2021 SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- April 7th – April 10th
- Newton Park, Gqeberha, South Africa
- Olympic Selection Criteria
- Primary Olympic Selection Meet
- LCM Format (50m)
- Live Results
- Live Stream (Youtube)
The 2021 South African National Championships, which will serve as the nation’s primary Olympic selection meet, kicked off at Newton Park in Gqeberha, South Africa. The evening was charged with the adrenaline-boosted finals of the men’s and women’s 50 fly, 50 breast, and 50 back, which are non-Olympic events. In the middle of the events were the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free, which are Olympic events yet did not produce any new Tokyo qualifiers.
Highlighting the session was 23-year-old Tatjana Schoenmaker in the women’s 50 breast, who broke her own South African national record (NR) and African continental record with the winning time of 30.32. During the AM prelims, Schoenmaker first dove under her former mark with a 30.42, shaving a tenth off her 30.52 NR from the 2020 NTS Championships this past December. Schoenmaker is now the 23rd-fastest event performer all-time as well as moving up to No. 2 in the world for the 2020-2021 season.
Placing second to Schoenmaker was 17-year-old Lara van Niekerk at 31.03. She currently holds the 17-year-old event RSA age record at 30.58, also from the 2020 NTS Championships, which ranks 5th in the world this season.
Back in action to win the men’s 50 fly was 28-year-old veteran Chad le Clos, who won the event at 23.72. In order to rank among the top-25 times in the world this season, le Clos would have needed to swim 23.68 or faster. However, le Clos is more known for his event repertoire of the 100/200 free and 100/200 fly. Nailing second place behind the Olympic champion was 17-year-old Matt Sates, clocking in at 24.06. Placing third was 16-year-old Pieter Coetze at 24.14, which takes down the now-retired Zane Waddell‘s 2015 age record of 24.44.
Later on in the session, a trio of 18-year-olds placed top three in the women’s 50 back, all breaking 30 seconds. Winning the event was Olivia Nel (29.13), followed by Rebecca Meder (29.44) and Kerryn Herbst (29.91). Nel’s winning time marks a new 18-year-old RSA age record, taking down Erin Gallagher‘s 2017 record of 29.16.
16-year-old Coetze then flipped over to win the men’s 50 back at 25.02, which chopped a full second off his own age record of 26.02 from the 2020 NTS Championships. During the AM prelims, Coetze cruised to a then-personal best of 25.40. His winning time now ranks 8th in the world this season, passing Aussie Mitch Larkin and Greek Apostolos Christou. Finishing a second-and-a-half over to place runner-up was Ian Venter at 26.58 while Martin Binedell hit the wall third at 26.69.
More Night One Highlights:
- 22-year-old Erin Gallagher won the first event of the meet, the women’s 50 fly, with a time of 26.50, dropping nearly a full second from her prelims swim of 27.45. 20-year-old Inge Weidemann placed second at 26.87 while 26-year-old Tayla Lovemore just missed breaking the 27-barrier at 27.01.
- Winning the distance events on night one were 16-year-old Leigh McMorran in the women’s 800 free (8:54.65), dropping seven seconds from her seed time, and 21-year-old Roberto Gomes in the men’s 1500 free (15:49.02).
- Alaric Basson was the men’s 50 breast champion at 28.09, touching ahead of Jared Pike and Brenden Crawford, who tied for second place at 28.22.