SA trio lap up the World Championships experience | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA trio lap up the World Championships experience

By Mark Etheridge

After the medal-winning highs of Wednesday evening, South Africa’s swimmers got back down to the hard yards at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Thursday morning.

Three swimmers were in action for the rainbow nation, while Ayrton Sweeney scratched from the men’s 200-metre breaststroke heats.

First off was young Erin Gallagher in the women’s 100-metre freestyle heats.

Going off in lane five she was first at the turn and went on to win in 1min 55.46 seconds from Iceland’s Bryndis Hansen (1:56.11).

But that wasn’t enough to see the 2014 Commonwealth Games swimmer progressing, as her time was only 24th quickest on the day. Fastest of the 16 qualifiers was Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in 53.01, while the slowest qualifier was 54.45.

The Durban teenager told Team SA: ‘It’s way bigger than Commies, way more nerve-racking, in my opinion.

‘But at Commies I was young and naive, so I probably had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I don’t think there is a word or words in the English dictionary that could even remotely describe World Champs. The TV cameras do not do this pool, stadium or crowd any justice. I’m so grateful that I’m one of the lucky few to be here.’

‘I’m really, really happy with my 100 free this morning, considering that six months ago I could only train 500m, due to a shoulder injury. So just being here, for me, is something I never thought I’d be able to do, so I think I would’ve been proud of myself, no matter the outcome.

‘It’s very daunting standing behind the block in such a huge arena – I’ve never felt such a huge atmosphere, and I’ve never swum in such a major international competition before. It’s an amazing opportunity to be here just to gain experience and to compete against the best of the best.

‘The team here is very very young and despite a lot of negative press, I personally, think that the team has done exceptionally well and I’m so proud of every one of them.

‘This meet has only inspired me to keep going, and it reminded me that anything is possible. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything in the world, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of something so influential in swimming.

Sadly, there were no early birthday celebrations for Binedell, who turns 22 on Sunday.

He ended 22nd fastest of the heats, as American Ryan Murphy went quickest in 1:56.11. Slowest qualifying time through to the next stage was 1:58.34.

‘I’m happy with my race,’ said Binedell. ‘I was a little disappointed after the relay, although I swam a PB, because a bad turn cost me a really good time.

‘Going into this morning I felt more relaxed than I’ve ever felt before a 200 back, I was totally focused on what I had to do.

‘Now I’m really excited for things to come, I’m training harder than I’ve ever trained and am really enjoying my swimming. I’m absolutely loving the experience of being here and couldn’t ask for better teammates,’ said the Pinetown-based swimmer, who competes out of national coach Graham Hill’s squad.

Next up for Binedell is the men’s 4×100 medley relay. ‘I’m a 200m backstroke specialist so the 100 is a tough race for me to adjust to, but I’ll be giving it my absolute everything for the team and SA.’

Third SA swimmer in action was Port Elizabeth’s Kaylene Corbett (pictured above) in the 200m breaststroke.

Corbett, had her first taste of Championships action in the mixed 4x100m relay on Wednesday, went in heat three of four and took eighth spot in 2:31.36. Winner was Molly Renshaw of Britain in 2:24.03, which was also the quickest into the semi-final.

Corbett was 23rd fastest and would have had to go 2:28.59 or quicker to seal a semi-final slot.

‘I’m a bit disappointed with the 100 that I swam on day two, but I think my 200 was an improvement, only being a second off my PB,’ said Pearson High matric pupil Corbett.

‘The type of pressure that is put on you at a event like this is insane, since you don’t want to let anyone down. I don’t think most people understand how stressful it is being up against the best and still being a young team.

‘The overall experience has been so incredible and I’ve learned so much. I truly believe this team is going to grow and all of us have such big dreams. I can’t explain the feeling being here and the honour I feel.’

Corbett has one of the more congested schedules in the SA team, with still the 50m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay to go.

Pictures of Gallagher, Binedell and Corbett courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA

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