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On Friday, South African swimmer and Commonwealth champion Pieter Coetze announced via Instagram that he has verbally committed to swim collegiately at the University of California-Berkley. He will be arriving on campus in the fall of 2024, having committed to swim with his current club and coach in South Africa until after the Paris Olympic games.
“I decided to swim NCAA because I wanted to get the college experience and to be in that environment,” Coetze told SwimSwam. “I think Cal is the right place and I will be in a competitive environment with some amazing swimmers and coaches.”
This summer, Coetze had a major long course breakthrough. And while he missed the 2022 World Championships due to a COVID-19 infection, he bounced back by winning a Commonwealth title in the 100 back and a World Junior title in the 200 back later on. He holds best times of 24.58, 52.95, and 1:56.05 in the long course 50/100/200 back events respectivley, with his 100 back time being an African record.
And while conversions from long course to short course aren’t entirely accurate, Coezte’s long course times converted to yards show that he has a chance to make an immediate impact for Cal as a freshman. Both his 100 back and 200 back times are just over a tenth of a second off the time it took to make the ‘A’ final at 2022 NCAAs, whereas his 20.52 50 back time makes him a strong candidate to take over Bjorn Seeliger‘s spot on the 50 back relay once he graduates. In fact, Coetze’s arrival comes the season after Seeliger and Destin Lasco, the team’s two fastest backstrokers, are set to graduate (if they don’t take a fifth year).
Coetze’s Converted Best Times (LCM to SCY):
50 back — 20.52
100 back — 44.87
200 back — 1:39.67
100 free — 43.56
Coezte’s commitment to Cal further extends the school’s reputation in backstroke, which has historically been their strongest event discipline. Last year, the Golden Bears scored 86.5 out of their 320.5 individual points in the 100 and 200 back events alone, en route to winning the national title.
South Africa has seen several of their young swimmers come to the United States to swim NCAA recently. The prime example is Matt Sates, who spent a semester with Georgia last season and won a national title, but then chose to go pro and return to South Africa almost immediately after. Another South African that will soon be in the NCAA is Olympian Aimee Canny, who is set to arrive at UVA in the spring semester of the 2022-23 season.
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