Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist


Butterfly star Gallagher breaks another record at national champs

Gallagher set a new mark in the women's 100m butterfly final.


Erin Gallagher shone on Friday night, while Chad le Clos settled for a rare share of a national title and Tatjana Smith picked up another gold medal on the penultimate day of the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha.

Gallagher, who broke her own South African record in the 50m butterfly earlier in the week, delivered again with another national mark in the women’s 100m butterfly final.

She touched the wall in 57.32, stopping the clock nearly three seconds ahead of Trinity Hearne who grabbed the silver medal in 1:00.05.

Swimming back

While she was delighted with her result, Gallagher repeated the sentiments of multiple swimmers this week, with the organisers having placed the results scoreboard so far back that swimmers were forced to swim in reverse to see their results from the pool.

“It’s definitely unreal, but the worst part is touching the wall and hearing everyone scream, and you have to swim back another 25 metres just to see what your time was,” Gallagher said with a smile.

“But the time was absolutely amazing, and I’m so grateful to my teammates and my coaches.”

Le Clos v Sates

Meanwhile, four-time Olympic medallist Le Clos was pushed all the way to the line by 20-year-old Matthew Sates in the 100m butterfly final, with both men sharing gold in 52.07.

“I’ve said it all week. This 100m fly is more stressful than the Olympic final. It was a derby day for me and Matt, and of course we’re brothers when we race for South Africa, but tonight was a tough race,” Le Clos said.

Le Clos, who turned 32 on the day, was still hoping to put up a fight at the Olympic Games in Paris later this year. But he hoped the likes of Sates and Pieter Coetze, who had already bagged four medals earlier in the week, would continue to fly the national flag if he was unable to continue competing at the highest level of the sport.

“I thought we would both be a little faster, but I’ll take a shared title together,” Le Clos said.

“We’ve had a lot of tight races over the last three years and he (Sates) is a star. Hopefully he takes the baton, and he and Pieter (Coetze) ride with it all the way. I’m very happy.”

Tatjana Smith

Smith, meanwhile, won the women’s 100m breaststroke final in 1:05.48, securing her second gold medal of the national championships and again dipping under the Olympic qualifying standard over two lengths.

She didn’t have much trouble shaking off former 50m World Championship bronze medallist Lara van Niekerk (1:07.16) and Kaylene Corbett (1:07.83).

“It’s been a long journey to get where I am now and I’m just grateful it’s happening in the year of the Olympics,” said Smith.

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Chad le Clos swimming Tatjana Schoenmaker