Young SA swim squad head to Spain with enough medals in the bag

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Olympians Matthew Sates from Seals in Pietermaritzburg (left) and Pieter Coetzé from Tuks in Gauteng were among the leading participants at the SA Short Course Swimming Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
Olympians Matthew Sates from Seals in Pietermaritzburg (left) and Pieter Coetzé from Tuks in Gauteng were among the leading participants at the SA Short Course Swimming Championships in Pietermaritzburg.

A youthful and ambitious South African swimming squad headed by Matthew Sates from Pietermaritzburg will take a bag full of medals to the second leg of the Mare Nostrum series in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.

This after Sates and company performed extremely well in the opening leg in Monaco at the weekend.

They pulled in six medals on Saturday and six more on Sunday, including five golds and a meet record, according to Swimming SA.

Sates won the 400m individual medley in 4:12,74, almost five seconds ahead of Britain’s Olympic fourth-place finisher in Tokyo, Max Litchfield, on Sunday night.

Sates then added another gold in the 200 m freestyle by powering home in 1:46,69, with Brazil’s Fernando Scheffer second in 1:47,48.

Sates said in a statement:

“Coming to Monaco has really been a treat, especially racing against so many people like Olympic finalists and Olympic medallists, and competing with them. It’s always nice to have that extra experience.”

Gauteng’s Pieter Coetzé followed suit in the 200 m backstroke, the 18-year-old holding off 100 m backstroke gold medallist Yohann Ndoye-Brouard to take the title in 1:58,71. The Frenchman was second in 1:58,91.

Coetzé returned to the pool later in the evening for the final two-man showdown of the 50 m backstroke skins and outgunned Ndoye-Brouard (24,96) again in 24,81 seconds to take another gold.

Also on Sunday, young breaststroker Lara van Niekerk won a 50 m knockout skins format. She powered to victory almost a second ahead of Sweden’s Sophie Hansson in the final in a meet record time of 29,90 seconds.

In another exciting duel, veteran Chad le Clos was once again pipped to the post by Switzerland’s Noe Ponti, this time in the 100 m butterfly.

Ponti claimed the gold in a time of 51,76, just three hundredths of a second ahead of the South African who had to settle for another silver.

After Barcelona in midweek, the third and final leg of the Mare Nostrum series takes place in Canet, France, at the weekend.

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