Connor Albertyn 47th and Rossouw Venter 63rd in the 5km and Henré Louw 53rd and Ruan Breytenbach 58th in the 10km.

Over at the artistic swimming venue, the SA team of Holly de Bruyn, Ella Huang, Phindy Makhaye, Tayla-Jade van Huyssteen, Casey Williams and Sarah Williams finished 17th in the Team Technical routine.

After one victory each in their playoff matches, the women’s and men’s water polo teams finished 14th and 15th respectively.

Photo: World Aquatics

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