Emma Chelius Gets Under FINA A & South African Record With 24.72 50 Free


The 2021 South African National Championships wrapped up on Monday, April 12th. The meet served as the country’s Olympic qualifier with those placing 1st and 2nd with a time faster than the FINA A standard.

While no swimmers were faster than the FINA A in their respective individual events during the finals session on day 6, Emma Chelius managed to get under the mark in the prelims of the event. Chelius hit a 24.72 prelim swim which is 0.05 faster than the 24.77 cut. Chelius followed up with a 25.00 to win the event, touching ahead of Erin Gallagher (25.51) and Inge Weidemann (25.58) for silver and bronze.

That swim for Chelius is a new national record, undercutting Erin Gallagher‘s former mark of 24.95 to win gold at the 2019 African Games. Chelius’ 24.72 SA record will give her consideration to be nominated to the team and should be enough to get her to Tokyo as it marks the fastest swim by a South African woman thus far in the Olympic qualification period of March 1, 2019 – June 27, 2021.

The African Record still belongs to Egypt’s Farida Osman, who was 24.62 at the 2017 World Championships.

The second swimmer who got under the FINA A standard was 16-year-old Pieter Coetzé who hit a 53.62 on the backstroke leg of the 4×100 medley relay. That swim is just under the Olympic selection standard for the event of 53.85. Coetzé’s swim was a solid improvement from his performance in the individual 100 backstroke at the meet in which he posted a 54.25 to win the final.

Another storyline during tonight’s final was the conclusion of 17-year-old Matthew Sates‘ efforts to qualify for the Olympic team as he raced to victory in the 200 IM. Sates was within an inch of the selection cut, posting a 1:59.69 which is just 0.02 seconds over the 1:59.67 he needed.

That makes 5 events where Sates got within striking distance of the FINA A but didn’t quite hit the standard:

Event FINA A Sates’ Swim At 2021 SA Nationals
100 freestyle 48.57 49.29
200 freestyle 1:47.02 1:48.08
1oo butterfly 51.96 52.15
200 IM 1:59.67 1:59.69
400 IM 4:15.84 4:19.38

Despite not swimming under the standard, the South African selection criteria leaves open the possibility that Sates will still be chosen to represent the country in Tokyo as he was under the Olympic Selection Time (“B” cut) standards in all of the events.

In the women’s 200 IM, Rebecca Meder swam the top time of 2:13.66 while Aimee Canny and Dakota Tucker also found their way to the podium with a 2:17.54 and 2:17.83, respectively. The swim for Meder was just a second slower than the 2:12.56 FINA A cut.

As for the men’s 50 freestyle, Doug Erasmus out-swam the field, fposting a 23.01 in the finals which is exactly a second slower than the 22.01 FINA A. Erasmus was actually slower than the 22.95 he posted in the prelims which was the only sub-23 of the meet. Ryan Coetzee swam a 23.07 in the finals for silver while Clayton Jimmie was a 23.22 for bronze.

The last day of racing at 2021 Nationals also featured the women’s 1500 freestyle and the men’s 800. In the 1500, 16-year-old Leigh McMorran posted the top time of 16:53, improving upon her seed time of 16:53.22 while trailing the FINA A standard of 16:32.04. On the men’s side, Brent Szurdoki swam an 8:08.11 to win the event, 14 seconds slower than the Olympic selection cut of 7:54.31.


  • Men’s 50 backstroke S14&15: Ethan Paulse (33.11)
  • Men’s 50 backstroke S1&13: Matthew Moss (35.37)
  • Women’s 50 backstroke S14&15: Michaela Kretzen (40.38)
  • Women’s 50 backstroke S1&13: Katelyn Marais (42.19)
  • Men’s 100 freestyle S14&15: Ethan Paulse (1:01.22)
  • Men’s 100 freestyle S1&13: James Willers (1:08.61)
  • Women’s 100 freestyle S14&15: Michaela Kretzen (1:11.72)
  • Women’s 100 freestyle S1&13: Kat Swanepoel (1:56.77)

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6 months ago

The Saffas really have some impressive young talents in Du Preez, Sates & Coetzé.

Last edited 6 months ago by Dee
Reply to  Dee
4 months ago

The future looks bright. The 1yr delay for Tokyo has served them very well.