Swimming in Doha: SA swimmers in the background

Henry

It has also happened before that a South African swimming team does poorly at a World Championship series or important event, but then pulls itself together for the Olympic Games.

This year’s Games (swimming) will be held in July and August in Paris and if all goes according to plan, the swimmers will once again be the country’s torch bearers and hope for medals.

Keep an eye on Pieter Coetzé, Matthew Sates, Chad le Clos, Tatjana Schoenmaker-Smith, Lara van Niekerk and Erin Gallagher, maybe they’ll pull a rabbit out of the proverbial hat.

But judging by the current World Championship series in Doha, it’s not a good dress rehearsal.

South Africa, which only sent a small team to Doha, is also doing without Schoenmaker-Smith. So far, the team has only won one bronze medal when Coetzé finished third in the 200 m backstroke.

South Africa, along with a host of other countries, is only 23rd on the medal table with the event ending on Sunday evening.

On Saturday evening, Le Clos and Gallagher could not reach the podium in their respective finals.

Le Clos finished fifth in the finals of the 100 m butterfly in a time of 51.48. The race was won by the new Portuguese superstar Diogo Matos Ribeiro in a time of 51.17 seconds. Simon Bucher of Austria was second (51.28), with Jakub Majerski of Poland third (51.32). He was followed by Nyls Korstanje (Netherlands) in a time of 51.32 and then Le Clos.

In the finals of the women’s 50 m butterfly, South Africa’s Gallagher finished fourth. The 30-year-old Sarah Sjoestrom from Sweden won the gold medal in a time of 24.63 seconds. Melanie Henique of France was second (25.44), followed by Farida Osman of Egypt (25.67).

Van Niekerk (30.28) recorded the fourth fastest time in the heats of the 50 m breaststroke.

Italy’s Benedetta Pilato (29.98) was fastest, followed by Qianting Tang of China (29.93) and Rita Meylutute of Lithuania (30.05), followed by Van Niekerk.

Coetzé recorded the third fastest time in the semi-finals of the 50m backstroke, with the finals to be decided on Sunday evening.