Close to 300 swimmers, including several who competed at the recent Tokyo Olympics, have converged on Pietermaritzburg to compete at the SA Short Course Championships from 15-19 September 2021.
Many of them will be gunning for qualifying times for the rescheduled FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi from 16-21 December 2021.
South Africans have traditionally excelled in the short course format, contested in a 25m pool, with the nation’s swimmers claiming a total of seven medals – three of them gold – at the last world championships held in China in 2018.
Inspired by his recent trip to Tokyo, where he reached the Olympic semi-final of the 200m individual medley, Matt Sates is relishing the opportunity to compete on home turf. The Maritzburg swimmer has a busy few days ahead as he plans to swim in 12 events.
“After the Olympics I took a nice break that was needed desperately,” explained the 18-year-old. “I don’t like the breaks, but they are needed to be able to finish the test strong at short course worlds. But I’m excited to put what I learnt at the Olympics into SA short course and put on a show.
“It has inspired me in a way that lets me know that I’m on a good path for now.”
Speaking about last year’s SA Short Course Championships where he collected an impressive eight gold medals, Sates added: “My results last year were very pleasing to me, but to be honest it doesn’t matter what I did last year because this year is going to be next level.”
Another swimmer feeling motivated by her recent trip to Tokyo is 19-year-old Rebecca Meder, who will be competing in seven events in Maritzburg.
“I am swimming quite a few races this week. The main ones being the 100IM, 200IM and the 400IM,” said the Durban swimmer. “I think I am swimming seven races in total and my goal is to be solid and fast on each and every swim. I have set myself some really quick goal times which I am hoping to achieve.
“Last year’s SA short course was SA’s first big national competition after lockdown,” she added. “It was exciting and most of us didn’t know what to expect when it came to our racing and the possible times we could swim. I am looking forward to racing this year as I know what my body is capable of doing this time round. Plus, I love racing short course.”
Speaking about what she gained from her Olympic experience, Meder added: “I am still feeling sparky and race ready after swimming in Tokyo.
“Having experienced the top level of swimming in the world, I am so motivated to be faster, stronger and better. We race – that’s what swimming is all about. My eyes have been opened to different skills and techniques of doing things, not just swimming, but the boldness, the bravery and tenacity it takes to be at the top. This is the level I want to be competitive in, and to get there starts with having that mentality when racing back at home.”
Racing at the GC Jolliffe pool in Pietermaritzburg gets under way at 5pm on Wednesday, 15 September and will continue until Sunday, 19 September.
Pictured here - Matt Sates