Dune Coetzee

Dune Coetzee (17) is a top South African swimmer who competes out of the University of Pretoria (TUKS). She won the 400m freestyle and 200m butterfly events at the 2019 South African National Championships and placed eighth in the 200m butterfly at the 2019 World Juniors. She also competed for Team South Africa at the 2019 World Championships where she achieved three top-25 finishes.
VS. caught up with Dune to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on Dune’s training and how she is coping:

Q. Are you happy and healthy so far in the lockdown, or are you going a little crazy?

A. “So far I am still healthy, grateful, and happy. I’m frustrated but it is not something I can control so I’m just making the best of the situation.”

Q. What immediate coaching goals have the lockdown interrupted?

A. “My big goal for 2020 was to qualify for the Olympics at the Olympic Trials in April 2020. Then to go to the Games in July/August, and ultimately try to make semi-finals or better yet finals. I’ve done a lot of work and was building up for Nationals (Olympic Trials) which was my main focus.”

Q. Which events were you focused on but were cancelled?

A. “The next big meet that was coming up was SA Nationals in Durban (Olympic Trials) where I would have tried to qualify in the 200m butterfly and 400m freestyle events, as well as trying to make the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team. We haven’t had 4 girls so fast in the 200 free for a long time and I believe we would have qualified.”

Q. What have you done during your lockdown time (trained/scouted/remote coaching) related to your sport?

A. “During the lockdown I’m trying to train as much as I can. In the beginning, it was hard because I was not able to run and our swimming pool at home was freezing, so I couldn’t really swim against a resistance cord. During that time I spent some time on an indoor bike and doing some gym work in our garage. Now that the lockdown has moved to level 4 I’m going on morning runs as often as possible and we managed to heat the pool so I also swim every day.”

Q. What have you done unrelated to your sport – new skills, hobbies – to stay busy?

A. “I’ve mostly been busy with school work since I’m in my final year of high school. I also started to learn how to play the guitar (my dad is a great guitar player).”

Q. How are you feeling about returning – are you anxious about getting the virus, your swimmers safety, etc.?

A. “I am super excited to return to swimming and start working hard on my goals for the rest of the year and next year. I’m also excited to return to school and finish my last year of school. I can’t control what the effect of the virus might have on me or others so I try not to worry about it too much. I’m just making sure I stay as safe as possible.”

Q. Do you feel more positive about the future – has this time been constructive, or do you feel like you’ve lost some ground?

A. “It is hard to stay positive because I believe I was in a great place and in great shape going into Nationals this year. But I’m also certain that good things can come from this for example the Games being postponed to next year, gives me more time to train and I will be done with school by that time which means I can put all of my energy and focus into my swimming.”

Q. Have you been monitoring what other coaches have been up to?

A. “No! I can’t control what they do.”

Q. What are the plans to resume/when do you think training will be resumed?

A. “Hopefully training can start again soon. It is hard for my coach, Linda De Jager, and myself to do planning if we don’t have a return date. I’m fortunate to be able to train and get some swimming in, so my return should not be much of an issue. My body is still used to swimming so I should be able to get back into it quickly.

Q. How do you think training will be different in the future?

A. “I think we might have to be less in a lane which might become a problem to train together. It might force us into smaller groups and different training times. I’ll leave that for the Tuks coaches to plan.”

Q. What positives have come from this time?

A. “My body has gotten a bit of time off from the busy schedule of trying to balance school and swimming every day. I’ve also managed to catch up with some school work and also family time.”

Q. What impact do you think the postponement will have on overall performances at the Olympics?

A. “I hope it doesn’t have any effect and that we all can get ready for it next year. I want to test myself against the best when I get the opportunity and would like all of us to be at our best.”

Q. What advice do you have for your team/squadmates?

A. “Always try to turn a negative into a positive and control the things you can. Don’t let that slip as well because your situation changed.”

Q. First “normal” thing you’re planning on doing once lockdown ends?

A. “Going on a date at my favourite restaurant.”

Q. Silliest thing you’ve done in lockdown?

A. “I made a TikTok…”

Q. Favourite entertainment/place/activity you missing the most?

A. “I miss going to Seattle Coffee Co. the most.”

Q. Swimmer you admire the most?

A. “Caleb Dresse”l

Q. Funniest moment at a swim event?

A. “If you are friends with the Nel twins most of them are funny!”

Q. Superstitions or rituals before a race?

A. “I talk to myself out loud before I get on the blocks to “put me in the zone”.”

Q. The first thing your coach will say to you when you see her?

A. ““Hello Dunetjie, ek het jou so baie gemis.””

Thank you to Dune for your time, VS. is behind you all the way!

Amy Bathgate
About the Author
Amy Bathgate is the Operations Manager at VS Sports, playing an integral role in product development, innovation, and design, and heading up a team of enthusiastic analysts working towards transforming the way sport is analyzed, scouted, and experienced. With over a decade of expertise in consulting, biomechanics, and performance analysis across various disciplines and levels, she understands that the little details make a big difference. One of her passions and specialties is swimming, and she assists and drives athletes and coaches to achieve their performance potentials using stroke and race analysis to better their understanding of the complexities of the sport in order to go faster and train and perform more efficiently. Amy is also a Dartfish Certified Instructor, certified in Functional Movement Screening, and a former lecturer at the University of Pretoria.