It doesn’t matter what’s in front of her….
As long as she knows who’s behind her.
Place of birth: Johannesburg
DOB: 9 July 1997
Coach: Rocco Meiring
50m breaststroke: 30.32 (African record)
100m breaststroke: 1:04.82 (African record)
200m breaststroke: 2:18.95 (World record)
50m breaststroke: 30.20 (SA record)
100m breaststroke: 1:03.89 (African record)
200m breaststroke: 2:18.02 (African record)
2015 African Games, Brazzaville:
50m breaststroke (32.49); 1st,
100m breaststroke (1:09.47); 1st,
200m breaststroke (2:28.84); 1st,
4x100m medley relay (4:12.36)
2017 World Student Games, Taipei:
200m breaststroke (2:24.61); 2nd,
2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast:
100m breaststroke (1:06.41); 1st
200m breaststroke (2:22.02); 1st
2019 World Student Games, Naples:
100m breaststroke (1:06.42); 1st
200m breaststroke (2:22.92); 1st
2019 World Championships, Gwangju:
100m breaststroke (1:06.60); 6th
200m breaststroke (2:22.52); 2nd
2021 Olympic Games, Tokyo:
100m breaststroke (1:05.22); 2nd
200m breaststroke (2:18.95); 1st
Having made steady progress in recent years, world record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker has transformed herself into South Africa’s top women’s swimmer. After raking in multiple medals as a teenager at the 2015 African Games, she went on to reach the podium again at the 2017 World Student Games. Reaffirming her talent in the 2018 season, at the age of 20, the breaststroke specialist became the first SA woman in eight years to earn a medal in the pool at the Commonwealth Games by securing the 100m and 200m titles at the 2018 spectacle on Australia’s Gold Coast. She also narrowly missed out on the bronze medal in the 50m breaststroke final, breaking the African records over all three distances. Displaying further potential in the 25-metre pool, Schoenmaker went on to shine again later in the 2018 campaign, breaking the long-standing national 50m and 100m breaststroke records at the SA Short-Course Championships in Durban.
The following year she took another big step forward in her blooming career, wrapping up another impressive double at the World Student Games in Naples. After setting an African record in the 100m semifinals, touching the wall in 1:06:32, she went on to win gold in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke finals. Later that season Schoenmaker made history by becoming the first South African woman to earn a medal at the biennial Fina World Championships in Gwangju. She clocked an African record of 2:21.79 in the 200m semifinals, and after lining up among the favourites she stormed to a memorable silver medal. Schoenmaker also put up a fight in the 100m final at the global championships, taking sixth position against a strong field.
While the 2020 season was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, she returned to action later in the year and closed out the shortened campaign by breaking the 50m, 100m and 200m records at the SA Short Course Championships in Pietermaritzburg.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year, Schoenmaker confirmed her place as a medal contender by again shattering her African long-course records over all three breaststroke distances at the 2021 SA Championships in Gqeberha, just three months before the Games.
Living up to the hype, she went on to secure two of the SA team’s three medals at the multi-sport showpiece, and the squad’s only two medals in the pool. After breaking her own African record in the heats, she grabbed the silver medal in the 100m final. In the 200m event, she was even more impressive, shattering the world record in the final to win gold.
Having already been compared to former Olympic champion Penny Heyns, after removing all her esteemed compatriot’s marks from the record books, Schoenmaker has developed into one of the country’s biggest stars in the pool as she continues her rapid rise at international level.