Sarah Poewe - Cape Town Olympian


Click here to see a video of Sarah

Sarah won two titles at the 2000 World Short Course Championships - and the 100m breaststroke at the 2012 European Championships. She swam for South Africa at the 2000 Athens Olympic Games - and for Germany in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

She was born on March 3, 1983, in Cape Town, South Africa, where she attended the Deutsche Schule Kapstadt, and swam with coach Karoly von Törrös  In her early years, Poewe (pronounced "Perver") emerged as one of the world's most promising young swimmers. Sarah, whose mother is Jewish, began swimming at a young age when she accompanied her brother to his practices. She made her international debut at the Pan American Championships in 1997, at the age of 14. Since then, Poewe has become South Africa's second best breaststroker behind Penny Heyns, an Olympic champion and world record holder. At the 1998 Junior Olympics in Moscow, Sarah was the voted the Best Female Swimmer.

In 1999, Poewe won her first Pan Pacific medal, a bronze, in the 200-meter breaststroke. She also broke through at the Short Course World Championships, finishing sixth in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:08.41) and eighth in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:28.07). Sarah finished the year ranked in the top-ten in three different breaststroke events: the 50-meter (8th), 100-meter (10th), and 200-meter (3rd). At the 2000 Short Course World Championships, Poewe finished first in the 50-meter breaststroke (30.66), and 100-meter breaststroke (1:06.21), and fifth in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:26.83).

Sarah Poewe with former Cape Town coach Karoly von Torros

At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, the 17-year-old Poewe competed for the South African swimming team in three events. She reached the finals in the 100-meter breaststroke, and finished in fourth place (1:07.85), missing a medal by 0.30 seconds. Poewe also competed in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:25.72), finishing in sixth place, but only .37 seconds from a medal. Her 4x100-meter medley team finished in fifth place with a time of 4:05.15. In 2001, Poewe won the South African National Championships in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:08.02 (four-and-a-half seconds ahead of the second place finisher); the time automatically qualified her for the World Championships. She said following the race: "I am so happy with it. It's my third best time ever. I had a good feeling this was going to be a good nationals for me." In June, at the World Meet in Barcelona, Sarah won the 50-meter breaststroke (32.10) and the 100-meter breaststroke (1:09.14), and finished third in the 200-meter (2:29.25).

At the 2001 World Championships, Poewe finished fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:08.52 (only 0.02 seconds from the bronze medal). She also competed in the 50-meter breaststroke, making the final and finishing seventh (32.03). She also made it to the semifinals in the 200-meter breaststroke, but finished 11th overall with a time of 2:28.76.

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, she captured the silver in the 200-meter breaststroke and 4x100-meter relay, and took the bronze in the 50-meter and 100-meter breaststroke. Following the Commonwealth Games, Poewe decided to participate internationally under the flag of Germany; she has duel citizenship because her father is German. At the 2003 World Championships, Poewe competed in the 100-meter breaststroke and finished in fourth place with a time of 1:08.06. In the 200-meter breaststroke, she reached the finals and placed sixth with a time of 2:26.72. In the 50-meter breaststroke, Sarah finished seventh with a time of 32.03.

Poewe represented Germany in the 2004 Athens Games. On August 15th she swam a 1:07.97 time, in the heats of the 100-meter breaststroke event and qualified for the semifinals. In the semi's, held later that day, she clocked in at 1:07.48, which was the second fastest qualifying time all-around. However, Sarah slowed down a bit in the final, as her 1:07.53 time saw her come in fifth. Poewe swam the second leg for Germany, as part of the 4X100-meter medley relay team in heat 1 on August 20. The Germans finished second (4:04.16) and thus qualified automatically for the finals held on August 21. Sarah swam the second leg again in the final, with a personal time of 1:07.38, as Germany won the bronze (4:00.72).

South African swimming team to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with Penny Heyns, Charlene Wittstock, Ryk Neethling, Terence Parkin, Brendon Dedekind, Simon Thirsk, Theo Verster, Nicholas Volker, Mandy Loots, Heleen Muller, Renate du Plessis.

Country: Germany
Events: 100m and 200m Breaststroke
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa
Height: 5'9
College: University of Georgia
Hobbies: running, listening to music, reading and going to movies
Education: Speech Communication Major
Club: SG Bayer Wuppertal
Coaches: Jack Bauerle (UGA)/ Karoly von Toros (South Africa)/Henning Lambertz (SG Bayer Wuppertal)

In 2000: (represented South Africa)
• Olympic Games (Sydney)
4th place 100m breaststroke
6th place 200m breaststroke
• World Short Course (Greece)
1st place 50/ 100m breaststroke

In 2002: (first time represented Germany)
• European Short Course (Riesa)
1st place 100m breaststroke (meet record & German Record)
2nd place 50/ 200m breaststroke

In 2003:
• European Short Course (Dublin)
1st place 50/ 100m breaststroke (German & meet records)

In 2004:
• Olympic Games
5th place 100m breaststroke (German Record)
3rd place 400m Medley Relay (German and European Record)
• European Short Course (Vienna)
1st place 50/100m breaststroke
3rd place 200m breaststroke

In 2005:
• World Champs (Montreal)
100m breaststroke finals
3rd place 400m Medley Relay

In 2006:
• European Long Course (Budapest)
2nd place 400m Medley Relay

In 2007:
• European Short Course (Debrecen)
2nd place 50m breaststroke (back injury/ had to withdraw)
• World Cup Short Course (Berlin)
1st place 100m breaststroke
2nd place 50m breaststroke

In 2008:
• German Olympic Trials (Berlin)
1st place 100/ 200m breaststroke (100m-European Record/ German Record)
• Olympic Games (China) (had to withdraw due to illness)
Heading into Games, ranked 3rd in the 100 breaststroke.

In 2009:
• LC World Championships (Rome)
3rd place 4x100 medley relay

In 2012:
• European Championships (Debrecen)
1st place 100m breaststroke
3rd place 200. breastsroke
1st place 4x100m medley relay (below)

Poewe and Heyns set for showdown

 20 MARCH 2000

Sarah Poewe, South Africa's latest world champion, goes up against her idol Penny Heyns, South Africa's Olympic champion, in two weeks time at the national swimming championships.

Both women will be in action in the two breaststroke events at the championships, which start in Durban on April 1.

It will be almost like a dress rehearsal for the Olympics where Heyns will defend her 100m and 200m breaststroke titles in the pool at Sydney.

Poewe emerged from Heyns's shadow at the weekend, taking two titles in the breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Athens.

Poewe has beating of Heyns, says coach

Leading South African swimming coach Karoly von Toros will be flying the flags of two different nations on the pool deck when the eagerly awaited Olympic gala gets under way at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre next weekend.

The Hungarian-born coach is charged with shaping the careers of two talented young southern African swimmers, both of whom will be in action at these Games.

Von Toros, who was head coach of the South African swimming team for the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, coaches rising breaststroke stars Sarah Poewe, of South Africa, and South African-born Swaziland national Wickus Nienaber.

Nienaber, who trains with Von Toros and Poewe in Cape Town, will come up against South African contenders Terence Parkin and Brett Petersen in the 100m breaststroke event.

Poewe, 17, who has been under the wing of Von Toros ever since she started competitive swimming as a nine-year-old, goes head to head with her fellow countrywoman, double defending Olympic champion and world record holder Penny Heyns.

And the coach is particularly excited about Poewe's prospects of poaching a possible medal.

"If the 100m breaststroke final were taking place tomorrow, Sarah would be ready to take on the world, such is her conditioning," he enthused.

"She knows she has a chance to earn a medal, even as a 17-year-old, because she is mature way beyond her years."

Von Toros said that because Poewe, at one time or another, had beaten all the top Olympic contenders in her event - including Heyns - in the lead-up to the Games, her confidence was sky high.

In the recent Telstra Grand Prix in Melbourne, Poewe finished a close second to Australian Leisel Jones after recording a respectable time of 1min:08,9sec.

"She was not tapering, had done no speed work and was tired from all the training, so I was very happy with her performance in Melbourne, which we used just to test where she is," explained her coach.

On the Canada-based Heyns, who won the 100m and 200m breaststroke titles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Von Toros warned that she should never be written off.

"The last time we saw Penny was in Durban two months ago when Sarah beat her, so we don't know too much about how she's getting on," he said.

"But she swam well in the recent Canadian Olympic trials, and knowing her, there is little doubt that she will be coming into her best form now."

Personally, Von Toros said, he would love to see both South Africans on the podium - but he would not say in which order.


Home sweet home.

 February 2nd, 2007

Sarah Poewe returns home to find that lost magic:

German international Sarah Poewe has returned to her Cape Town roots as she searches for the edge that made her one of the world’s best breaststroke swimmers.

She has been training in the city since last August as part of her preparations for next year’s Olympics with long-time former coach Karoly von Toros.

Poewe, still only 23, says she came back to Van Toros because of their understanding. “Karoly discovered me when I was 10 and gave me the courage and support I needed.”

They both claim there has been a rapid improvement in her performance already.

Britta Steffen, Annika Mehlhorn, Sarah Poewe and Daniela Samulski of Germany receive the bronze medal during the medal ceremony for the Women's 4x 100m Medley Relay Fina at the 13th FINA World Championships at the Stadio del Nuoto on August 1, 2009 in Rome, Italy.

Poewe shines in Germany

2002-05-28 Cape Town

Sarah Poewe made her debut for the German Swimming Club, SG Wuppertal by winning gold in the 100m breaststroke during the country's national gala in Warendorf over the past few days. The whole Germany is now talking about the new "swimming asset" gained from South Africa.

The German website, Schwimmwelt excitedly referred to Poewe's 1:09.78 victory as being by a new swimming asset gained form South Africa by the German swimming union.

Poewe, who matriculated from the Deutsche Schule in Cape Town last year, holds dual citizenship.

Apparently the Germans are trying to entice this top swimmer, one of the best breaststroke exponents in the world, to Germany. This is another reason why South Africa should look after its elite swimmers much better. The country cannot afford an exodus of swimmers of the quality of Poewe.

The 19-year old South African breaststroke champion left for Germany last week to compete in that country' national gala. She has been included in the preliminary South African team for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in July.

However, the carrots Germany will dangle in front of her may be equally attractive. The European Gala is due to be held in Berlin later this year.

Poewe does not have her equal in breaststroke in South Africa. Three years ago she missed the podium by the proverbial hair's breadth at the Sydney Olympics when Sharks came fourth in the 100m breaststroke.

The Capetonian won double gold in the world short course gala three years ago in Athens and was once again the most successful South African swimmer at this year's edition of the event, winning a medal in Moscow.

On Saturday Poewe came third in the 50m breaststroke in 32.39. Simone Weiler, who played second fiddle to Poewe in the 100m won the battle over the shorter distance in 31.89. Janne Schafer came second in 32.17.

Germany's swimming darling Franziska van Almsick celebrated her return to swimming by setting the fastest time of the past three years in the 200m crawl (1:57.75).

And on the other side of the globe, the probable biggest threat to Poewe at the Commonwealth Games, Australia's Leisel Jones won the 100m breaststroke in that country's Grand Prix Gala in a convincing time of 1:09.72.


South Africa’s Sarah Poewe in Auto Accident; May Knock Her Out of Commonwealth Games

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, July 16. OLYMPIC swimmer Sarah Poewe has been admitted to a Cape Town hospital after a car accident last Saturday, in which she apparently crashed her car into a tree. It is believed that Poewe injured an elbow in the accident and her condition is not serious, but it cast some doubt over her participation at the Commonwealth Games in two weeks. Poewe, who matriculated from the Deutsche Schule in Cape Town last year and holds dual citizenship, had planned to represent South Africa for the last time at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester before moving to Germany, where she has already made her racing debut for the Swimming Club SG Wuppertal at the Nationals in Warendorf, winning the 100 breast.

Sarah Poewe with the South African women's medley relay team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. They won silver in the 4x100 medley relay - with Charlene Wittstock, Heleen Muller and Mandy loots

UGA swimmer Poewe sets German records

December 20, 2002

 University of Georgia freshman women's swimmer Sarah Poewe set three German records at the European Short Course Championships in Riesa, Germany, on Dec. 12-15.

 Poewe, who has dual citizenship in Germany and South Africa, teamed with Janine Pietsch, Nele Hofmann and Antje Buschschulte to finish second in the 200-meter medley relay (1:49.25).

 Poewe finished second to Sweden's Emma Igelstrom in the 50-meter breast. Igelstrom, the world record holder in the event, edged Poewe (30.89 to 30.90).

 Poewe also set a course record with her first-place finish in the 100-meter breast (1:06.67). The mark broke the previous record of 1:06.95 set by Poland's Alicja Peczak on Dec. 17, 2000.


Aug. 9, 2004

Sarah Poewe, a a rising junior at Georgia, will represent Germany in the upcoming Olympic Games. In her career with the Lady Bulldogs, Poewe has tallied eight All-America honors and claimed her first league title in 2004 with a 1:00.07 in the 100y breast. The 2004 competition marks Poewe's second trip to the Olympics, having finished fourth in the 100m breast and sixth in the 200m breast as a member of the South African team in Sydney. In Athens, she'll be swimming the 100m breaststroke and the 4x100m medley relay.

Q: How does the experience of the Olympic Games differ from that of swimming at the collegiate level?
A: There is no comparison between college swimming and the Olympic Games. It is a whole different level of racing, especially on a mental level.

Q: How has swimming at Georgia prepared you for this experience?
A: Being part of a college team has taught me a great deal. First, being part of a team, one is appointed to race hard not only for yourself but for the whole team. Second, being part of the Georgia team is an honour as we came in second in the nation at the NCAAs. That was an experience of a lifetime. The team is hard working and dedicated, and when the going gets tough the dogs are always at their best. That is what I love about the team : ) 

Sarah Poewe's biography at the University of Georgia

2004-2005: Earned All-America honors as a member of the victorious 400y medley and 200y medley relay teams at the NCAA Championships...each squad set the pool record at the Purdue facility...also earned an All-America plaque with a third-place showing in the 100y breast with a time of 1:00.19...was an Honorable Mention All-American in the 200y breast by placing 10th...Georgia's top performer in both breaststroke events at the SEC Championships...was runner-up in the 100y breast with a time of 1:00.77...also finished second in the 200y breast in 2:12.82...placed 16th in the 200y IM with a time of 2:03.85 after swimming a season best 2:03.46 in the morning prelims...was a member of Georgia's SEC winning 200y medley relay... at the World Championships, won bronze as a member of the medley relay team and was seventh in the 100 breast...Team­ -- 1st at NCAAs, 2nd at SECs.

2003-2004: NCAA runner-up in the 100m breast with a time of 1:06.02...member of the national champion 400m medley relay which lowered NCAA, American and U.S. Open records with a time of 3:56.48...earned additional All-America honors with a fourth-place finish in the 200m breast (2:25.40) and as a member of the 200m medley relay that finished second...SEC Champion in the 100y breast with a winning time of 1:00.07... was first individual conference title...SEC runner-up in the 200y breast with a time of 2:12.36...finished sixth in the 200y IM with a personal-best time of 2:00.54...aided the relay efforts by swimming the breaststroke leg on both the SEC-winning 200y and 400y medley relays...won a bronze medal as a member of the German 400m medley relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece...finished fifth in the 100m breast at the Olympics...won the 50m and 100m breast and finished third in the 200m breast at the 2004 European Short Course Championships in Austria...Team­ -- 2nd at NCAAs, 2nd at SECs. Honored by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) by inclusion on the CSCAA Academic All-America Team. To achieve such recognition, a swimmer must acquire more than a 3.5 GPA and participate in the NCAA Championships.

2002-2003: Earned All-America honors and lowered personal-best times in three events at the NCAA Championships... finished third in the 100y breast in 59.89 and took fourth in the 100y breast in 2:09.89...stopped the clock in 2:01.23 to finish 18th in the 200y IM at NCAAs...finished 10th in the overall high point standings at the SEC Championships with 46 total points after three top-six finishes .SEC runner-up in the 100y breast with a time of 1:00.51...claimed third place in the 200y breast in 2:12.13 and finished sixth in the 200y IM in 2:01.65 after clocking a time of 2:01.34 in the prelims...member of the 200y and 400y medley relays that finished second at the SEC Championships...over the summer, posted three top-seven finishes at the 2003 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, including a fourth-place finish in the 100m breast...took sixth in 200m breast and seventh in 50m breast...represented Germany at the World Championship...won the 50m and 100m breast in German-record time at the 2003 European Short Course Championships in Dublin, Ireland...Team -- 2nd at NCAAs, 3rd at SECs.

High School: Deutsche Schule Kapstadt...runner-up in the 100m breast at the 2002 World Short Course Championships in Moscow...won three silver and two bronze medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games...won three silver medals at the 2002 South African Short Course Trials, setting All-Africa record with a time of 2:23.08 in the 200m breast, topping Penny Heyns' record by 1.19 first meet for Germany, earned gold in the 100m breast and silver in both the 50m and 200m breast at the 2002 European Short Course Championships in Reisa, Germany...won the 50m and 100m breast in the 2000 World Short Course in Athens, Greece... elected Sanlan's Junior Sportswoman of the Year and Western Province Sportswoman of the Year in 2001...swimming for South Africa, finished fourth in the 100m breast and sixth in the 200m breast at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney...took third in the 200m breast at the 1999 Pan-Pacific Games... honored as Best Female Athlete in Republic of South Africa and named Best Female Swimmer at World Youth Games.

Personal: Born March 3, 1983, in Cape Town, South Africa...daughter of Rainer and Lorraine Poewe...has older brother Jean-Claude. Major--Speech Communications.

In 2015 Sarah was chosen as the German Swimming Patron for the European Maccabi Games. The former German professional swimmer grew up in South Africa and was the first Jewish athlete to win an Olympic medal for Germany since 1936.

"The fact that the European Maccabi Games are being held in Berlin for the first time on German soil makes me really happy and very emotional. The history of Berlin just highlights this event in a very unique way," she said.

Sarah Poewe (*1983) is an Olympic breaststroke swimmer. The swimmer, who has both the South African and German citizenship, is 17-time German women’s champion and holds 3 European records as well as 9 German records. In addition to multiple international titles and medals, Sarah Poewe won the bronze medal in the 4x100m medley at the Olympic Games 2004. Poewe is the first Jew to win an Olympic medal for Germany after 1936." 

Today Sarah runs her own swim school in Germany.

The four-time Olympian who started from 2002 to the end of their playing career in 2012 for the SG Bayer, who founded her own company recently. Under the name Poewe Swimcoaching the 31-year-old multiple German Champion offers special personal swim training.