Gold medallist Zane Waddell of South Africa celebrates victory in South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Antonio Bronic

GWANGJU – The South African swimming team produced their fourth-best performance at the long course World Championships, having finished the event with a haul of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

That’s two more medals than the last World Championships in 2017 and saw them finishing 11th on the medal table ahead of Germany and Brazil.

The best was left for last, with 21-year-old Zane Waddell picking up the gold in the 50m backstroke in the final session of the competition on Sunday.

While Waddell’s performance was a bit of a surprise, much was expected of Tatjana Schoenmaker and Chad le Clos heading into the championships and they duly delivered.

Zane Waddell of South Africa reacts after winning the men's 50m backstroke. Photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina
Zane Waddell of South Africa reacts after winning the men's 50m backstroke. Photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina 

And while Schoenmaker made history in becoming South Africa’s first-ever female medallist at the event, Le Clos did not manage to defend his 200m butterfly title but instead settled for bronze – along with another bronze in the 100m event. 

Having revealed ahead of the event that he was suffering from a groin hernia, the 2012 Olympic champion was pleased to have simply reached the podium and promised big things for next year’s Olympic Games.

As for the rest of the 18-strong team, only Schoenmaker’s training partner, Kaylene Corbett, managed to get further than the heats – lining up with the eventual silver medallist in the 200m breaststroke final. The remainder of the team all fell at the first hurdle, which was of some concern to national coach Graham Hill.

“Chad and Tatjana bringing in the medals for us is what we were expecting from the two of them, and Zane at the end there was a bonus. Then Kaylene stepping up and making the final of the 200m breaststroke was a great result for us,” he said.

“In general, a few of the other swimmers were a little bit disappointing. No excuses there, swimming below par and not firing and getting the results we wanted so we’ll have to regroup."

Gold medallist Zane Waddell of South Africa celebrates victory in South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Antonio Bronic
Gold medallist Zane Waddell of South Africa celebrates victory in South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Antonio Bronic

“Those going to Morocco for the African Games in two and a half weeks’ time will have to step up again and try and perform a whole lot better than they’ve performed here and we’ll have to wait and see. 

"We have time before Tokyo and we’ll see if they can step up moving forward,” added Hill. 

African News Agency (ANA)