GWANGJU – Tatjana Schoenmaker powered her way to an African record in the 200m breaststroke semifinal at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Pretoria swimmer finished second behind defending champion Yuliya Efimova in 2:21.79 to set the new mark and book her place in Friday’s final.
Joining her in the final is teammate and training partner Kaylene Corbett, who finished fourth in her semifinal in a personal best time of 2:24.18.
“It was so amazing. I can’t even explain. You know you’re going well. It was nice and comfortable in the beginning but you’re never sure if the time is going to be good or not,” said Schoenmaker. “I’m extremely happy. I did my best and God did the rest. I cannot believe it.”
Also thrilled with her performance, 20-year-old Corbett added: “It was amazing. It’s such an experience swimming here and to compete with the best is honestly my favourite thing ever. This is what we work for. We’re racing at such a high level, it just gets harder and harder but it was so much fun.”
In the morning session, US-based Chris Reid could only manage sixth place in his 200m backstroke heat in 1:58.44. That meant he missed out on the semi-finals after finishing in 20th place overall.
Erin Gallagher was also 20th overall in the women’s 100m freestyle, finishing seventh in her heat in 54.64 seconds.
Alaric Basson finished fourth in his 200m breaststroke heat, but his time of 2:13.73 was only 32nd quickest overall.
Friday’s action will see Chad le Clos kicking off his campaign for a second medal at these championships when he takes on the 100m butterfly heats in the morning session.
Ryan Coetzee will also be contesting that event. Nathania van Niekerk will be in action in the 200m backstroke heats and Olympic finalist Brad Tandy will be chasing a semifinal spot in the 50m freestyle heats.
Gallagher will feature in the first round of the 50m butterfly, while 17-year-old Duné Coetzee will take on the 800m freestyle.
In the later finals session, Schoenmaker and Corbett will be looking to become the first South African women to claim long course world championship medals in the 200m breaststroke final.
African News Agency (ANA)