Olympics: Tatjana Schoenmaker Beats Lilly King Head-to-Head in 100 Breast Semifinals

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Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro -- USA Today Sports

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Olympics: Tatjana Schoenmaker Beats Lilly King Head-to-Head in 100 Breast Semifinals

After Tatjana Schoenmaker took down Lilly King’s Olympic record in the women’s 100 breast prelims, Schoenmaker scored a triumph over the American in a semifinal showdown. With Schoenmaker in lane four and King in lane five in the second semifinal heat, Schoenmaker took a narrow lead at the halfway point and actually pulled away from the world-record holder to claim the top seed for Tuesday’s final. Schoenmaker swam a 1:05.07, off her prelims time of 1:04.82, and King touched second in 1:05.40. King has a season-best mark of 1:04.72 that narrowly ranks first in the world.

Schoenmaker arrived in Tokyo seeded fifth in the 100 breast at 1:05.74, maybe making her an outside medal threat in the 100-meter event while she was a slight gold-medal favorite in the 200 breast. Now, Schoenmaker is in prime position to hand King her first loss in international competition in the 100 breast since her Olympic debut in 2016. That semifinal race was actually the first time in King’s decorated international career that any swimmer had ever touched the wall ahead of King.

At the end of the race, Schoenmaker grabbed the wall to catch her breath, indicating that maybe she had given a pretty strong effort, while King seemed confident that she had more to come. We will see if King is able to deliver in a high-pressured situation, as she has done on so many occasion.

“It’s OK. It was a close race, and I still have a little bit left in the tank for tomorrow. You always want the last race to be the best race, so that’s what we’re going for,” King told NBC’s Michele Tafoya. “It’s going to be a tight race. I’m not going to lie. I’m going to have to come in really extra prepared tomorrow to swim fast in the morning and hope it brings out the best.”

Regarding Schoenmaker, King told Swimming World, “She swam it a lot like I do. So it’s going to be a dogfight to the finish.” And she admitted to being surprised by Schoenmaker’s breakthrough performance in the 100-meter event. “A little bit, not going to lie. But hey, I love competition. I thrive on that so that’s only better for me.”

King’s American teammate, 17-year-old Alaska native Lydia Jacoby won the first semifinal heat in 1:05.72, coming back from fourth place at the halfway point to touch out Sweden’s Sophie Hansson, who swam a time of 1:05.81.

No other swimmer broke 1:06, but keep an eye on the fifth seed, Russia’s Yuliya Efimova, King’s longtime rival who claimed silver at the 2016 Games. Efimova, now 29, would need a huge drop to end up on the podium Tuesday, although her lifetime best at 1:04.36 ranks third all-time.

Efimova’s fellow Russian Evgeniia Chikunova qualified sixth in 1:06.47, and Italy’s Martina Carraro was seventh in 1:06.50. Ireland’s Mona McSharry, who just completed her freshman year at Tennessee, swam a 1:06.59, which earned her lane eight in the final by just 0.01 over Australia’s Chelsea Hodges (1:06.60).

Finalists:

  1. Tatjana Schoenmaker (South Africa), 1:05.07
  2. Lilly King (USA), 1:05.40
  3. Lydia Jacoby (USA), 1:05.72
  4. Sophie Hansson (Sweden), 1:05.81
  5. Yuliya Efimova (Russia), 1:06.34
  6. Evgeniia Chikunova (Russia), 1:06.47
  7. Martina Carraro (Italy), 1:06.50
  8. Mona McSharry (Ireland), 1:06.59

1 comment

  1. avatar
    john g picone

    King was shockingly badly behaved again before the race, trying to intimidate schoenmaker and staring rudely right at her just before the start. Terrible reflection on her team and country.

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