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 email@example.com