“It was just nice racing against the best in the world,” Van Niekerk said.
“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.”
On competing at senior international level for the first time, Van Niekerk said: “I’ve definitely learnt 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 learnt 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 quarterfinal in 30.08 to progress to Sunday’s semifinal. Jacoby was fourth in that race in 31.43 seconds.
Veteran Chad le Clos was in action in the 200m butterfly final. He led at both the 50 and 100m marks but dropped back in the third 50m to eventually finish behind Switzerland’s Noe Ponti who won in 1:56.51. SA’s four-time Olympic medallist did well to hold off Brazilian Leonardo de Deus to finish second in 1:56.74.