Pieter Coetze Tops Field As Swimming World Male African Swimmer of the Year

Pieter Coetze

Pieter Coetze Tops Field As Swimming World Male African Swimmer of the Year

The rise of Pieter Coetze has been something South Africa and the rest of the swimming world have been anxiously awaiting.

The 18-year-old from Pretoria put together an impressive season and was Swimming World’s unanimous choice for Male African Swimmer of the Year. Among the South African Championships, World Junior Championships and the Commonwealth Games, Coetze competed in a number of high-pressure races with elite competition.

Coetze had his breakout party at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, claiming a rainbow of medals in the backstroke events. He won gold in the 100, silver in the 50 and bronze in the 200. In the 100-meter backstroke, Coetze touched the wall in 53.78 to hold off the field in Birmingham, England. It was quite a turnaround from finishing 24th at the Olympic Games in Tokyo just a year before.

Coezte finished the year with the sixth-best time in the world in the 200 backstroke, the ninth-fastest in the 100 backstroke and the 11th-fastest in the 50 backstroke.

He continued to perform well throughout the year, winning the gold medal in the 200 backstroke at the South African Championships in August in 1:51.36. He also won the 50 freestyle (22.34) at the meet.

At the World Junior Championships, Coetze broke the meet record in the 200 backstroke (1:56.05). In the 100 backstroke, he went 52.95 in the semifinals to break the African record in the event. He also broke the meet record (24.58) in the 50 back, but ended up with the silver medal (24.61).

His success wasn’t just in the backstroke, either. At the World Junior Championships, he was fourth in the 100 freestyle and 50 butterfly as he competed in a stunning 10 events. Coetze left Peru with a gold medal in the 200 backstroke, silver in the 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke and the 400 medley relay and a bronze in the 400 mixed medley relay.

Combine that success with his young age, and there is plenty of reason to see even more potential from this young star. The top times in his career in the backstroke events are impressive: 50 (24.58), 100 (52.95), 200 (1:56.05). Meanwhile, his 50 butterfly (24.14), 50 free (22.15) and 100 free (49.75) are also developing.

Still a teenager, Coetze will look to make another leap in his speed during his training in the United States. Coetze has committed to Cal, where he will join Coach Dave Durden’s team next year. He should provide an immediate boost to the Golden Bears and will be out to prove he can be one of the top college swimmers in the world as well.

1. PIETER COETZE, South Africa (11) 55
2. Matthew Sates, South Africa 41
3. Chad le Clos, South Africa 35
4. Marwan El Kamash, Egypt 18
5. Jaouad Syoud, Algeria 14
(First-place votes in parentheses)

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