Double Commonwealth gold medalist and African record holder, Tatjana Schoenmaker won the coveted title of Sports Star of the Year at the 2019 SA Sports Awards.

The 22-year-old swimmer also bagged the Sportswoman of the Year award following her breakthrough performances in 2018 and 2019.

SA’s new record-breaker in the pool

It was Tatjana’s 2018 Commonwealth Games exploits that gained her greater notoriety among South Africa’s sport-loving public and also earned her a spot (20) in the Mail & Guardian’s list of 200 up-and-coming Young South African athletes.

She claimed gold medals in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane.

In winning the 100m breaststroke, Tatjana set a new African record of 1:06.41, which was 0.06 faster than the previous record held by Penny Heyns for 19 years.

She also narrowly missed out on the bronze medal in the 50m breaststroke final, but still broke the African record.

She followed up her monumental success at the Games with a stellar 2019 season, which included a silver medal at the 2019 FINA World Championships held in Gwangju, South Korea in the 200m breaststroke and two gold medals at the Universiade – also known as the World University Games – which is organised for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

Nurturing her talent from an early age

Tatjana’s swimming talent was discovered at an early age after her parents taught her to swim for safety reasons at the age of five.

Within three years she had won her first race at a school gala, which is when her parents decided to nurture her talent. Tatjana later honed her skills while attending TuksSport High School, before moving to the University of Pretoria, where she obtained a degree in financial sciences in 2019.

Tatjana is currently coached by Rocco Meiring and remains based in South Africa, where she is now training full time and is completely focused on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where she aims to compete in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.

Personal bests long course:

  • 50m breaststroke: 30.82 (African record)
  • 100m breaststroke: 1:06.32 (African record)
  • 200m breaststroke: 2:21.79 (African record)

Personal bests short course:

  • 50m breaststroke: 30.39 (SA record)
  • 100m breaststroke: 1:05.12 (African record)
  • 200m breaststroke: 2:18.93