Tatjana culls Penny Heyns's last SA record
Tatjana Schoenmaker slayed the last of Penny Heyns’s national records on Sunday as she added the 50m breaststroke SA short-course crown to her 100m and 200m titles.
She was one of eight swimmers to beat qualifying marks for the world championships in China in December on the final day of the SA trials at the King’s Park pool‚ although Doug Erasmus was the only new face to make the list that totalled 11 in the end.
Schoenmaker‚ who took Heyns’s 50m and 100m long-course marks at the Commonwealth Games in April‚ beat the longest-standing SA record in the morning heats.
Heyns’s 30.60 had stood since 1999‚ but Schoenmaker went 30.44 in the preliminaries and then lowered it to 30.39 in the afternoon final.
“It’s an honour to do it‚” said Schoenmaker‚ who now owns five of the six senior national breaststroke records across short-course and Olympic-distance long-course.
“She [Heyns] did it without goggles. I don’t know if I would be able to do it‚” she added.
The only mark not in her hands is the 2min 18.73sec for the 200m breaststroke set by Suzaan van Biljon a decade ago‚ although Schoenmaker came desperately close during the gala‚ missing out by two-tenths of a second.
The B Com student at the University of Pretoria will surely get there‚ although it’s unlikely to be at the world championships‚ which she could miss if her university exam schedule doesn’t fit in.
The oldest SA record now belongs to another former Olympic gold medallist‚ Ryk Neethling‚ whose 800m freestyle short-course mark dates back to March 2000.
Van der Burgh‚ with only three weeks of training under his belt‚ trailed Brad Tandy into the second lap‚ but he powered hard to win the 50m breaststroke in 26.47.
Tandy was second in 26.66‚ also a qualifying mark.
“I’m happy with the times given the training I’ve done‚” said Van der Burgh‚ who also qualified in the 100m breaststroke. “I’ve got four months to the world champs‚ that’s a full training cycle.
“That’s what I did before Commonwealth Games and that worked out.”
Van der Burgh‚ who will probably not do the World Cup events to focus on his training and business‚ is set to compete at his 12th consecutive world championship‚ across short course and long course.
And he’s won at least one medal at every one of them. “I’ve won a medal every time I’ve made a world championship final‚ except one.”
That was in 2014 when‚ coming back from a shoulder injury‚ he ended fourth in the 100m‚ but he still made the podium in the 50m.
Van der Burgh‚ 30‚ has yet to commit to the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m taking it six months at a time and I’m still enjoying it‚ but I am getting to the end of the toothpaste tube‚” he said with a smile.
Erin Gallagher broke the SA 50m freestyle record as she notched up her fourth qualifying time of the gala‚ adding to her success in the 100m freestyle‚ 50m butterfly and 100m individual medley.
Rebecca Meder (400m individual medley)‚ Ayrton Sweeney (400m IM)‚ Ryan Coetzee (100m butterfly) also achieved additional qualifying times.
But poor Erasmus‚ who cracked his in the 50m freestyle heats‚ missed out on automatic selection after finishing fourth in the final behind Tandy‚ Zane Waddell and Coetzee.
Preference goes to the first two in the final and he would need an injury or withdrawal to make it.
With Schoenmaker an uncertainty‚ the SA team could number just nine.
The 11 qualifiers are:
Men: Brad Tandy (50m freestyle‚ 50m breaststroke‚ 50m butterfly*)‚ Zane Waddell (50m free‚ 100m free‚ 50m backstroke)‚ Chad Le Clos (100m freestyle‚ 50 butterfly)‚ Cameron van der Burgh (50m breaststroke‚ 100m breast)‚ Ayrton Sweeney (200m breaststroke‚ 400m individual medley)‚ Ryan Coetzee (50m butterfly‚ 100m fly)‚ Doug Erasmus (50m free*)
Women: Erin Gallagher (50m free‚ 100m free‚ 50m fly‚ 100m IM)‚ Tatjana Schoenmaker (50m breast‚ 100m breast‚ 200m breast)‚ Emily Visagie (200m breast)‚ Rebecca Meder (200m IM‚ 400m IM).
* - Not top two in the A-final.