Teenage sensation Lara van Niekerk expressed her excitement as she earned silver in her first-ever senior international meeting at the first leg of the Mare Nostrum series in Monaco on Saturday, 21 May 2022.
The 19-year-old, who beat compatriot and Olympic silver medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker at the recent SA national championships in Gqeberha, led the 100m breaststroke event for much of the race, van Niekerk was just out-touched by Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby.
Van Niekerk finished in a time of 1:06.60 with Jacoby taking the win in 1:06.55.
“It was just nice racing against the best in the world,” said van Niekerk.
“In the race, I didn’t really see anyone next to me, but I knew she was going to come back hard on the second 50… I saw her at the end, I actually thought I had it but she just out-touched me. She was super-sweet about it, she congratulated me and she’s an amazing person.”
Speaking about the experience of competing at senior international level van Niekerk added: “I’ve definitely learned how to manage with my nerves – how to control it and not let big names that have achieved a lot intimidate me or anything. And I’ve just learned to enjoy every moment because this is all part of the learning process.”
Van Niekerk was back in the pool in the skins races later in the evening, winning her 50m breaststroke quarter-final in 30.08 to progress to Sunday’s semi-final.
Meanwhile, Rebecca Meder claimed bronze in the 400m individual medley in 4:47.67 behind Hungarians Zsuzsann Jakabos (4:43.31) and Dalma Sebestyen (4:45.31).
Photo 1 Caption: Teenage sensation Lara van Niekerk expressed her excitement as she earned silver in her first-ever senior international meeting at the first leg of the Mare Nostrum series in Monaco on Saturday, 21 May 2022. Photo: Swimming SA
With editing by gsport