Every South African a Swimmer

Van Niekerk edges close to African record en route to world champs semi-final

Van Niekerk edges close to African record en route to world champs semi-final
Friday, 24 June 2022 - SA’s Lara van Niekerk came within five hundredths of a second of her own African record on her way to victory in her 50m breaststroke heats at the Swimming World Championships in Budapest on Friday.

The 19-year-old powered to victory in a time of 29.77 to book her spot in Friday night’s semi-finals as the fastest qualifier.

The Pretoria swimmer, who set the African record of 29.72 at the SA National Championships in April, was one of just two swimmers to dip under 30 seconds in the heats.

“I’m super-happy. We just wanted to go as close to my PB as possible in the heat swim, just to get up there to the top for the semi-finals and then take it from there,” said Van Niekerk.

“We’ll just keep it exactly the same for tonight, go with the same mindset, not put any pressure on myself and just enjoy it the way I did this morning because clearly it works,” she added.

Meanwhile, fellow sprinter Emma Chelius finished third in her 50m freestyle heat in a speedy 24.87 seconds – just .23 of a second off the South African record she set at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

That meant the Durban swimmer booked her spot in Friday night’s semi-finals as the seventh fastest qualifier.

“I’m very happy. It’s finally the sprint girls’ turn to race so I’m really chuffed with how this morning’s swim went,” said Chelius, who reached the semi-finals in the same event at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“It felt really solid. I was in quite a fast heat, so I was really excited to race those girls and really excited to be through to the semi-finals for tonight.

“We’re just building towards Commonwealths. We’ve been working a lot on my speed, so to get so close to my personal best time and the South African record is really exciting and I’m hoping for a little bit faster tonight – just to work on that start and get the speed going all the way through.”

The 50m freestyle semi-finals are scheduled to start at 6.17pm on Friday night with the 50m breaststroke semis due to start at 6.27pm. Both finals will take place on Saturday night.


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Swimming South Africa’s Marketing Coordinator

Mmathapelo Phale

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Swimming South Africa is the governing body of aquatics in South Africa.

Its objective is to encourage the practice of aquatic disciplines for all in South Africa with the purpose of promoting swimming as a life skill through Learn to Swim programmes; providing healthy exercise to South Africans of all ages and races; recruiting recreational swimmers to compete in the various competitions; and promoting competition and athlete development to the highest level. Swimming South Africa is kindly supported by SASCOC, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Arena, Sport & Recreation SA and Rand Water.