Schoenmaker Is First South African Female On Elite Roster Since 2013


While competing on day 5 of her nation’s championship meet, Tatjana Schoenmaker accomplished a major feat by becoming the first female to clock a World Championships qualifying time for Budapest. This is an especially important accomplishment, since South Africa’s roster was void of females at both the 2015 FINA World Championships and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Racing in the women’s 200m breaststroke tonight in Durban, Schoenmaker stopped the clock at a time of 2:25.23 to win the event comfortably under the 2:25.91 FINA qualifying mark. The 19-year-old had already missed opportunities to qualify the 50m and 100m breaststroke events earlier in the meet, but made the most of her signature event with the gold tonight. Schoenmaker suffered heartache last year when she painstakingly fell just .01 short of the automatic Olympic qualifying time in the 200m breaststroke. She was also within a second of the cut in the shorter 100m breaststroke as well, so tonight’s victory was extra sweet.

Post-race the University of Pretoria swimmer stated, “I am very happy because now I proved to everyone that there are girls out there who can swim the times. And it is not only me, the young girls are coming.

“I’m tired of everyone asking what the problem is with women’s swimming. There is nothing wrong, so I proved that we are still coming and they must just wait.” (

SwimSwam spoke to 2012 Olympian Karin Prinsloo (now Buys) in May of 2016 about the state of female swimming within the nation of South Africa. At that time, when it was apparent no females would represent South Africa in Rio, Prinsloo commented that “I’ve seen how hard some girls train, in and out the pool and that they very often beat the guys they are training against. So it isn’t always the case that we are lacking physical or mental toughness.”

During the interview, Prinsloo said, “we have a lot of rising potential and there were 16-19 year old girls that just missed the A-times. But between the ages of 20-25 years there is a massive gap.”

Based on the national championship results through 4 days, it does appear as if the South African women’s talent is bubbling just beneath the surface and it may just be a matter of time. At just 14 years of age, Rebecca Meder has collected 4 titles in Durban, including the 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 200m IM, notching World Junior Championship qualification times in each. Meder still has the 400m IM to race on Saturday.

Dune Coetzee, another 14-year-old, placed 3rd in the 400m freestyle, 2nd in the 100m butterfly and 4th in the 200m freestyle, while nailing the victory in the 200m butterfly race. She also qualified for the World Junior Championships, having nabbed qualifying marks in the 100 fly, 200 free and 200 butterfly.

At the very least, Schoenmaker may prove to be the catalyst to ignite the women’s swimming spark moving forward in South Africa.

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Human Ambition
6 years ago

Michelle Weber is indeed a female swimmer and placed 18:th in Rio after an impressive qualification.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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