Commonwealth Champ Pieter Coetze Commits to Swimming in College at Cal

Pieter Coetze
Pieter Coetze -- Photo Courtesy: Swimming South Africa

Pieter Coetze Commits to Swimming in College at Cal

An already-elite international swimmer is heading to Berkeley, Calif., to join coach Dave Durden’s California Golden Bears. Pieter Coetze, the South African swimmer won gold in the 100 backstroke at this summer’s Commonwealth Games as well as silver in the 50 back and bronze in the 200 back, announced his decision in an Instagram post Friday.

Coetze will be joining a squad and coaching staff with a strong record of producing world-class talent. The list of backstrokers to have gone through Cal includes Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, Olympians Jacob Pebley and Bryce Mefford and 2022 NCAA champion Destin Lasco. Cal has won five national team titles under Durden’s leadership, in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2019 and last season, when Lasco, sprinter Bjorn Seeliger and a quartet of fifth-year stars helped lift the Bears ahead of Texas.

After Coetze’s strong performances at the Commonwealth Games, he jumped further toward world-class status at the World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru, in late August. The 18-year-old Coetze won gold in the 200 back at that meet in 1:56.05, and he claimed silver in the 50 and 100 back behind Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk. Coetze set championship records in the 50 back (24.58) and 100 back (52.95) in the semifinals in Lima before Masiuk swam even quicker in the finals of both races. In two years, Masiuk and Coetze are set to bring that budding rivalry to the collegiate level with Masiuk set to swim at North Carolina State after the 2024 Olympics.