South African Tatjana Schoenmaker Breaks First Individual Swimming World Record At Olympics

By Sharon Robb
TOKYO, Japan, July 29, 2021–An emotionally-charged Tatjana Schoenmaker broke the first individual world record in swimming Thursday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The 24-year-old South African set a blistering pace in the final 50 meters of the 200-meter breaststroke to win in a world record time of 2:18.95. The previous world record of 2:19.11 was held by Rikke Moller of Denmark since 2013.

It was the first gold medal won by a South African woman since 1996 and first gold of the Olympics for any South African athlete. Schoenmaker also won silver in the 100-meter breaststroke.

American training partners and good friends Lily King and Annie Lazer finished second and third. King took silver in a breakthrough swim of 2:19.92 and Lazor the bronze in 2:20.84.

“I wouldn’t have done that if she wasn’t next to me,” King said of Lazor. “This is what we were working for.”

King led until the 150-meter turn when Schoenmaker turned on the after jets to touch the wall first.

“My love for swimming makes me want to get up every morning and go to training,” Schoenmaker said. “It’s like my second home. Being fortunate enough to travel the world doing what I love, seeing new places and meeting new people and sports heroes, motivates me a lot. The most important thing every young swimmer should realize is that nothing is impossible. They only need to believe and be prepared to put in the long and hard hours.”

Local swimmers results:

Plantation American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad & Tobago was second in his 100 butterfly heat in 52.36.

Azura’s Abbas Qali of Kuwait, fourth in his 100 butterfly heat in 53.62.

Azura’s Steven Aimable, fifth in his 100 butterfly heat in 53.64.

Azura’s Davidson Vincent of Haiti finished tied for seventh in his 100 butterfly in 54.81.

Qali, Aimable and Vincent all swam in the same heat.

Azura’s Celina Marquez of El Salvador was second in her 200 backstroke heat in 2:14.72.

In other championship medal finals:

Men’s 200-meter backstroke: Russian Evgeny Rylov became the seventh man to win both backstroke events in a single Olympics. He won in an Olympic record 1:53.27. Defending gold medalist and Bolles alum Ryan Murphy took silver in 1:54.15. Luke Greenbank of Great Britain took third in 1:54.72. The U.S. men had won seven consecutive gold medals in the event. “I put myself in a lot of pain,” Murphy said. “I just ran into a very good guy from Russia.”

Women’s 100-meter freestyle: The Aussies took first and third in the event. Emma McKeon, 27, won her first individual gold medal in an Olympic record 51.96 and teammate Cate Campbell was third in 52.52. Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong took the silver in 52.27.

Men’s 200-meter individual medley: Underdog Shun Wang, 27, of China won the gold in an Asian record 1:55.00. Favorite Duncan Scott of Great Britain took silver in 1:55.28 and Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland won the bronze in 1:56.17. American Michael Andrew, the early leader, faltered in the last 50 and finished a disappointing fifth in 1:57.31.


200-meter breaststroke: 1. Tatjana Schoenmaker, RSA 2:18.95, WR, OR 2. Lilly King, US 2:19.92, 3. Annie Lazor, US 2:20.84.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Emma McKeon, AUS 51.96, OR, 2. Siobhan Haughey, HKG 52.27, AS, 3. Cate Campbell, AUS 52.52.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Evgeny Rylov, ROC 1:53.27, OR, 2. Ryan Murphy, US 1:54.15, 3. Luke Greenbank, GB 1:54.72.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Shun Wang, CHN 1:55.00, 2. Duncan Scott, GBR 1:55.28, 3. Jeremy Desplanches, SUI 1:56.17.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lazor, Andrew, Murphy, Weitzeil Win; Lochte’s Bid For Fifth Olympics Ends With Seventh Place; Julia Podkoscielny Top FGC Finisher On Day Six Of Olympic Trials

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 18, 2021—In an emotional storybook ending in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, training partners Annie Lazor and Lilly King finished first and second Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

It was one race King didn’t mind losing.

Lazor’s father David died two months ago unexpectedly at home. It was King who not only drove five hours to his funeral but promised Lazor’s mother she would look after her, motivate her and do everything it took to get her on the Olympic team.

The two trained together in Bloomington with King’s coach Ray Looze leading up to the Trials. Before stepping on the blocks, King, who had already won the 100 breaststroke and Lazor just missing a spot finishing third, looked over at Lazor and told her she loved her and let’s go get it.

Lazor broke open a close race to win in 2:21.07 and King finished second in 2:21.75. The two immediately hugged and slapped the water in jubilation.

At 26, Lazor is the oldest American woman to qualify for her first Olympic team in 17 years.

“I knew what her plan was and she knew what my plan was and we just wanted to do it together,” a teary-eyed Lazor said. “I’m just overcome with emotion. It’s been a long couple of months for me and I just couldn’t have done it without this girl. She pulled me through practice every day. I am so thankful for her.

“I knew she was going to be out fast. I knew if I could just hang with her and be within striking distance at the 100 I had a chance. It couldn’t have gone any better.”

Added King, “We’re family. Your teammates are always your family especially with the year we’ve been through and last couple of months for her. You have two of the top 200 breaststrokers training every day in practice so good things are going to happen.”

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, world record holder Ryan Lochte, looking to make his fifth Olympic team, saw his hopes end with a seventh place finish in the 200-meter individual medley in 1:59.67.

Lochte was second fastest qualifier in 1:58.48 in prelims and sixth fastest in 1:58.65 in semis but was unable to put the race together that he wanted.

“I really wanted to be on this Olympic team,” Lochte said. “This is probably my most important swim meet that I’ve ever had in my entire career, the one that meant the most to me. So falling short and feeling like I let everyone down was one of the hardest things.

“This ain’t the end of the road, there is a lot more I want to accomplish in swimming whether it’s in the pool or outside the pool making swimming better,” Lochte said. “I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun teaching these kids everything I’ve learned. I’m going to go be a dad now and go hug my kids.”

Michael Andrew, 22, of MA Academy controlled the 200 IM from start to finish to win in 1:55.44. He went out quickly in the butterfly in a 23.77 split and was on world record pace until the final 50. Chase Kalisz was second in 1:56.97.

“The goal this evening was to edge a little closer to the world record,” Andrew said. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or race strategy. I think I was out too fast, and it hurt me on the back end. I was really trying to drive the line, but my arms were shot. In this race, my strategy wasn’t really good. I was just thinking about how far they were behind. It got very sloppy at the finish, all things we can be working on.”

World record holder and reigning Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, 25, of California Aquatics, swept the backstroke events after winning Friday’s men’s 200-meter backstroke in 1:54.20.

The Bolles alum was 55.31 at the 100 and just blew off the 150-meter wall to extend his lead. It was the second fastest time in the world this year. Bryce Medford of Sierra Marlins was second in 1:54.79. Former Sarasota swimmer Austin Katz of Longhorn Aquatics was third in 1:55.86.

“I accomplished my goals,” Murphy said. “I am so excited to be going back to the Olympics in the 100 and 200 back. I’m obviously ecstatic to make another team in both races but I don’t think the times are necessarily reflective of where I’ve been in practice.

Asked where he is at right now compared to five years ago before going to Rio, Murphy said, “I think I’m certainly better at training. The details are a little sloppy right now but that’s nice. I know exactly where I can improve over these next five weeks to be a little bit better in Tokyo.”

In the women’s 100-meter freestyle, Abbey Weitzeil, 25, found her back speed to win her first Trials event in 53.53. Erica Brown, swimming in Lane 8 after knocking out Simone Manuel for that eighth spot in finals, was second in 53.59. The pair will be joined by Olivia Smoliga (53.63) and Natalie Hinds (53.84) on the 4×100 relay. For Hinds, Tokyo will be her first international trip.

“It means everything,” Weitzeil said. “I was nervous. Taming your nerves is definitely person by person in how you do that. This is the most nervewracking meet I have ever been to. It’s a different meet. Being more confident helps. I’ve learned to get past the negative thoughts.”

Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swimming was 43rd in the 200 backstroke in 2:18.07 in her final event of the Trials.

Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics will swim the 50-meter freestyle on Saturday.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Saturday’s events are: (Morning Session), men’s 50 freestyle prelims, women’s 50 freestyle prelims, men’s 1,500 freestyle prelims; (Evening session) men’s 100 butterfly final, women’s 200 backstroke final, women’s 800 freestyle final, men’s 50 freestyle semifinal, women’s 50 freestyle semifinal.

Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on and NBC Sports App.

For prelims, today through June 19, 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, today through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.

The five-day meet, which begins Saturday, at Toronto’s Pan Am Sports Centre will determine who competes for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. No fans are allowed in the venue. The meet had been delayed in April and again in May because of pandemic-related restrictions. It is the first time the entire Canadian team has gathered in one place since the 2019 World Championships in South Korea. Five women and one man were named to the Canadian team in January to compete in their best event(s): Kylie Masse (100 and 200 backstroke), Maggie MacNeil (100 butterfly), Penny Oleksiak (200 freestyle), Sydney Pickrem (200 breaststroke, 200 and 400 individual medley), Taylor Ruck (100 freestyle) and Markus Thormeyer (200 backstroke).


200-meter breaststroke: 1. Annie Lazor, Mission Viejo 2:21.07, 2. Lilly King, Indiana Swim Club 2:21.75, 3. Emily Escobedo, COND 2:22.64.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal 53.53, 2. Erika Brown, Tennessee Aquatics, 3. Olivia Smoliga, Athens Bulldogs 53.63, 4. Natalie Hinds, Athens Bulldogs 53.84.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Ryan Murphy, Cal 1:54.20, 2. Bryce Mefford, Sierra Marlins Swim Team 1:54.79, 3. Austin Katz, Longhorn Aquatics 1:55.86.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Michael Andrew, MA Swim Academy 1:55.44, 2. Chase Kalisz, Athens Bulldogs 1:56.97, 3. Kieran Smith, UFlorida 1:57.23.

Sharon Robb can be reached at