2021 AFRICAN COACH OF THE YEAR: ROCCO MEIRING
For the fourth year in a row, Tuks Swimming Club head coach Rocco Meiring is African Coach of the Year. Based out of South Africa, Meiring’s key protege Tatjana Schoenmaker had an incredible year, breaking the World Record in the LCM 200 breast and winning five of her six Olympic events.
Through Schoenmaker, Meiring has cultivated a name for himself in South Africa not just in swimming, but among all sports. Schoenmaker, now in her fourth consecutive year as African Female Swimmer of the Year, won South Africa’s first gold medal at the Olympics in any sport with her 200 breaststroke. Her earlier silver in the 100 breaststroke was the first Olympic medal for a South African woman in swimming since 2000. She and Kaylene Corbett, who also trains under Meiring, became the first two South Africans since the 2000 Games to make the final in the same event.
Corbett ultimately took fifth in the 200 breast. Meiring clearly possesses an incredible ability to develop world-class breaststrokers, but his coaching doesn’t stop there. Tuks swimmer and 17-year-old Pieter Coetzé swam the 100 back at the Olympics. Just recently, he qualified for the World SC Championships in the backstroke events, among others. He was ultimately unable to travel to the meet due to COVID-19.
Meiring’s year hasn’t been easy. He tested positive for COVID-19 a couple of months before the Olympics, preventing him from overseeing his swimmers’ training for 17 days. In that time, he was hospitalized and put in intensive care for oxygen therapy.
- Eugene Da Ponte: Da Ponte is the head coach of Pretoria Aquatic Club in South Africa, and notably is the coach of swimmer Lara van Niekerk. Van Niekerk broke the South African record in the LCM 50 breast earlier this month.
- Jobrane Touili: Touili coaches our African Male Swimmer of the Year, Ahmed Hafnaoui. Hafnaoui upset the 400 free final at the Olympics to win the gold.