SA swim sensation Sates adds two more national titles to his hefty haul

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Relishing being back on home turf, Pietermaritzburg teenager Matt Sates added two more national titles to the three he won a day earlier at the Friday SA Short Course Swimming Championships.

The A qualification times required for the World Short Course Championships proved elusive on the day, but a total of six swimmers did achieve the B qualifying times in their respective races, meaning they’ll still be in line for selection for the team to represent South Africa at the global event in Melbourne, Australia this December.

Among them was Sates, who achieved the B qualifying marks in both the 200m freestyle and the 100m butterfly.

The 19-year-old claimed the 200m freestyle title in a time of 1:44.26, while Andrew Ross also dipped under the time, finishing second in 1:46.71.

Sates then achieved the B qualifier in the 100m butterfly after winning in a time of 51.90 and admitted afterwards he was still feeling the effects of his recent efforts at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“It has been tiring. I’ve had lots of trips and lots of galas, so it’s nice to be back home, and it’s really nice to race short course again,” he said.

“I’m not really trying for times too much. I’m just trying to race each event as well as possible. I raced two races today and got two B qualifying times, so I’m happy with that,” added Sates, who will be looking for another title in the 200 individual medley on Saturday.

Also pleased with her efforts in Pietermaritzburg was Rebecca Meder, who recently celebrated her 20th birthday at the Commonwealth Games. The Durban star claimed the 100m butterfly title in a B qualifying time of 57.93.

“It’s going very, very well. Coming back from the Commonwealth Games, it’s been racing and straight into racing which is tiring mentally more than physically. Mentally, you just have to think, ‘ok, let’s do it again, let’s keep going,’” she said, also explaining she’s been recovering from a sinus infection. 

As for her decision to drop the 400 individual medley to focus on the butterfly on Friday, Meder added: “I proved at Commonwealths that I’ve got some sprinting speed in me. In short course [in a 25m pool], my underwaters and turns are pretty strong, so I thought, let me go for the 100 fly and see what I can do there. I was just short of the A qualifying time, but it was a massive PB [personal best] for me, so I think I definitely made the right decision.”

In Meder’s absence, it was 17-year-old Dakota Tucker who powered to victory in the 400m individual medley, taking the title in a time of 4:38.16 – also a B qualifying time for the World Championships.

Others to achieve the same feat were fellow teenagers Pieter Coetzé and Ruard van Renen in the 50m backstroke – Coetzé taking the title in 23.80 (just five-hundredths of a second off the A qualifying mark) with Van Renen second in 24.41.

SA Short Course swimming action continues on Saturday in Pietermaritzburg, with the event coming to an end on Sunday, 14 August.

- Swimming South Africa

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