Commonwealth Games: Semifinals Recap – Lara Van Niekerk Sets Second Games Record in 50 Breast

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Lara van Niekerk, right and Tatjana Schoenmaker; Photo Courtesy: Swimming South Africa

Commonwealth Games: Semifinals Recap – Lara Van Niekerk Sets Second Games Record in 50 Breast

For the second time Friday, the opening day of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Lara Van Niekerk set the Games record in the women’s 50 breaststroke.

The South African went 29.82 in the morning prelims to set the mark, then clipped .02 off it in the evening semifinals to set the pace in Saturday’s final.

The full list of semifinal results in four events Friday – the men’s 50 butterfly, women’s 50 breast, men’s 100 backstroke and women’s 100 butterfly – are below.

Men’s 50 Butterfly

Ben Proud is the pace-setter with a time of 23.06. The reigning Commonwealth Games 50 free champ, representing England, grabbed the top seed by .18 seconds. He holds the Games record in the event at 22.93 from the 2014 edition, and his time of 22.76 is third in the world in 2022.

Chasing him is Tzen Wei Teong of Singapore in 23.24. Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter, who won silver in this event at the last competition, is third. Jacob Peters and Josh Liendo tied for fourth in 23.51.

Missing out on the final were Kyle Chalmers (10th in 23.65), Chad le Clos (11th in 23.67) and Cody Simpson (14th in 23.87).

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Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Van Niekerk won the second semifinal heat in her record time. She’s going to take a run at Benedetta Pilato’s world record of 29.30 in Saturday’s final. She has been 29.72 this year.

There are three South Africans in the final. Tatjana Schoenmaker, the reigning Olympic champ in the 200, was fifth, second to England’s Imogen Clark in the first semifinal. Schoenmaker went 30.95 to Clark’s 30.24, which is the second fastest time. Olympian Kaylene Corbett rounds out the final in eighth for South Africa.

Chelsea Hodges and Jenna Strauch, both in Van Niekerk’s heat, were third and fourth, respectively for Australia. They’re joined by Abbey Harkin in seventh.

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Men’s 100 Backstroke

Pieter Coetzee of South Africa led the way in a multinational final that includes five nations represented.

Coetzee led the way in 53.67. He was followed by Brodie Paul Williams of England in 54.00, .01 ahead of New Zealand’s Andrew Jeffcoat, in turn .01 up on Bradley Woodward of Australia.

Mitch Larkin is in the final in sixth, as is Indian record holder Srihari Nataraj in seventh. The top eight are separated by 1.11 seconds.

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Women’s 100 Butterfly

Emma McKeon and Maggie MacNeil remain on a collision course, owning the two central lanes in the final.

MacNeil won the first semifinal heat, the reigning Olympic champ going 57.72. McKeon, who earned silver in Tokyo, won the second heat in 57.49 to take the top seed.

The top six spots in the final are evenly split between Canadians and Australians. Behind McKeon in third is Brianna Throssel, who won bronze in this event four years ago. Alex Perkins is third. (At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Australian won eight of nine female butterfly medals – all but the gold by Wales’ Alys Thomas in the 200.)

Canada grabbed the fifth and sixth seeds, with Katerine Savard in 58.57 and Rebecca Smith .02 back.

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