By Karien Jonckheere
Durban — Lara van Niekerk completed a clean sweep of the breaststroke events while Pieter Coetzé did the same in the men’s backstroke on the final day of the SA Grand Prix meet in Durban on Sunday.
After achieving a personal best in the 100m breaststroke, Van Niekerk once again showed her early-season form, powering to victory in the 50m breaststroke in 30.59. She then followed that up with a win in the 200m breaststroke in 2:29.10.
“It was fun, I enjoyed it,” said Van Niekerk, who is known more for the sprint events rather than the 200m. “I did die a bit more than last night, but it was fun overall.”
Having claimed the 100m backstroke title on Saturday, Coetzé also took comfortable victories in the 50m backstroke in 25.03 and 200m backstroke in an impressive 1:59.73 on Sunday.
“I’m happy with the time. I just tried to get from the one side of the pool to the other side as fast as I could so it was good,” said Coetzé after his 50m victory.
Both swimmers will be eager to build on this form, heading into the SA National Championships in April and then Commonwealth Games later in the year.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Meder added two more titles to her haul, sharing victory in the 100m freestyle with fellow Olympian Emma Chelius after both swimmers touched the wall in 56.43 and then claiming top honours in the 400m freestyle in 4:19.51.
“I think you always try to end the race pretty strong and that’s a good sign for my 400IM,” said Meder afterwards. “I haven’t raced the 400m freestyle in quite a while so I’m happy with the time. A bit faster would have been better but I’m really happy with the weekend of racing that I’ve had.”
Ross Hartigan also racked up two more victories, claiming 100m butterfly honours in 55.66 and then diving back into the pool a few minutes later to wrap up the 200m individual medley title in 2:05.97.
“I definitely think I’m getting too old to do so many races in one weekend,” said the 23-year-old TUKS swimmer. “But I’m completely ecstatic with that time. It’s faster than yesterday. It definitely didn’t feel as comfortable as yesterday but I’m really happy to have gone 2:05,” added Hartigan, who also claimed victory in the 200m butterfly on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Durban swimmer Connor Buck followed up his dominant victory at the aQuellé Midmar Mile a week earlier with a win in the 1500m freestyle in 15:45.62.
In the other men’s events, there were also victories for Danté Nortjé in the 200m freestyle in 1:53.05 and Clayton Jimmie in the 50m freestyle in 23.44, while Brenden Crawford added the 100m breaststroke to his 50m breaststroke title from Saturday after winning in 1:01.28.
In the women’s events, Catherine van Rensburg followed up her 800m freestyle victory on Saturday with a win in the 400m individual medley in 5:03.91. Kerryn Herbst took the 100m backstroke title in 1:03.76, Leigh McMorran won the 200m butterfly in 2:18.37 and Inge Weidemann took top honours in the 50m butterfly in 27.54.
The next major meet for the country’s top swimmers will be the SA National Championships from 6-11 April in Gqeberha.