Erin Gallagher kicked off the World Aquatics Championships by setting a new African record in the 100m butterfly, and booking a place in her first-ever world championships final, in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, 11 February 2024
The Pretoria-based swimmer blazed to the new continental mark in the morning heats, finishing in a time of 57.59 seconds, so qualifying third fastest for the evening semifinal, where she finished third.
“I really didn’t expect to swim a best time and break the African record. That was a really big treat for me.”New 100m Butterfly African Record Holder, Erin Gallagher
The 25-year-old Gallagher’s semi-final time was a slightly slower 57.92, but it was quick enough to see her through to Monday night’s final.
“Being the first race of the gala, with the nerves and breaking the ice, sometimes you can have a bit of a rusty swim, and you realise what you need to work on, so to see that African record next to my time was a really big shock for me!”
Gallagher, who also held the previous record set at the World Student Games in China last year, will contest the 100m butterfly final on Monday night, and is also entered into the 50m butterfly, as well as the 50 and 100m freestyle.
“I’m just looking forward to the rest of the week and seeing what it holds,” she said.
Team South Africa icon Chad le Clos, also at the Aquatic World Champs in Doha, added a shout-out to Gallagher.
“That was a big swim from Erin,” he said. “She’s come a long way, so I’m very happy for her.”
Earlier in the day, Duné Coetzee finished 14th overall in the 400m freestyle heats in 4:12.03, missing out on the final.
“I’m pretty happy about the swim. It was a solid swim,” said Coetzee. “I would have liked to go a little bit faster, but it was only one and a half seconds off my best, so it was good for a morning swim.
“It was good to get the first one out of the way. You never really know where you’re at after the first day after the travelling and everything, so it was good to get the nerves to calm down a little bit and then I have a day off now, and the 200 freestyle the day after. I’m just trying to go as fast as I can, and hopefully get a personal best time. The 200 freestyle is a fun race for me, and I’m excited to see what I can do in that.”
Swimming action continues on Monday morning on what will be a busy day for the South African team with Milla Drakopoulos (100m backstroke), Lara van Niekerk (100m breaststroke) and Stephanie Houtman (1500m freestyle) all in action.
Photo Caption: Erin Gallagher kicked off the World Aquatics Championships by setting a new African record in the 100m butterfly, and booking a place in her first-ever World Championships final, in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, 11 February 2024. Photo: SA Sports Images