South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker finished 6th in the 100m breaststroke at World champs. Photo: Lee Jin-man/AP Photo

GWANGJU – SA swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker made a strong challenge for a podium place, finishing sixth in the women’s 100m breaststroke at the Fina World Long-Course Championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Schoenmaker came up against a world-class field which included world record holder Lilly King of the United States and the former Russian world champion Yuliya Efimova.

Schoenmaker finished in a time of one minute 06.60 seconds (1:06.60) at her first senior world championships. 

King raced to victory touching first in a time of 1:04.93 with Efimova finishing second behind her in a time of 1:05.49.

Schoenmaker’s national record of 1:06.32 she posted at the recent World Student Games would have earned her a bronze medal.

The Commonwealth Games double gold medallist, though, still has a shot at becoming the first South African woman to step onto the podium at the World Long-Course Championships.

“I was shaking already on the blocks and I was just hoping I don’t false-start,” Schoenmaker said.

“I am excited about the 200m, it will be a different type of pacing,” concluded Schoenmaker.

Four-time Olympic medallist Chad le Clos will get to defend his 200m butterfly title for a shot at his fifth global title after finishing second in his semifinal with a time of 1:55.88.

Le Clos lead the race until the halfway mark before Hungarian Kristof Milak pulled ahead to win the race in a time of 1:52.96.

“I am very happy, I just wanted to make the final, it is going to be tough tomorrow night, he (Kristof Milak) is far, far ahead of everyone - we’ll see, I’ve come for the fight, I’ve come to race,” said Le Clos.

Le Clos coasted into the semifinals during the heats winning his heat in a time of 1:56.17 which was the fourth-fastest time of the morning.  

Youth Olympics gold medallist Michael Houlie narrowly missed out on a spot in the semifinals in his pet 50m breaststroke heats.

The 19-year-old touched fifth in his heats with a time 27.41 seconds, more than half a second short of his personal best. Houlie missed the semifinal by one spot posting the 19th fastest time of the heats.

Rebecca Meder, the youngest member of the South African contingent, finished 30th overall in the women’s 200m freestyle with a time of 2:02.70, nearly two seconds slower than her personal best.

 African News Agency (ANA)