Team SA’s Olympic hopeful Tatjana Schoenmaker was the big headline grabber on the opening day of the 2021 SA National Aquatic Championships, doubling as the official Olympic and Paralympic Trials, at the Newton Park Pool in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).
Schoenmaker showed off her record breaking form with a new African record in the 50m breaststroke. During the morning heats session, Schoenmaker shattered her own 2019 African Record time of 30.82sec to 30.42sec and improved on that time once again in the evening finals, clocking a golden 30.32, ahead of Lara van Niekerk in 31.03 and Caitlin de Lange in 31.87.
Olympian Chad le Clos did not disappoint, dipping under the 24-second mark to claim the 50m butterfly title in 23.72, with Matthew Sates a close second in 24.06 and Pieter Coetze finishing third in 24.14.
Coetze went two better in the 50m backstroke, winning the event in a fast 25.02 ahead of Ian Venter in 26.58 and Martin Binedell in 26.69.
In the 50m butterfly, KZN’s Erin Gallagher started the competition on a high note, winning the race in 26.50, followed by Inge Weidemann in 26.87 and Tayla Lovemore in 27.01, while in the men’s 50m breaststroke, there was no stopping Alaric Basson, who topped the medal podium in 28.09 to Brenden Crawford and Jared Pike’s shared silver medal time of 28.22.
In the long distance 800m freestyle, Leigh McMorran walked away with the gold medal in a time of 8:54.65, ahead of Catherine van Rensburg in 9:02.82 and Samantha Randle in 9:06.19, while in the 1500m freestyle, Roberto Gomes scooped the gold in 15:49.02 to Henre Louw’s 15:58.16 and Righardt Muller’s 16:12.67.
Olivia Nel, Rebecca Meder and Kerryn Herbst won the top three spots in the 50m backstroke in 29.13, 29.44 and 29.91, respectively.
The Nationals continue Thursday.