Pieter Coetzé edges out Chad le Clos in tightly contested day two of SA Champs

Pieter Coetzé edges out Chad le Clos in tightly contested day two of SA Champs
Pieter Coetzé continued his impressive start to the SA Nationals with another gold in the 100m freestyle on day two. (Photo: Anton Geyser / Gallo Images)

Chad le Clos put all his eggs in the 100m freestyle basket, opting out of his favoured 200m butterfly event on Tuesday evening, but still fell short of 19-year-old sensation Pieter Coetzé.

Pieter Coetzé (49.12) took first place in the men’s 100m freestyle, ahead of veteran Chad le Clos (49.34) in the big race draw on Tuesday evening at the South African Swimming Championships.

It was a composed swim by Coetzé, who turned first at the 50m mark — on track for an Olympic qualifying time.

However, the 19-year-old’s second lap was more than two seconds slower but he was still quick enough to finish ahead of Le Clos, who was breathing down his neck, as well as Guy Brooks (49.42) who closed out the podium.

“I always love winning, but to get the win with Chad in the race and Guy looking good, was a lot of fun,” an exhausted Coetzé said after the sprint race.

“I’ve been trying to do more races and nationals is always a chance for me to do that so to do some freestyle and to win is amazing.

“Time-wise I would have liked to get a 48 seconds (Olympic qualifying time) but we didn’t get a lot of rest coming into this.

“We’re thinking about Paris, so I’m really happy with it.”

Sates takes gold

Le Clos opted out of the 200m butterfly – the event he clinched his maiden Olympic gold medal in – which was scheduled less than half an hour after the freestyle.

“I just had to pick one and I felt like the 100m freestyle was a bit more suited to me at the moment,” Le Clos explained to Daily Maverick.

This left the door open for Matthew Sates (1:56.99) to contest the 200m butterfly almost unopposed as he sealed the gold medal in his preferred event more than five seconds faster than second-placed Dylan Wright (2:03.12).

sates swimming champs

Matthew Sates in action during the men’s 200m butterfly at the SA National Aquatic Championships at Newton Park Swimming Pool in Gqeberha on 9 April 2024. (Photo: Anton Geyser / Gallo Images)

Aquatics Gauteng Tshwane’s Benjamin Plattner rounded off the podium in 2:04.44.

“It’s always nice to swim with Chad so I’m a little disappointed he didn’t swim,” said Sates, who produced the loudest cheer of the evening from the Newton Park Swimming Pool crowd as he raced to the finish line.

“But I’m used to doing it like a time trial type of thing. [I was] just figuring out how to hold the stroke rate. I died a bit at the end though.”

Sates had already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 200m butterfly so was not pushing any qualifiers, despite finishing within an arm’s length of the time.

“I just needed to finish top two [to ensure qualifying] for the Olympics. I’ve done the qualifying time, so I wasn’t really looking for a time,” he said, having qualified at the Fina World Cup last year.

Le Clos, not having qualified for the Olympics in the 200m butterfly yet, intended to solo swim a time trial tomorrow, but decided against it at the last minute after further consultation with his coach.

The cut-off for qualification for the Olympic Games is 23 June.

Other winners

In the women’s 200m butterfly final it was Duné Coetzee who took top honours, winning in a time of 2:13.97 with Trinity Hearne second in 2:17.06 and Leigh McMorran third in 2:17.50.

Earlier in the evening Aimee Canny secured the women’s 100m freestyle title ahead of Erin Gallagher. The 20-year-old took the gold in a time of 54.65 seconds, with Gallagher second in 54.88 and Caitlin de Lange third in 55.92.

“I think maybe I went out a little hard,” said Canny afterwards. “I like to back-end races and I think maybe I could have gone out a little easier and then come back, but overall it was a good time so I’m happy with it.

“This was right on my PB so I’m really excited for tomorrow [200m freestyle]. I’m feeling good in the water so I’m excited.”

Paralympic qualifiers

There were three Paralympic Games qualifiers on Tuesday evening.

Christian Sadie qualified in the heat and final in the 100m backstroke S7, with her best time coming in the heat at 1:15.14.

Nathan Hendricks did the same in 100m backstroke S13 and qualified in the finals in a time of 1:02.12.

Kat Swanepoel, who had already qualified for the Paralympics, did so again in 50m breaststroke SB3 and got it in the heats in a time of 59.12.

However, she was disqualified – for kicking her legs when they should have been dragged across the 50m stroke – in the final when she recorded an improved time of 58.04. She has appealed against the decision. DM


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