Coetzee: It’s best for me to go to the US
In the past, three other SA swimmers who trained there all became Olympians. They are former SA men’s 200m breaststroke record holder Neil Versfeld, Sarah Poewe who represented SA and Germany at the Games as well as Wendy Trott who swam for SA in Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
Apart from these three, there are a host of SA swimmers who over the years have turned to the United States to launch their way to international stardom. The name Ryk Neethling (University of Arizona) readily springs to mind.
“There were a lot of things I had to take into consideration, but in the end, I realised the best for me would be to go to the USA,” said Coetzee, who has next year’s Olympics in her sights.
The 18-year-old Coetzee is the reigning SA women’s 400m freestyle and 200m fly stroke champion. She has yet to qualify for next year’s Games, but she feels it is well within her grasp and knows what she needs to do.
She has identified the 200m butterfly event as her best bet to clock an Olympic qualifying time. She and her coach Linda de Jager know which areas of her performance need to show improvement.
“I need to improve on my kick. It is of cardinal importance when competing in the butterfly,” said Coetzee.
“If I can improve on my endurance, it won’t be a bad thing. To be genuinely competitive means you can never afford to rest on your laurels. There is always something in your technique that can improve.”
Coetzee is at the University of Pretoria and trains in the same pool as the celebrated Tatjana Schoenmaker at Tuks Swimming Club. Schoenmaker has been a source of inspiration for Coetzee for some time now.
“Tatjana is not only my friend. She is a mentor,” Coetzee said in an interview some time ago.