Africa: Schoenmaker Becomes First SA LC World Medalist In 200 Breast


After coming close in the 100, 22-year-old Tatjana Schoenmaker became the first South African woman in history to win a medal at the Long Course World Championships on day six in Gwangju, claiming silver in the women’s 200 breaststroke.

Coming off back-to-back 100 and 200 breast sweeps at the 2018 Commonwealth and 2019 World University Games, she swam to a new Continental Record in the 200 semis in a time of 2:21.79, and then clocked 2:22.52 in the final to place second behind Yuliya Efimova (2:20.12).

Schoenmaker joins Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe and Farida Osman of Egypt as the only female African medalists at LC Worlds. Coventry was an eight-time medalist over three Championships from 2005 to 2009, while Osman was the bronze medalist in the 50 fly two years ago in Budapest.

The South African women have historically been most successful on the international stage in the breaststroke events, and the 200 in particular.

Suzaan van Biljon was a back-to-back finalist in the event in 2005 and 2007, placing fourth in Melbourne. She also won three career medals at Short Course Worlds in the event, including a gold in 2008, and Penny Heyns and Sarah Poewe were also medalists in breast at the SC Championships.

This year, Kaylene Corbett joined Schoenmaker in the final after going a PB of 2:24.18 in the semis, ultimately finishing eighth.

South African women do, however, have eight Olympic medals in swimming, including four that came after the inaugural FINA World Championships in 1973.

Heyns swept the 100 and 200 breaststroke in Atlanta in 1996 and added a bronze in the 100 four years later in Sydney. The other relatively recent medal came in the 100 backstroke, where Marianne Kriel won bronze in Atlanta.


Schoenmaker’s medal adds to the bronze Chad Le Clos won in the 200 fly on day four. Le Clos will go for another on day seven after qualifying fourth for the 100m final.

1 South Africa 0 1 1 2


  • Malagasy: women’s 200 back – Idealy Tendrinavalona, 2:29.80
  • Zimbabwean: men’s 50 free – Peter Wetzlar, 22.77
  • Namibian: men’s 50 free – Xander Skinner, 23.04
  • Ugandan: men’s 50 free – Atuhaire Ambala, 24.69

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3 years ago

All the swimswam staff should be exceedingly proud of themselves. Y’all are just churning out so much content, and so quickly, I really can’t keep up. Articles on event winners, worldwide national records (not just US), interesting firsts like this one, live updates, hype articles, relay speculation, race videos, session previews, team performance commentary, the list goes on. You give me all the coverage I want and then some. Everytime I check my phone to feed my swimming addiction, you’ve posted something new. I don’t know how you all are able to do all this work, but it is immensely appreciated. Bravo, kudos, I love you, thank you, keep up the good work. You’ve really changed the game for covering… Read more »

Reply to  Roch
3 years ago

Thank you Roch. We have an incredible team. One of our goals, especially during these big meets, is to always have a new piece of information every time you come back to the site. We’re just so thankful to everyone for reading, commenting, clicking, tweeting, and generally participating with us. It’s been a long week, but it’s been a fun week. Appreciate you reading and taking the time to leave a message.

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

Braden please upgrade SWSW server host.

The current one gets broken in heavy traffic.

3 years ago

And me. Two Olympic golds but no medals at LCM WC and only one bronze in the Commonwealth Games.

Texas Tap Water
3 years ago

This shocked me as well

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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