Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Tough day in the pool for SA swimming team

Tayla Jonker set a new SA record in the 50m backstroke heats but could not find a place in the final.

While a national record was broken in the morning session on Wednesday, it was not a memorable day for the SA swimming team, who struggled to put up a fight on day four of action in the pool at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

Matthew Sates settled for last place in the men’s 200m butterfly final last night before bombing out in the semifinals of the 200m medley.

In the 200m butterfly contest, Sates was well off the pace, taking eighth position in 1:57.23, with Tomoru Honda of Japan breaking clear at the front of the field to win gold in 1:53.88.

Less than 40 minutes later, Sates was back in the pool for the semifinals of the 200m medley, an event in which he is the reigning short-course world champion.

He again fell short of expectations, however, ending 16th overall in 2:01.21 and missing out on a place in tonight’s final.

Earlier, in the morning heats, the 20-year-old prospect had taken 10th position in 2:00.28 to progress to the penultimate round.

Jonker breaks SA record

While Sates was unable to find top gear, there was some consolation for Tayla Jonker, though she too could not find a place in the medal race in the women’s 50m backstroke.

In the first-round heats, 19-year-old Jonker was 12th overall in 28.37, slicing 0.02 off the South African record (28.39) which had been set by Olivia Nel at the national championships in Gqeberha last year.

Later, in the semifinals, Jonker ended in a tie for 15th spot in 28.48 and was eliminated ahead of the final.

In other events in the morning session, there was disappointment for veteran Chad le Clos who finished 18th in the 100m freestyle heats in 49.04, touching the wall 0.11 outside a place in the semifinals.

The national mixed 4x100m medley relay team – Pieter Coetze, Lara van Niekerk, Erin Gallagher and Clayton Jimmie – were 10th in the opening round in 3:48.03 and fell short of a spot in the final.

Three SA swimmers will be in action on Thursday morning, including two individuals who have already shown good form this week.

Teenager Pieter Coetze, who was fifth in the 100m backstroke final, will turn out in the 200m backstroke heats, while Erin Gallagher, who was seventh in the 100m butterfly final, will line up in the women’s 100m freestyle heats.

Matthew Randle will make his first appearance at the global spectacle when he competes in the first round of the 200m breaststroke.

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