Tatjana and Kaylene deliver two-pronged attack at world champs
Tuks teammates Tatjana Schoenmaker and Kaylene Corbett delivered a two-pronged attack at the World Championships on Thursday to qualify for Friday’s 200m breaststroke final.
Schoenmaker clocked 2min 21.79sec in Gwangju as she broke her own African record while finishing second in the faster semifinal of the evening‚ won by Russia’s defending champion Yuliya Efimova in 2:21.20.
In the second semifinal Corbett stepped on the gas over the second half as she powered to fourth spot and a 2:24.17 personal best.
Not since the 2000 Sydney Olympics has SA had two women in the same final at a major gala‚ when Penny Heyns took the 100m breaststroke bronze and Sarah Poewe ended fourth.
Schoenmaker and Corbett‚ first and fourth at the World Student Games in Italy recently‚ will line up seeded second and eighth.
“It was so amazing‚ I can’t even explain‚” said financial sciences student Schoenmaker‚ also the Commonwealth Games double breaststroke champion. “It was nice and comfortable in the beginning … [but] I wasn’t sure‚ was this time going to be good or not? I just tried to stay in my own lane. I’m extremely happy‚ literally I gave my best and God did the rest.”
Corbett‚ who ended eighth at the Commonwealth Games‚ had to produce a personal best to earn her spot in the final. If she’d matched her previous 2:24.59 best she would have missed out. “It was obviously amazing‚” said the education student. “To compete with the best‚ it’s honestly my favourite thing ever. This is what we work for.”
Only one other swimmer from the Commonwealth Games final is in Friday’s showdown: Britain’s silver medallist Molly Renshaw‚ who is seeded fourth overall in South Korea.
Canada is the only other nation with two swimmers in the final‚ although neither Sydney Pickrem nor Kelsey Lauren Wog were in the Gold Coast race in 2018.
American Lilly King‚ who won the 100m breaststroke earlier in the week‚ was disqualified in the morning heats for not touching properly at the first turn.
Schoenmaker has a great chance of becoming the first SA woman to make a World Championship podium. She is competing in her favourite 200m event and of her seven rivals on Friday‚ only Efimova has swum faster than her.
“I’m ready to race tomorrow‚” said Schoenmaker‚ who ended sixth in the 100m final. “I’m not going to aim for a gold‚ I just want to give my best. Making the finals at world champs already is insane.”
SA’s best female World Championship performances so far are Suzaan van Biljon and Poewe ending fourth in 2007 and 2001, respectively. Heyns was off form when she finished fifth and sixth in 1998. Like Schoenmaker‚ the trio were also breaststrokers.
Chad Le Clos‚ bronze medallist in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday‚ returns to action in the 100m ’fly on Friday‚ going up against defending champion Caeleb Dressel‚ who blasted the world’s second-fastest 100m freestyle time on Thursday.