Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Schoenmaker wins SA’s first medal at World Aquatics Champs

The South African star picked up the silver medal in her specialist stroke.

Tatjana Schoenmaker lived up to the hype on Tuesday, pocketing the South African team’s first medal at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka.

Lining up as one of only two South Africans competing in the late session on day three of the swimming competition at the biennial showpiece, Schoenmaker grabbed silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke final.

Second World Champs medal

The Olympic 200m champion was well off the pace of Lithuanian gold medallist Ruta Meilutyte, who touched the wall in 1:04.62, and she was well short of the African record (1:04.82) she set when she earned silver at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.

Schoenmaker did enough, however, to secure the runner-up spot, clocking 1:05.84 over two lengths to snatch her second career World Championships medal in her specialist stroke.

American swimmer Lydia Jacoby took third position in 1:05.94 and her compatriot, world record holder Lilly King, settled for fourth spot in 1:06.02.

“I didn’t expect that (medal),” said Schoenmaker. “The last world championships I was at (in 2019) I came sixth in the 100m so to medal is incredible.

“I don’t train for the 100, I train for the 200 so I’m just grateful that my speed is there. Obviously the 200 is more my main focus, but I’m very grateful that my 100 time is fast because that helps a lot with the 200. But it is obviously a completely different race.”

Other swimmers

Earlier on day three of the swimming gala in Fukuoka, Michael Houlie was the only South African to put up a fight in the first-round heats.

Houlie did well to clock 27.31 in the opening round of the men’s 50m breaststroke, but he went on to finish 16th overall in the semi-finals in 27.57, missing out on a spot in the final.

In other events, 19-year-old Aimee Canny was 24th overall in the women’s 200m freestyle heats in 1:59.30 and Righardt Muller was 31st in the men’s 200m freestyle in 1:59.30.

Both swimmers missed out on places in the semi-finals of their respective events.

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swimming Tatjana Schoenmaker