Olympic Champion Tatjana Schoenmaker Marries Joel Smith, Brother-in-Law of Rugby Star

by Riley Overend 5

April 08th, 2024 Africa, International, News

The swimming world now has its own Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Reigning Olympic champion and former world record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker will be racing with her new last name for the first time at this week’s South African Championships after marrying sports agent Joel Smith in November.

The couple went public with their relationship early last year before getting engaged in April. Seven months later, Schoenmaker and Smith tied the knot at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve in Robertson, South Africa, a couple hours from Cape Town.

Joel Smith is the brother-in-law of South African rugby star Siya Kolisi, who currently captains the national team and became the first Black man ever to hold the position in 2018. Smith’s sister, Rachel, married Kolisi back in 2016.

Schoenmaker is aiming to qualify for her second Olympics next week at the South African Championships in Gqeberha. A few years ago in Tokyo, she broke the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:18.95) while also picking up a silver medal in the 100 breast (1:05.22). Her global standard in the 200 breast stood for almost two years before Russian teenager Evgeniia Chikunova lowered it to 2:17.55 last April.

Last summer in Fukuoka, Schoenmaker became the first South African woman to win a world title with her 200 breast victory in 2:20.80. It marked a bounce-back performance after sitting out the 2022 World Championships.

At December’s Trials for the 2024 World Championships — just about a month after saying, “I do” — the 26-year-old posted her fastest 200 breast time since the Tokyo Olympics at 2:20.30. Schoenmaker ended up skipping the 2024 World Championships.

“I’m feeling good,” she said in December. “Sometimes you feel good and the results aren’t the same so I’m just glad that the results and the way I feel are matching.”

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Alison England
1 month ago

Why would she give up a lovely name like that to be a Smith?

1 month ago

Good thing you didn’t forget the last three words of that headline

1 month ago

Rowdy Gaines breathes a sigh of relief. But then again, so does everyone who had to hear him pronounce ‘Skoonmaker’

1 month ago

Loss of one of the coolest last names in swimming )): (all jokes aside, they’re a beautiful couple and look very happy together ☺️)

1 month ago

This has been long since February or so.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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