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Star swimmers back in action at SA Short Course Championships

Thursday, 11 August 2022 - Several stars of Team South Africa’s recent successful Commonwealth Games campaign were back in the pool as the SA Short Course Championships kicked off in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
Star swimmers back in action at SA Short Course Championships

SA National Short Course Invitational Championships 2021

Among them was double gold medallist in Birmingham, Lara van Niekerk, who wasted no time in securing a qualification time for the World Short Course Championships at the end of the year in Australia.

The Pretoria teenager swam 1:04.92 (already a qualifying time) on her way to victory in her morning 100m breaststroke heat and then went even quicker in the evening, taking the national title in a time of 1:04.89 – well under the required 1:06.18.

“I just tried to not put pressure on myself in any way,” said the 19-year-old. “I just wanted to come and enjoy the gala, just have a fun gala because the job has been done for now. I just wanted to come here, enjoy it, meet new people and see what I can do if I don’t put pressure on myself.”

Speaking about the events she will be focusing on in Pietermaritzburg, Van Niekerk added: “We just wanted to come and qualify in the breaststroke events – well, at least the 50 and 100 which I normally swim, and then the 200 would be a bonus.

“So now that I’ve got the 100, I’m halfway there so I’m just going to enjoy each race. I’m pretty sure I’ll get the 50m qualifying time, because I think I turned under the time in the 100 so I’m looking forward to that one.”

Meanwhile, also in action in Pietermaritzburg was fellow teenager Pieter Coetzé, fresh off securing a full collection of gold, silver and bronze medals in the backstroke events at the Commonwealth Games.

Coetzé claimed the 200m backstroke SA short course title in a time of 1:51.36 which was also well under the world championship qualifying mark (1:52.66).

“It’s nice to come back and do some more racing,” he said. “I’m definitely a bit tired after all the racing we did there [in Birmingham] and everything but it’s a lot of fun and nice to start off with a qualifying time,” he said after the race.

Coetzé confirmed he’ll be aiming to qualify in the 50m and 100m events as well. 

“I’m also doing the 50 free and 100 IM [individual medley]… I’m just keen to see where I’m at and have some fun. But it would be nice to get the qualifying times for all the backstroke events,” added the 18-year-old Olympian.

SA Short Course Championships action continues in Pietermaritzburg on Friday morning, with the meet coming to an end on Sunday, 14 August.

 

ENDS

Photo credit: @SouthAfricanSportsImages

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