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07 August 2019 | in FISU Athletes, Swimming

Universiade gold: a stepping stone to World Championship gold

Rising South African swimming star Zane Waddell says "After Napoli 2019, I knew I was ready for the Worlds"


LAUSANNE – The Gwangju 2019 World Aquatics Championships came to a close recently and many young swimmers that stood on the podium at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade made a splash at the FINA World Championships as well.


USA’s Zachary Apple, who was crowned the undisputed king of the pool in Napoli, topped that up with four medals in the relays at the World Championships in Korea.


Also triumphing in the pool at Gwangju was 21-year-old South African swimmer Zane Waddell. Waddell won gold in the 50m backstroke – the same event that he had won in style at Napoli 2019 just a couple of weeks earlier.

Waddell had turned up the heat during the heats at Piscina Scandone, smashing a 10-year-old Universiade Record. He then bettered that record time in the semi-finals the next day clocking 24.46, before going onto win gold in the final. Clearly, he carried that form into the world’s top swimming meet.


“The Summer Universiade was a great stepping stone for me towards my achievement at worlds,” Waddell said to FISU after his victory in Gwangju. “It gave me belief that I could win anything.”


“It showed I was in consistent speed form,” he added about his consecutive Universiade Records. “I was ready for worlds!”


His countrywoman Tatjana Schoenmaker (left) was another Napoli 2019 medallist who was ready for the Worlds.


Already a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Schoenmaker followed up her double gold in Napoli – in the women’s 100m and 200m breaststroke – with silver in the women’s 200m breaststroke at Gwangju.


“World Championships silver medallist!!” Schoenmaker tweeted after the race. “Wow! How did that happen?”


With perfect preparation in Napoli, perhaps? Waddell wouldn’t disagree. In fact, he said that for him, Schoenmaker was one of the standout athletes at Napoli 2019.


“I really enjoyed watching my teammate Tatjana Schoenmaker,” he said. “She is a beast in the water.”

With the Universiade gold and the World Championship gold under his belt, a triumphant Waddell returned to the USA where he studies Finance and Management (Information Systems) at the University of Alabama. 


Even as finishing his fourth and final year of the Bachelors’ degree is high on the agenda, Waddell said his sights are also firmly set on qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


From Universiade triumph to World Championship success and hopefully Olympic glory next – FISU athletes are surely ones to watch!


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