Tatjana Schoenmaker’s “golden performance” during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games has undoubtedly brought a newly found self-believe to South African women’s swimmers.
The Tuks swimmer is on record stating that there is a real revival in women’s swimming about to happen. But she is not just talking about it. She is actively playing her part to make it a reality.
When it was arranged that the renowned Australian coach Scott Volkers, would come to South Africa to do a training camp over the university recess at Tuks Schoenmaker insisted that she should not be the only one to benefit. She saw it as an opportunity to assist in lifting the standard of local women's swimming.
Volkers has previously coached the likes of former world record holders Susie O'Neill, an eight-time Olympic medalist, and Samantha Riley, a multiple world breaststroke champion.
Schoenmaker convinced her sponsors (Speedo, Polar and Toptrition) along with TuksSwimming to give more swimmers the chance to benefit from Volkers and her own coach, Rocco Meiring, expertise.
Marlies Ross, who finished ninth in the 200m individual medley at the Gold Coast Games, as well as 16-year-old prodigy Dune Coetzee, and 19-year-old prospects Kaylene Corbett and Nathania van Niekerk, who all competed at the Commonwealth showpiece all received invites. As has the 16-year-old swimmer, Christin Mundell, who is going to represent South Africa at the Youth Olympic Games.
Meiring explained one of the things they worked on during the training camp was improving Schoenmaker’s stroke frequency emphasising it was essential to do so. From now up until the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, it is all about finding extra speed in the pool.
Even though she won a gold medal in the 100m-breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games, it is not a foregone conclusion that it is going to become a priority event for her, at least not immediately.
“Tatjana needs to improve her best time in the 100m-breaststroke by at least two seconds to become truly competitive. That is a tall order. A lot will depend on what happens during the next year,” explained Meiring.
According to him `it was decided that Schoenmaker will not compete at the World Short Course Championships this year neither will she compete in the World Cup Series this year.
“Tatjana has received World Cup invites, but we have decided that for now, it is more important that she focus on BCom Financial Management studies. Her next big gala is going to be next year’s South African Championships where she has to qualify for the World Championships."