#TuksSport: Tuks swimmers impressed at the 2024 World Aquatics Champs in Doha

Posted on February 18, 2024

A medal and African and South African records prove that UP-Tuks swimmers performed well at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Coetzé won bronze in the 200-meter backstroke. The way he swam those last 50 metres is what champions are made from. To come back from eighth to third took some genuine guts. Equally impressive is competing in all three backstroke finals. It was the first time the 19-year-old competed at a senior world championship. 

Last year in Japan, Tatjana Schoenmaker of Tuks, won South Africa's only two medals (gold in the 200 m breaststroke and silver in the 100 m breaststroke).

Coetzé finished fourth in the 50-meter backstroke final. He missed out by 0.15s on winning the bronze. The Australian Isaac Cooper claimed the gold in 24.13 seconds, the American Hunter Armstrong took the silver in 24.33 seconds, and Poland's Ksawery Masiuk took the bronze in 24.44 seconds. Coetzé swam 24.59s.

In the 100-metre backstroke final, he finished fifth. Unfortunately, he hit the rope a few times. It is interesting to note that the times he swam in the heats and the semifinals would have seen him clinching a bronze medal. 

Asked what he's learned from these championships, Coetzé added, "Mostly on the mental side, I've learned what state I should be in and what expectations I should and shouldn't have. I have picked up on a few things in my technique that I have to work on.

"These 'worlds' were always going to be a preparation competition for the Paris Olympics. It's very early in the year. Generally, at this time of year, I'm not racing, just training. So, it was something new for my body that I wasn't used to. The whole SA team is not used to that, so we're all very excited for the next few months, and hopefully, we can peak at the right time."

Erin Gallagher of Tuks came within a fingertip of winning a bronze medal in the 50-meter butterfly. She finished fourth in 25.69s. Her continental rival, Farida Ousman (Egypt), claimed bronze in 25.67s. Sweden's Sarah Sjöström took the gold in 24.63s, and France's Melanie Henique took the silver in 25.44s.
Gallagher set an African record in the 100-meter butterfly swimming in 57.69s. She was seventh in the final. 

Tayla Jonker set a new South African record in the 50-metre backstroke. The 19-year-old finished fourth in her heat in a time of 28.37 seconds. Doing so, she bettered the mark set by Olivia Nel during last year's national championships. She also booked a place in her first-ever World Championship semi-final. Jonker was eighth in the semifinals. 

Hannah Pearse also made her first appearance in a World Championships semifinal. The 20-year-old finished fifth in her 200-meter backstroke heat. In the semifinal, she swam 2:13.29 to finish 8th.

Clayton Jimmie produced a personal best performance to win his 50-metre freestyle heat in 22.33 seconds. It was not quick enough to see him through to the semifinal. 

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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