Tatjana Schoenmaker within a fingertip of world record.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Tatjana Schoenmaker came within just five hundredths of becoming the fastest women in history to swim the 200m breaststroke.
Just like in the 100m event a few days ago, the Pretoria swimmer was once again in spectacular form in the heats, powering her way to a national, continental and Olympic record in 1:19.16.
"Amazing. I must say, I was a little nervous coming in from the 100… I didn’t expect it to be that fast at all,” she said after taking over a second off her previous record.
Asked about getting so close to the world record, the 24-year-old laughed and added: “That time was really fast. When I saw five hundredths I was thinking – if I just had these [long] nails.
"But it was a really good race, I can’t complain. Yes, I was really close. But I’m definitely still going to try my best tomorrow and the day after. Hopefully I can get some recovery in because it is challenging going into the mornings."
Meanwhile, to add to Schoenmaker’s joy was the fact that her Tuks teammate Kaylene Corbett produced a massive personal best to win her own 200m breaststroke heat in 2:22.48 and qualify fourth fastest for Thursday’s semifinals.
"I think Kaylene motivated me. She swam a two-second PB [personal best] so I was like ‘Ah, maybe I can also swim well today.’ She definitely made me feel more relaxed going into the 200. I don’t think I have words to say how happy I am right now."
Corbett had not been able to contain her emotion while watching her teammate finishing in such a sensationally quick time.
"I can’t believe that," she beamed, wiping away the tears.
"We always say we’re sisters in Christ which is a huge thing for us. When she swims well, I’m excited, when I swim well, she’s excited… I can’t explain the feeling. Having her achieve her goals is something that I absolutely love to see and is extremely exciting and inspiring and pushes the whole squad, not just me."
As for her own impressive performance, Corbett added: "I’ve had a hard two years not swimming a personal best which is long for us. So I’ve been quite discouraged every now and then. I’m just so thankful. I just came in here to swim a personal best and that’s just God going over and above what I thought He was going to do."
A little later, Matt Sates celebrated his 18th birthday by securing a place in his first Olympic semifinal in the 200m individual medley.
The Pietermaritzburg swimmer finished fifth in his heat but his time of 1:58.08 was quick enough to qualify 15th fastest.