2021 SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- April 7th – April 10th
- Newton Park, Gqeberha, South Africa
- Olympic Selection Criteria
- Primary Olympic Selection Meet
- LCM Format (50m)
- Live Results
- Live Stream (Youtube)
On the first night of racing at the 2021 South African National Championships, Tatjana Schoenmaker raced to victory in the women’s 50 breaststroke with a 30.32.
That’s quicker than her PB and previous national record heading into the event of 30.52 which she posted in December of 2020 at the NTS Championships. Schoenmaker actually broke the national record twice in one day, first hitting a 30.42 in the prelims and then bringing it down to a 30.32 at night.
Schoenmaker’s time makes her the second-fastest woman in the event worldwide this season behind only Benedetta Pilato’s 29.61.
Schoenmaker was joined on the podium in the women’s 50 breaststroke by Lara van Niekerk who was a 31.03 for silver and Caitlin de Lange who was a 31.87 for bronze.
For a full recap of racing at Day one of the 2021 South African National Championships, click here.
The 2021 South African National Championships will serve as the selection meet for the country’s Olympic Squad in Tokyo this summer. While to 50 breast isn’t an Olympic event, Schoemaker will be looking to make her first-ever Olympic squad in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.
Schoenmaker is the first South African woman to race her way to the top of the worldwide breaststroke ranks since Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Penny Heyns retired from the sport in 2001. Heyns won gold in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes at the 1996 Olympic Games with a 1:07.73 in the former and a 2:25.41 Olympic record in the latter. With those wins, Heyns became and still is the only woman to win Olympic gold in both of the breaststroke events at a single Olympic Games.
In a recent interview with Independent Online, Schoenmaker discussed her mindset heading into the Olympic summer.
“If I can make a final, it would be amazing. I think all those things (previous medals) are already such career highlights. I think there’s nothing more you can do. I think just to keep your head in it, and not to create too much pressure on yourself by people’s expectations,” Schoenmaker said.
“I think I’m just there to do my best, give my best. If I swim a PB there, that’s amazing. I think not a lot of people or some people can say they actually went to the Olympics and swam their best times and stuff.
“I think the pressure gets a lot there as well. I am definitely just excited to be able to swim my best times.
“And ya, we’ll see what it does. If I get to the final … They say if you have a lane, you have a chance. I mean, Wayde van Niekerk came from lane eight (to win gold)” said Schoenmaker.
While Schoenmaker isn’t a shoo-in to reach the podium in either event, she’s currently in the position to at least reach the A final in Tokyo if she can retain her current world rankings this season. Schoenmaker has been a 1:05.89 South African record in the 100 breast this season for third in the world and a 2:23.05 in the 200, just off her national record of 2:21.79 for sixth in the world.