arena Swim of the Week: 16-Year-Old Tai Pearson Hits 1:56.8 SCM 200 Fly In South Africa

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

With college and club teams alike gearing up for the 2023-24 short course season, there’s not a lot of racing going on in the U.S. right now, but that doesn’t mean things have stopped around the world.

Over in Cape Town, South Africa, the South African National Short Course Championships ran last weekend, with the two-day competition taking place at the Generation Swimming Academy.

Among the standout performers at the competition was Tai Pearson, a 16-year-old out of the Cape Town-based Vineyard Swimming Club.

Pearson’s top swim came in the 200 butterfly, where he put up a time of 1:56.84 to crush his own WCA (Western Cape) Record by nearly two seconds.

Pearson had previously been 1:58.59 just over one month prior at the WCA SC Championships.

In his swim this past weekend, Pearson went out much more aggressively relative to what he did in July, turning over three seconds quicker at the 100 before hanging on on the last 50.

Split Comparison

Pearson, July 2023 Pearson, August 2023
26.39 25.09
57.26 (30.87) 54.10 (29.01)
1:27.94 (30.68) 1:24.55 (30.45)
1:58.59 (30.65) 1:56.84 (32.29)

Pearson also set new Western Cape Records in the 50 fly (24.37), 100 fly (52.70) and 200 IM (2:00.92).

In the 100 fly, he lowered his own record of 53.21 from July, while in the 200 IM, he took out his month-old record of 2:02.02.

The 50 fly saw him knock off the previous mark of 25.47 set by Wikus Potgieter in 2021.

Potgieter, who also represents Vineyard, won the boys’ 18-year-old event in 24.51, breaking the 2021 WCA record of 24.98 held by Ruard Van Renen.

Pearson represented South Africa at the Berlin leg of the 2022 FINA World Cup, and was also a member of the bronze medal-winning South African 800 free relay at the 2022 CANA African Championships (LCM) last August.

Pearson will join club teammates Taylor LuckCassidy Burgess and coach Rhys Hugo with the South African contingent at the upcoming World Junior Swimming Championships (Sept. 4-9) in Netanya, Israel.

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5 months ago

Well done 💪🏼

Rhys Hugo
5 months ago

Thanks for the article SwimSwam

5 months ago

He really took fly and die to heart

Reply to  Swimmingrules
5 months ago

Would like to see you doing it 😀

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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