arena is pleased to announce a new sponsorship deal with young South African talent, Matt Sates. The 19-year-old broke three different world junior records in the space of six days in October, 2021, and went on to win the men’s title of the 2021 FINA World Swimming Cup. A highly versatile swimmer, he competes at the highest level in freestyle, butterfly and the individual medley, and made his Olympic debut in Japan last year.
Hailing from the KwaZulu-Natal midlands of South Africa, Matt started swimming at an early age, following his older brother into the sport, and as he went through the age groups he started to garner interest. Having just turned 16, in 2019 he won the 200 breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 IM at the South African Short Course National Championships, and had a number of other individual top 5 finishes.
Matt made his Olympic debut at the postponed Summer Games in Japan 2021, swimming the 200 IM and 100 butterfly, and making the semi-finals in the former. A few months later in the 4-meet FINA Swimming World Cup, he won more medals than any other swimmer, coming away with 13 gold medals, four silvers, and a bronze, for a grand total of 18. During the course of the series, he set his first world junior short-course record in Berlin, returning a time of 1:51.45 in the 200 IM, making him the eighth fastest swimmer in the event in history. The next day, he broke his second world junior record in 200 freestyle in a time of 1:40.65, and four days later in Budapest, he took down the 400 freestyle world junior record with a time of 3:37.92.
In January of 2022, Matt moved to the University of Georgia to train under countryman Neil Versveld, and went on to win the NCAA 500-yard freestyle title in March – breaking the meet record with a time of 4:06.61 – before returning to South Africa in April. He qualified for both the 2022 World Championships and Commonwealth Games, performing well at both. In Budapest he made the 200 IM final and 200 freestyle semi-final, and in Birmingham he made three finals: 200 and 400 freestyle, and the 400 IM, in which he placed fourth.
“I’m so excited to be joining the Arena family,” said Matt. “I have loved the brand since I started swimming and always feel I swim my best in Arena gear! Thank you to Arena for the opportunity to represent the brand as I chase my swimming dreams.”