Schoenmaker Leads the Way in Women’s 100m Breaststroke
South African Olympic silver medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker has won the women’s 100m breaststroke event at the SA National Aquatic Championships in Gqeberha. Schoenmaker beat Commonwealth Games champion Lara van Niekerk to win the national title and equaled the second-fastest time in the world this year with a time of 1:05.89. Although the race was not about winning titles for Schoenmaker, it was more about the personal goals she set for herself. She was relieved to break the 1-minute 6-second barrier again after winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 1:04.8.
Schoenmaker praised the challenging depth of the South African women’s breaststroke group, which includes world-class swimmers. She noted how it is a mental challenge to continuously push herself every time she swims, especially when competing against world-class swimmers. Nevertheless, in July, Schoenmaker and van Niekerk comfortably achieved qualifying times for the Swimming World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
Records Tumble in Men’s Programme
The Swimming National Aquatic Championships’ men’s program also saw impressive performances. Pieter Coetzé set a new South African and African record in the 100m backstroke, clocking 52.78, beating the record he set last year at the World Championships in Peru. Coetzé was happy with his performance and set the second-fastest time in the world this year. He had already beaten the World Championship mark in the morning heats and remained comfortable heading into the final.
In the Para Swimming World Championship qualifying event, several disabled swimmers achieved their A qualifying times. Christian Sadie, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, earned an A qualifier in the S7 100m backstroke with a time of 1:14.24, and Nathan Hendrick qualified in the S13 100m backstroke with a time of 1:03.32.
Women’s 200m Freestyle and Para Swimming Championship
Aimee Canny won the women’s 200m freestyle event with a time of 1:57.82, claiming another qualifying time—canny trains at the University of Virginia in the USA, where she trains alongside world-class swimmers. The Para Swimming World Championship qualifying event saw several disabled swimmers successfully achieve their A qualifying times.
Amkele Qamarana achieved a personal best time of 34.47 in the SB15 50m breaststroke, while Kat Swanepoel qualified in the SB3 50m breaststroke at 58.54 in the heats. These performances illustrate the strong commitment of South African swimmers to achieving their best performances, regardless of the challenges posed by disabilities.
The SA National Aquatic Championship continues in Gqeberha until Sunday, 16 April, as athletes aim to break records and achieve their best performances. The event is a testament to the growth of swimming in South Africa, with world-class athletes setting new standards and overcoming challenges in pursuit of excellence.