Pietermaritzburg swimming sensation Matthew Sates heads to the Midmar Mile in high spirits after he edged his idol and Olympian Chad le Clos twice at the Grand Prix swim meet that took place at the King’s Park pool in Durban last weekend.
The Midmar Mile is scheduled to take place on Sunday with only the top 20 men and women elite swimmers taking part at the open water swim event at the Midmar Dam in Howick.
The organisers of the open water swim have been forced to call off other parts of the events because Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife had not approved the Event Management Plan by Wednesday.
Sates’ coach Wayne Riddin said the youngster is one of the few swimmers who will take to the dam on Sunday after the 17-year-old Seals member was able to get some solid training in alongside Le Clos for almost six weeks as they prepare for the Olympic trials that will take place in Port Elizabeth in April.
Du Preez clocks Olympic qualifier
But it was training partner Ethan du Preez who got the meet underway with the biggest upset and an Olympic qualifying time.
Du Preez and Le Clos started the meet off with the men’s 200m butterfly where the Olympic gold medallist started off slightly ahead before Du Preez edged ahead shortly after the first turn.
Le Clos tried hard to chase him down but was not able to catch a fired-up Du Preez who clocked an Olympic qualifying time in 1:56,16 with Le Clos ending in 1:57,88.
Du Preez and Sates have been able to train alongside Le Clos a few times a week since January, especially in the 50m long course pool at King’s Park and Curro High School in Hillcrest in preparation for the looming trials.
Sates got his tournament underway with a solid 400m individual medley over five seconds ahead of Ayrton Sweeney, clocking a fast 4:18,93 – just three seconds off the Olympic mark.
Sates also tackled the 200m individual medley where he clocked 2:02,03 before tackling Le Clos for the first time in the 100m butterfly.
Turning together at the 50m mark, Sates picked up the pace to edge out Le Clos by 0.56 seconds for the first time in his career to clock 52,11 sec — just 0,15 seconds off the Olympic qualifying time of 51,96.
The two were back at it within an hour in the 200m freestyle where they raced stroke for stroke until the final length before Sates produced a faster finish to win by 0,59 in an excellent 1:49,58.
Not being happy with his 200m individual medley to start the day, Sates took this event on in a time trial where he was significantly faster in 2:00,70 — closing in on the Olympic mark of 1:59,67.
The final day on Sunday saw Sates lead home the 100m freestyle with another solid performance in 50,26 before attempting another 100m butterfly time trial.
Out on his own after a hard racing three days, Sates finished with a time just slightly off his Saturday swim against Le Clos, clocking 52,23, but again close to the Olympic time required.