“There are a lot of new responsibilities that came along the past eight months. But it’s been very exciting and I’m always up for the challenge.”
Schoenmaker admits she isn’t expected to race at the same national record-breaking form she was at last year’s edition of these. Comahmpionships, but she is seeking out a chance to put on a show nonetheless.
“I had never swum a PB at Nationals before – last year was the first time ever so I think that’s why you saw the shock on my face. Going into this Nationals there’s no expectation. I’m just focusing on my races. There are some fast girls, especially in the breaststroke. Kaylene [Corbett] and Lara [van Niekerk] are doing so well so I’m excited to see how they race. Not necessarily trying to beat each other – I think it’s just supporting each other to get into that team and then prove ourselves internationally,” added Schoenmaker.
Multi-Olympic medalist Chad Le Clos is also entered in the competition, battling his way back from bronchitis earlier this year.
“It’s been a great year of training. I’m managed to gather a group of youngsters to train with me in South Africa – mainly based out of Cape Town.
“I’ve swum a couple of local competitions before Nationals, but I’m on my fourth round of antibiotics. I have chronic sinusitis and I have to have surgery to get that fixed, so we’re hoping to get that done – hopefully after Commonwealths… It’s been really bad but other than that the training has been going excellently, really well.”
At 29 years old with already 17 medals to his credit, Le Clos has the possibility of becoming the most decorated athlete of all time at a Commonwealth Games. He needs to claim 2 more medals to surpass Australian shooter Phillip Adams who owns the record.
“I’ll hopefully qualify for a couple of races and then my goal is to become the most successful Commonwealth Games athlete in history come July.
“That’s a big goal of mine. I’m focusing very heavily on that. We’ve got the world champs before which will obviously be very important, but the Commonwealths is definitely my main focus.”
The University of Georgia Bulldog and newly-minted NCAA champion Matt Sates is also among the competitors entered in a monster program that includes 9 individual events. The versatile athlete is set to race the 50m/100m/200m fly, 50m/100m/200m/400m free, as well as the 200m and 400m IM.
Sates is the top seed across the 100m free (48.74), 200m free (1:46.11), 200m IM (1:57.60) and 400m IM (4:14.33) and has the potential to deal some major blows across these events and more at both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.