Rising SA swimming sensation Matt Sates from Pietermaritzburg claimed his first World Championships and Commonwealth Game qualification time on day two of the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha on Thursday night.
The 18-year-old, who has been setting the U.S. college circuit alight for the University of Georgia, won the 200 m freestyle title in an impressive 1:46,15 to ensure he’s up for selection for the major championships later in the year.
“It was a good one. It’s my first gala long course since Olympics so I’m still getting used to it … but the more racing I do, the faster I’ll get,” he said afterwards.
Sates admitted to struggling with a shoulder injury, which kept him out of the 400 m individual medley, which was also swum on Thursday, as well as the 200 m butterfly.
Visiting British swimmer Max Litchfield was second in the 200 m freestyle in 1:49,49. Later in the evening Litchfield sped to victory in the 400 m individual medley — the event in which he finished joint fourth at the Tokyo Olympics — in 4:15,39, ahead of South Africa’s 10 km open-water champion Ruan Breytenbach, who was second in 4:27,14.
Meanwhile, Olympic semi-finalist Emma Chelius just missed out on the qualification mark for the 50 m freestyle by four hundredths of a second, claiming the title in 25,08 ahead of Erin Gallagher (25,39).
“I felt really good. It’s definitely the fastest I’ve been since Tokyo so that’s always good to come back off quite an exceptional year last year and manage to get so close to that qualifying time,” said Chelius, who set a new South African record of 24,64 in the Olympic semi-finals last year.
In the men’s 100 m breaststroke it was Brenden Crawford who got the better of U.S.-based Michael Houlie, winning in a time of 1:01,00 to Houlie’s 1:01,56.
Rebecca Meder took top honours in the 100 m backstroke in 1:02,55 to add to the 400 m individual medley title she bagged on Wednesday.
Swimming at the Newton Park Swimming Pool continues until April 11.