By Karien Jonckheere
GQEBERHA – Tatjana Schoenmaker was so eager for her teammate to qualify for the Olympics at the SA Swimming Championships in Gqeberha on Sunday that she didn’t even notice she’d shattered yet another national and continental record herself.
The 23-year-old has swum three individual events at these championships and has bettered her own record in all three. On Sunday it was the 100m breaststroke, where she stopped the clock on 1:05.74 which puts her second in the world this season, behind only Olympic champion Lilly King.
But she was more concerned about 17-year-old Lara van Niekerk, who just missed out on the qualifying mark by .33 of a second.
“I was so focused on Lara because I just wanted her to qualify so when I touched, I was just trying to see where she was,” admitted Schoenmaker afterwards.
“And then when I looked at the board I saw she missed it – without even realising I swum my own PB so it wasn’t really where my mind was.
“I’ve always just wanted to improve my 100 for the 200 … but after such an amazing 200 race I could have literally left this place with a smile anyway,” she added, explaining a record in the 100m event was an unexpected bonus.
Meanwhile, Chad le Clos managed to hold onto his 100m butterfly title by just two hundredths of a second. While he was happy to complete the 50, 100 and 200m butterfly treble, the 2012 Olympic champion (who had already achieved the Olympic qualifying mark in the 100m) was disappointed with the time of 52.13 seconds. Like Schoenmaker, he was even more upset for training partner Matt Sates, though, who just missed out on an Olympic qualifying time after finishing in 52.15.
“I’m very sad for Matt because he didn’t get the time,” said Le Clos afterwards. “It was a good race. I expected it to be tough out there because he’s in great shape. I wanted to control the race better though. I wanted to take it to him in the first 50m, but then he touched ahead of me and I knew I had work to do.
“It’s a good morale win for me just because of where we are in the training – to pull out a win like that – the old Chad coming from the back.
“I think Matt can get that qualifying time tomorrow [in the 200m individual medley] He’s got the speed… he just needs to work that backstroke and his freestyle is there so we’ll see what happens but I really hope he gets it.”