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Semi-final performances from Van Niekerk and Sates at swimming world champs

Sunday, 19 June 2022 - Two of South Africa’s teenage swimmers reached their respective semi-finals at their first World Championships in Budapest on Sunday.
Semi-final performances from Van Niekerk and Sates at swimming world champs

FINA World Aquatics Championships 2022

Lara van Niekerk finished fifth in her 100m breaststroke heat to progress to the evening semi-final after finishing in a time of 1:06.75. The 19-year-old from Pretoria then led in the first 50m of her semi-final but slowed in the second half of the race, swimming exactly the same time as her morning swim to finish in seventh place and did not progress to Monday’s final.

Speaking about competing in her first World Championships semi-final, Van Niekerk said: “It was actually an amazing experience… I enjoyed that moment so much, walking out there and experiencing all that. I definitely felt a bit nervous but it was good nerves.

“I saw at the turn that I was in front so I just tried to keep that gap, but I did die a bit at the end. I’m happy – we were focusing a bit more on the first 50 than the second,” she added.

Van Niekerk’s front-end speed bodes well for the 50m event which will be contested on Friday.

“I’m excited about the 50. With all the speed and all the starts that we’ve been practising I think the 50 is going to be the better one – and we focused more on the 50 for world champs,” added Van Niekerk.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Matt Sates finished seventh in his 200m freestyle heat but his time of 1:47.28 was fast enough to progress to the evening semi-final. There he swam a quicker 1:46.63 to finish joint fifth but missed out on a place in Monday’s final, with 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici swimming a world junior record of 1:44.40 to win the other semi-final and qualify fastest.

Earlier in the day Stephanie Houtman finished second in her heat but 21st overall in the 1500m freestyle in a time of 17:08.12 while Olivia Nel was 25th overall in the 100m backstroke after finishing eighth in her heat in a time of 1:02.95.

On Saturday Sates finished 11th overall in the 400m individual medley heats in 4:14.81 and just missed out on making the final, which was won by 20-year-old Frenchman Leon Marchand in a championship record time of 4:04.28.

In the artistic swimming (formerly synchronised swimming) on Friday, Olympian Laura Strugnell finished 22nd in the women’s Solo Technical preliminaries while the combination of Skye  Macdonald and Xera Vegter-Maharaj finished 30th in the Duet Technical preliminaries.

ENDS

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