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Top swimmers qualify for Olympics in Gqeberha pool


It was a successful week of the South African Swimming Championships in Gqeberha after five swimmers managed to swim Olympic qualifying times at the Newton Park Swimming Pool.

The sensational teen Pieter Coetzé wrapped up the tournament with his fifth gold medal on Saturday.

Coetzé admitted afterward that a long week of racing had taken its toll.

"I was feeling tired before the race. I was sitting in the ready room yawning, but I'm just glad to get the win tonight," he said.

Fellow Olympian Erin Gallagher added a third national title to her list of accolades by outracing Caitlin de Lange in the 50m freestyle.

Gallagher lit up the venue on Friday evening when she swam her best time in the 100m butterfly.

"This is one of the best times I have swam thus far. Even though I improved my personal best by split seconds, the most important thing is that we improve," she added.

Olympic record holder Tatjana Smith claimed several gold and silver medals despite a groin injury.

"I was not completely cleared to compete in this competition, but because I am so competitive I decided to come anyway.

"I am proud of the times I swam here because I was not applying any pressure on myself to swim better and faster," Smith added.

Chad le Clos, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Thursday, was delighted to share the 1st place in the men's 100m butterfly with youngster Matt Sates in a nail-biting race.

"It's just a pity I couldn't better my times during this competition.

"It shows I have a mountain of work lying ahead of me.

"I am not ready for Paris yet, but I am sure that with hard work I will be where I need to be."

Sates also collected his fourth gold in the men's 200m individual medley in 1:59.98 to add to the 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly titles he claimed earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Para swimmers also wrapped up a successful championship with two more outstanding performances on Saturday.

Kat Swanepoel climbed to the top of the world rankings in the S4 50m backstroke after finishing in 48.14 seconds in the morning heats and then went even quicker with a time of 47.16 seconds in the evening final.

Christian Sadie, who already qualified in the S7 50m butterfly on Friday, bettered that mark in a time trial on Saturday, swimming 29.97 seconds to rise to second spot in the world rankings.