By Karien Jonckheere
GQEBERHA - Just a day earlier Kaylene Corbett left the pool at the SA Swimming Championships here in tears after a below-par performance saw her missing out on the qualifying mark for the Tokyo Olympics in the final of the 200m breaststroke.
But she had another shot at the mark in an individual time trial on Saturday and this time it was a far happier ending, with the World Championships finalist dipping under the qualifying mark in a time of 2:25.18.
Elsewhere, 16-year-old Pieter Coetzé came within touching distance of qualifying for his first Olympic Games after powering to a time of 54.11 seconds in the morning heats of the 100m backstroke, just .26 of a second off the mark for Tokyo.
So all eyes were on the Gauteng teenager as he took to the pool deck for the final. But a disappointing turn cost him, and while he still claimed the national title, he did it in a time of 54.25 – slower than his morning swim.
“I felt amazing in the race but I had a bad turn, my foot slipped. It’s not an excuse but it happens – everyone has their bad races so I’m going to see if I can swim in the relay and ask to get the time there because I’ll be leading off so it will be an official time,” explained Coetzé, who is also hoping to compete at the World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia later this year.
“I would say my focus is still junior world championships because there I’ll actually be fighting for a medal, but just for the experience obviously the Olympics would be amazing. I wouldn’t be a contender or anything, but just for the experience,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, KZN’s Matt Sates added the 400m individual medley to the 100 and 200m freestyle titles he claimed earlier in the week, but also fell short of the Olympic qualifying time, winning in 4:19.38.
“I went out a bit hard… but I learnt from it and we’re moving on,” said Sates afterwards. “Tomorrow is the 100m butterfly and that’s a big one so I’m looking forward to it.”
In the women’s 400m individual medley it was 16-year-old Dakota Tucker who collected the title in 4:50.48, over six seconds ahead of second-placed Samantha Randle.
Pietermaritzburg swimmer Alani Ferreira was thrilled to have swum a Paralympic qualifying time in the SB13 100m breaststroke, while Hendrik van der Merwe did the same in the men’s SB5 event. And Christian Sadie added the 50m butterfly to his ever-growing list of Paralympic qualification marks in the S7 category.