Swimming World Presents – Proving Their Mettle: South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and Teammates Working To Show The World How Good They Can Be

SW December 2020 - Proving Their Mettle - Tatjana Schoenmaker and South Africa's Women's Swimming Team
South Africa's Tatjana Schoenmaker [PHOTO CREDIT: BECCA WYANT]

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Proving Their Mettle: South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and Teammates Working To Show The World How Good They Can Be

By Andy Ross

After the South African media made several disparaging comments about the women’s swimming team in 2016 when none of their swimmers had qualified for the Rio Olympics, Tatjana Schoenmaker and her South African teammates have been supporting one another and working together to show just how good they can be.

 

When 22-year-old Tatjana Schoenmaker touched the wall in the 200 meter breaststroke final at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest, she was overcome with emotion. The South African won the silver medal in her best event and set an African record in the semifinals with a 2:21.79.

Her time in the final was slower than the night before, but it didn’t matter. She was on the podium and would be seeing her country’s flag raised at the major international meet of the year. It was a huge moment not only for her, but also for women’s swimming in South Africa.

It was the first medal ever won by a South African female swimmer at Worlds. And to make it even more special, she was handed her medal by South African Olympic champion Penny Heyns, who was a champion breaststroker in her heyday during the 1990s until she retired in 2001.

Heyns, who captured two gold medals at Atlanta in 1996, is the only woman in Olympic history to have won both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. Even though Heyns had an illustrious career, she never made it to the podium at the World Championships, finishing fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 breast at the 1998 Worlds in Perth, Australia.

“It meant so much,” Schoenmaker said of her silver medal performance. “You can see it was an overwhelming experience. I still remember after the race and walking to my bag to go and get changed, it just didn’t feel real. I was like, ‘Tatjana, you just won silver,’ and it felt so weird.

“For me, it was my first World Champs, so I just wanted to really experience it. It was so nice racing the world’s best and being able to try and swim fast times in this crazy new experience.
“And then having Penny Heyns hand me my medal—it was so special because…what are the odds? She’s standing there giving me my medal—it was overwhelming, but it was such an honor to be able to share that moment with Penny. She is honestly a true champion for South Africa.”

Just three years earlier, however, women’s swimming in South Africa wasn’t nearly as promising. In 2016, not one single female swimmer had qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio. And their country hadn’t won an Olympic medal in a women’s event since Heyns took bronze in the 100 breast in 2000!

To make matters worse, the women’s team certainly didn’t receive any sympathy from the local media. In fact, because of their disparaging comments, the swimmers were put on the defensive.
“It was for us to show them (the media) because we really got bad media exposure in 2016,” Schoenmaker said. “They basically said no girls made it and that we were basically useless! And we were those girls! It wasn’t a nice feeling because we were all so young. One of the oldest girls on the team is Tayla Lovemore (now 25), and she is coming through.”

And so now is the rest of the team…

 

To read more about the South African Women’s Swimming Team,

check out the full Swimming World December 2020 issue…Click here to download now!

SW December 2020 - World Swimmers of the Millenium (So Far) Cover[PHOTO CREDIT: PETER H. BICK]

 

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Swimming World Magazine December 2020 Issue

FEATURES

012 SWIMMERS OF THE MILLENNIUM’S FIRST 20 YEARS (2000-19)
by John Lohn, David Rieder, Andy Ross and Dan D’Addona
World & American: Michael Phelps & Katie Ledecky
European: Pieter van den Hoogenband & Inge de Bruijn
Pacific Rim: Ian Thorpe & Leisel Jones
African: Chad le Clos & Kirsty Coventry

019 PROVING THEIR METTLE
by Andy Ross
After the South African media made several disparaging comments about the women’s swimming team in 2016 when none of their swimmers had qualified for the Rio Olympics, Tatjana Schoenmaker and her South African teammates have been supporting one another and working together to show just how good they can be.

021 FIT TO BE TIED
by John Lohn
At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Sweden’s Gunnar Larsson was awarded the gold medal in the men’s 400 IM, edging USA’s Tim McKee by 2-thousandths of a second. Subsequently, international swimming rules were changed to record results to 1-hundredth of a second, allowing for ties among swimmers with identical times.

034 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH CLAIRE CURZAN
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COACHING

010 TOUGHEST WORKOUTS (Part 2)
by Michael J. Stott
Swimming has had its share of taskmasters over the years. In the second of a two-part series on workouts designed to push swimmers to their limits are some sets from respected authoritative figures at Germantown, Arden Hills, Bluefish and Florida who have trained exceptional athletes that have excelled on the international stage.

038 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: BREASTSTROKE BREATHING HEAD TIMING DELAY
by Rod Havriluk
In breaststroke, most swimmers learn to synchronize their head and arm motions to breathe and to recover to the non-012 breathing position. However, a delay in the head motion both to breathe and to recover affords benefits of less resistance, more propulsion and a faster stroke rate.

040 SPECIAL SETS: DAVE SALO—THE MAN AND THE METHOD
by Michael J. Stott
Dave Salo has represented the United States as an Olympic, World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships coach and has guided the USC Trojans to 18 NCAA Top 10 finishes in 14 years. But his enduring legacy will most likely be his training mindset that emphasizes race-pace training and quality over quantity.

043 Q&A WITH COACH MICHAEL BROOKS
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN THOMAS HAGAR
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

037 DRYSIDE TRAINING: POSSIBLY THE 5 BEST DRYLAND EXERCISES EVER!
by J.R. Rosania
If done properly and regulary, these exercises can enhance your stroke, technique, power and speed.

JUNIOR SWIMMER

047 UP & COMERS: ERIKA PELAEZ
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT THE ART OF SWIMMING?

026 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

036 DADS ON DECK

046 HASTY HIGH POINTERS

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

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