arena Swim of the Week: Matt Sates Closes Impressive Double With Fractured Wrist

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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.

South Africa’s Matt Sates has been making some noise on the World Cup circuit this month, reminding everyone he’s a force to be reckoned with after he sat out of the 2023 World Championships.

The 20-year-old has won five events through the first two stops of the series, including going back-to-back in the men’s 200 fly and 200 IM in Berlin and Athens to position himself to take a run at the “Triple Crown” bonus at the finale in Budapest.

The rub to Sates winning the 200 fly and 200 IM at both legs of the series is that they occur during the same session, with the 200 IM coming some 38 minutes before the 200 fly last week in Athens.

On top of that, Sates revealed that he fractured his wrist on the opening day in Athens, but after it felt alright in warm-up, he pushed on with the 200 IM and 200 fly double on Day 2.

“Last night’s race I fractured my wrist, so I wasn’t sure how I would swim,” Sates said. “But it felt OK in warm-up and honestly I didn’t feel it in either race tonight. I’m really happy to come away winning both the 200 IM and the 200 fly tonight.”

After rolling to the 200 IM victory in a time of 1:58.86, within a second and a half of his personal best (1:57.43), Sates came back less than 40 minutes later with a very impressive performance in the 200 fly.

Sates was 3rd at the halfway mark, and pulled into the lead with 50 meters to go after splitting 30.27 down the penultimate lap, but the race was still close with Hungarian Richard Marton and American Trenton Julian less than half a second back.

But just like he did in Berlin, Sates dropped the hammer on the last 50, splitting 29.46 to run away with the victory in 1:55.44, lowering his personal best of 1:55.87 from Berlin.

In Berlin, he executed a similar strategy, closing in 29.47.

Prior to the World Cup, Sates’ best time in the event stood at 1:56.34, set at the Acropolis Open in May where he also managed to come home sub-30.

Split Comparison

2023 Acropolis Open 2023 World Cup – Berlin 2023 World Cup – Athens
26.30 25.97 25.96
55.65 (29.35) 55.82 (29.85) 55.71 (29.75)
1:26.42 (30.77) 1:26.40 (30.58) 1:25.98 (30.27)
1:56.34 (29.92) 1:55.87 (29.47) 1:55.44 (29.46)

Although Sates has predominantly been a better short course swimmer than he is in long course thus far in his career, his performance on the World Cup circuit indicates he’s finding his footing in the Olympic-sized pool with Paris 2024 on the horizon.

At the 2023 World Championships, it took 1:54.97 to make the 200 fly final. With a full taper and no 200 IM shortly beforehand, that should be well within reach for Sates.

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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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