Tatjana Schoenmaker qualified for the world championships in the 200m breaststroke on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

DURBAN – Striking a blow for local female swimmers, Tatjana Schoenmaker became the first South African woman since 2013 to qualify for the world championships by posting a quick time in the 200m breaststroke at the SA championships on Friday.

After missing two major events, the 2015 Fina World Championships and the Rio Olympic Games – where South Africa didn’t have a single female competitor – Schoenmaker wanted to give women’s swimming something to cheer about.

And she did just that in the King’s Park swimming pool on Friday, producing a time of 2:25.23.

“I am very happy because now I proved to everyone that there are girls out there who can swim the times. And it is not only me, the young girls are coming,” Schoenmaker said.

“I’m tired of everyone asking what the problem is with women’s swimming. There is nothing wrong, so I proved that we are still coming and they must just wait.”

Schoenmaker has been on the radar over the last year, first posting an Olympic qualifying time in early 2016, but she missed the mark by 0.01 of a second at the trials.

She met the mark at the Swimming SA Grand Prix Series in Stellenbosch in February, posting a new personal best of 2:24.93, taking a second-and-a-half off her previous top time.

But it may be all in vain once again, though, as the financial science student at the University of Pretoria is likely to miss the world championships due to her study commitments.

“I don’t want to miss too much of varsity. I really want to focus on my studies as well, but there is another opportunity at the World University Games (in Taipei), which is just outside of my exam times,” Schoenmaker said.

“It will fit perfectly into my schedule, but otherwise the main goal is the Commonwealth Games trials in December.”

Earlier, Chad le Clos declared “the king is back” when he posted his fastest time ever in South Africa in his 100m butterfly semi-final.

It was a night of renewal as Le Clos showed his best form in years, while rising star Zane Waddell clocked the eighth-fastest 100m freestyle ever by a South African with his time of 49.09.

Le Clos touched the wall in a time of 51.56, improving his season’s best by almost three-quarters of a second, which is the second fastest time in the world so far this year.

Chad le Clos posted his fastest ever 100m butterfly time in South Africa on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

He has been dominating proceedings this week and posted his fourth world qualifying time on Friday, adding the 100m butterfly to the 200m freestyle and butterfly, and the 100m freestyle from earlier in the week.

“I didn’t expect to go that fast, honestly – I was just hoping to break 52 seconds. I went all out and I didn’t hold back, so I am very happy with that,” Le Clos said.

“This is by far the fastest time at nationals. It is one second off my best unshaven, which is not too bad, so I am ready to improve on that.”

The 19-year-old Waddell was left to fight a lonely battle after Douglas Erasmus and Brad Tandy, who posted world qualifying times in the 50m freestyle during the morning heats, scratched from the final and semi-final respectively.

Tandy set another qualifying time during the semi-finals, clocking 21.99, with Erasmus doing the same in winning his race in 22.39.

Teen sensation Rebecca Meder claimed her fourth senior title of the championships when she touched the wall first in the women’s 800m freestyle in a time of 8:49.49.

The 14-year-old has already won gold in the 1 500m, 200m freestyle and the 200m individual medley, and will complete her campaign in Saturday’s 400m IM.

Independent Media