Smith sets world leading-time in the 200m-breaststroke at SA Champs

aquatics11 April 2024 10:56| © SuperSport
By:Wilhelm de Swardt
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Tatjana Smith © Gallo Images

Tatjana Smith proved last night during the South African Swimming Championships in Gqeberha that happiness equated to fast times when she won the 200m breaststroke in 2:19.01.

The Tuks swimmer missed out on a mere 0.06 seconds, swimming a faster time than the world record she set during the 2021 Olympic Games. She won gold in Tokyo swimming 2:18.95.

Last night's performance places her at the top of the world this year, overtaking American Kate Douglass (2:19.30) and Dutchwoman Tes Schouten (2:19.81). Coming in second was Smith's training partner and fellow Olympic finalist Kaylene Corbett (Tuks), in a time of 2:23.71. Both swimmers qualified for the Paris Olympic Games.

Afterwards, Smith joked, saying that if her fingernails were a bit longer, she might have set a new personal best as she would have touched the "wall" earlier.

On a more serious note, she added, "I don't know what to say. But I can't be upset. It is so close to the world record I set."

As the magnitude of what she had achieved set in, Smith got slightly emotional.

"I never thought I would get to be swimming such fast times again. But I always said a happy swimmer is a fast swimmer. My results are showing it. I genuinely can take confidence in my training. Over the past two years, I have seen excellent times in training, but it did not match up with my racing. Emotionally, it took its toll.

"My goal now, every time I race, is to enjoy the experience and execute my technique flawlessly. Racing should not only be about results. It is more important to be happy when I leave the pool."

Corbett was ecstatic about her performance.

"It is the fastest I have swam since the Tokyo Olympic Games. I have achieved what I set out to do at this championship. That is to book my ticket for the Paris Games."

Also registering another Olympic qualifying time on Wednesday was Pieter Coetzé, who claimed the 200m backstroke title in a new personal best time of 1:55.85. It is the third gold medal he has won so far. He also won the 50m-backstroke and the 100m-freestyle.

The other Tuks swimmers who won gold last night were Hannah Pearse (200m-backstroke - 2:12.19)and Matthew Randle (200m-breaststroke - 2:14.01). Callan Lotter won bronze in the 200m freestyle (2:02.10).