Swimming sensation Tatjana Schoenmaker propelled to the top by studies
The former University of Pretoria student boasts an impressive array of achievements, including winner of the South African Sports Star of the Year and South African Sportswoman of the Year last year.
Others are silver medallist in the 200m breaststroke at the World Championships in Korea for 2019, two-time gold medallist in the 100m, as well as 200m breaststroke at the World Student Games in Napoli, Italy, and two more gold medals at the 2019 Tokyo World Cup in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.
What is perhaps less known about the 23-year-old swimming sensation is that she has just completed her BCom (financial sciences) at the University of Pretoria.
She was one of 11000 students who graduated in a virtual ceremony last month. “It definitely helped because mentally it ‘balanced’ me in terms of swimming and studying. In other words, while I enjoy focusing on swimming, it also focused my mind on studying, which in turn switched off my mind from swimming.
“The university and faculty of economic and management sciences personnel were not only very supportive when I missed tests or exams by allowing me to write them on different dates, but they also assisted me to extend my year because I was away for swimming competitions quite often. So, it definitely contributed to my success in respect to graduating as well as swimming,” Schoenmaker said.
She is one of the thousands of new graduates to celebrate the completion of their studies online, instead of attending a traditional graduation ceremony.
To mark the occasion, Schoenmaker shared images of herself in graduation attire with her parents.
In a fun tribute to her sporting career, underneath the attire Schoenmaker was dressed in a swimming costume.
One of the things the swimmer readily admits is that excelling in the pool and the lecture halls of the university came with her having to master the balancing act, something that would not have been possible without passion and motivation.
Asked what motivated and kept her striving for more, she said the ability to do what she loved came out tops, every time. “My love for swimming makes me want to get up every morning and go to training. It’s like my second home. Being fortunate enough to travel the world doing what I love, seeing new places and meeting new people and sports heroes, motivates me a lot,” she said.
With the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping through the world, the Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed, and this is one of the arenas where Schoenmaker had hoped to dazzle.
She is, like most South Africans, at home, taking the lockdown period one day at a time.
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