South Africa Championships: Tatjana Schoenmaker Wins 200 Breast in Second-Fastest Time This Year; Chad le Clos Wins 100 Free

Tatjana Schoenmaker in the 200m breatstroke
Photo Courtesy: Swimming South Africa

Tatjana Schoenmaker secured the national 200m breaststroke title in the second fastest time in the world this year at the South Africa National Aquatic Championships in Gqeberha on Friday.

The world record holder and Olympic champion in the event cruised to victory in a time of 2:22.44 with her training partner, Kaylene Corbett, second in 2:25.40 – both A qualifying times for the Swimming World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan in July.

Schoenmaker admitted afterwards that the vocal crowd at the Newton Park Swimming Pool had her thinking she might be closer to her world record of 2:18.95, but she was nonetheless thrilled with the result.

“I was obviously hoping for a much faster time,” she said afterwards. “I think with the crowd going so crazy you assume you’re on a really good time, not that I’m not incredibly grateful for a 2:22 though. I think the excitement just made me think it was a lot faster but we’ll get there. It’s step-by-step. I think in 2021 before the Olympics I also swam a 2:22 in the heats so we’ll get there.”

Kaylene Corbett in the 200m breaststroke

Kaylene Corbett. Photo Courtesy: Swimming South Africa.

Corbett’s morning time of 2:24.93 in the heats was quicker than her final, but both times were under the A qualifying mark.

“Obviously it’s really nice to get the time done in the morning. It just takes the pressure off for whatever is to come after that,” she said.

Meanwhile, also thinking he was slightly faster than the clock showed on the night was Chad le Clos who fended off his teenage challengers in the 100m freestyle. Le Clos, who won Olympic silver in the 200m freestyle in Rio in 2016, has decided to focus his efforts on the shorter event, along with the butterfly. His win on Friday in 48.97 seconds was a big step up on a fifth place at last year’s championships in a sluggish 50.86, but the 31-year-old knows there’s still a long way to go – including achieving the A qualifying time for the World Championships in the event.

Chad le Clos wins 100m freestyle

Photo Courtesy: Swimming South Africa

“I thought it was a bit faster to be honest but it’s ok, it’s good. I’m happy with the win.

“If I want to be competitive, I have to swim 47s so let’s see… but a lot of improvements still need to be made from my side. I’m nowhere near where I need to be long course but I believe by world champs I’ll be very close to a podium in whatever races we swim, and then obviously next year we try and shock the world again,” he added of the Paris Olympic Games.

After securing the 200m freestyle title on the opening night of the South African championships on Thursday, Aimee Canny also successfully defended her 100m freestyle title. The 19-year-old finished in a time of 54.65, just missing out on the A qualification mark but nevertheless securing the title ahead of Rebecca Meder (54.88) and African record holder Erin Gallagher (55.09).

“I obviously would have liked to have gone a bit faster but where this race is in the gala – I’ve already had three tough days – I was happy with that time,” she said afterwards. “I went out quick. I was happy with the speed I went out in and I think I’ve just got to work on doing a bit better at the back end but it was a good race.”

Meder later went on to add to her haul, claiming the 400m individual medley title in a B qualifying time of 4:50.55, with Matt Sates doing the same in the men’s race in a time of 4:22.26. Matthew Randle also completed a breaststroke double of his own, adding the 200m title to his 100m win, in a B qualifying time of 2:14.40.

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Once again, numerous South Africa swimmers with a disability also achieved A qualifying times for the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester from 31 July to 6 August.

Christian Sadie dipped well under the required S7 50m butterfly qualifying time, finishing his heat in 29.94, while Amkele Qamarana did so in the S15 50m butterfly final in 30.98. James Willers achieved the required A qualifying time in the S15 50m butterfly in 31.89. There were A qualifying times for visually impaired swimmers Alani Ferreira in the SB13 100m breaststroke (1:23.43) and Cornelle Leach in the SB12 100m breaststroke (1:31.52).

Swimming action continues at the Newton Park Swimming Pool in Gqeberha until Sunday, 16 April.

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