2023 Swammy Awards: African Coach of the Year – Rocco Meiring

by Sean Griffin 0

December 28th, 2023 2023 Swammy Awards, Africa, News

See all of our 2023 Swammy Awards here.

African Coach of the Year: Rocco Meiring

For the sixth straight year, Rocco Meiring is the winner of the Swammy Award for African Coach of the Year. Meiring guided his athletes to more success in 2023, building upon the record-breaking performances from the previous two years.

Meiring, who leads the Tuks Swimming Club in South Africa, led Tatjana Schoenmaker to a gold medal in the 200 breaststroke at the Fukuoka World Championships. Her time of 2:20.80 cleared the field by about half a second and marked the first world title of her career. Schoenmaker did not swim at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, as she focused on the Commonwealth Games where she claimed gold in the same event (2:21.92).

In addition to her victory in the 200 breaststroke in Fukuoka, Schoenmaker added a silver in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.84) earlier in the meet, while also adding two faster swims in the earlier rounds: 1:05.56 in the heats and 1:05.53 in the semifinals.

While her performances in Fukuoka were beyond impressive, perhaps her best swim of the year came just a few weeks ago. At the South African Trials for the 2024 World Championships, the 26-year-old clocked a pair of 2:20.3 swims in the 200 breast (2:20.35 in the heats, 2:20.30 in the final) to book her ticket to Doha in February. Those swims represent the 5th and 6th fastest times of her career, and her fastest since winning the gold medal in Tokyo.

Pieter Coetze, who won the World Junior title in the 200 backstroke last year, also trains under the tutelage of Meiring. Coetze did not compete at the World Championships this summer as he told SwimSwam it did not fit into his 2024 preparation.

Despite not attending the World Championships, Coetze swept the backstroke events at the South African National Championships in April. The 100 back was the clear highlight, where he ripped a time of 52.78 to take down the national record in the event. He also added wins in the 50 (24.36 – personal best) and 200 (1:56.66).

On the international stage, Coetze was in action at the World Cup series, which included a win in the 200 back at the Athens stop (1:56.32). He also competed at the European U23 Championships prior to the World Cup, where he touched 1st in the 50 and 100 back, and grabbed 2nd in the 200 back on the first night.

A new addition to Meiring’s group this past year was Matthew Sates, who showed promising signs of returning to form in the long course pool. He added several wins throughout the World Cup series this year, highlighted by best times in the 100 fly (51.66) and 200 fly (1:55.25).

The 20-year-old also picked up wins in the 200 IM (1:57.78) and 400 IM (4:14.73) at the LEN U23 European Championships. His season-best times in those two events (1:57.72/4:13.38) from the World Cup ranked 17th and 23rd in the world this year, while his 200 fly PB ranked 21st.

Erin Gallagher and Tokyo Olympic finalist Kaylene Corbett were also training under Meiring this year and recently booked their tickets to the Doha World Championships. Gallagher clocked 58.11 in the 100 fly and Corbett hit the wall in 2:25.12 for the 200 breast at the recent South African Trials.

Honorable Mention:

  • Eugene Da Ponte – Da Ponte, who trains breaststroke star Lara Van Niekerk, led her to a 4th-place finish in the 50 breaststroke at the Fukuoka World Championships. Van Niekerk, who won bronze in 2022, stopped the clock in 30.09. Van Niekerk placed 17th in the heats of the event (30.76), almost missing out on a second swim before her teammate Tatjana Schoenmaker dropped out. Van Niekerk owns a best time of 29.72 in the event from April of 2022.

Past Winners:

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