Minna Atherton 0.2 Shy Of WR: Roars To 1:59.48 Commonwealth & Australian 200 Back Record

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Minna Athewrton - Photo Courtesy: Singapore Swimming Federation

Minna Atherton Rattles World Record, just 0.25 shy, At International Swimming League in Budapest

Minna Atherton stunned Olympic silver medallist Katinka Hosszu with a world-record rattler in the 200m backstroke on the first day of action at the International Swimming League’s fourth Match of the season in Budapest this evening.

On 1:59.48, the Australian ace was just 0.25sec shy of the world record held by Hosszu since 2014. Atherton’s time set an Australian and Commonwealth record as third fastest ever 0.01sec ahead of Atherton’s erstwhile training partner and Aussie teammate Emily Seebohm.

Minna Atherton

Minna Atherton set an Australian record and just missed the world record in her 200 backstroke victory for the London Roar.

The all-time top 5:

  • 1 1:59.23 Hosszu, Katinka, HUN 2014
  • 2 1:59.35 Zevina, Daryna, UKR 2016
  • 3 1:59.48 Atherton, Minna, AUS 2019
  • 4 1:59.49 Seebohm, Emily, AUS 2015
  • 5 2:00.03 Franklin, Melissa, USA 2012

On a huge best time of 2:00.58 last week for the win in Dallas, Atherton shook the 1:59.23 world mark that Hosszu set back in 2014 for the World short-course title. It was the second world-record rattler of the day, after Daiya Seto clocked 3:55.53 over 400m medley back home in Japan to fall just 0.03sec shy of Ryan Lochte‘s global standard.

In Budapest, the Australian took the race on from go and delivered a performance that reminds us of her huge potential as she emerges from that tricky time in transition from junior to senior world-class waters.

The Challenge

The middle-section of Atherton’s race where Hosszu’s 2014 pace had the edge:

  • 28.17; 58.36 (30.19) 1:28.77 (30.41) 1:59.23 (30.46) Hosszu, Doha, Dec 5, 2014
  • 27.68; 58.50 (30.82) 1:29.30 (30.80) 1:59.48 (30.18) Atherton, Budapest, Oct 26, 2019
ISL: Holly Barratt and Minna Atherton

Minna Atherton, right, and Holly Barratt led a sweep of the top spots for the London Roar.

On a day when England, coached by Aussie guru Eddie Jones, topped the All Blacks to make the World Cup Rugby final, there was a touch of symmetry in the pool as Atherton, the granddaughter of a Kiwi International cyclist, and cheers on by her Aussie coach David Lush and head coach of Roar Mel Marshall, of England, sent smoke off the water in Budapest.

Based at Brisbane Grammar Swimming Club and a Biomedical Science student at Bond University since May last year, Atherton is showing fine signs of having made it through the tricky transition from world-class junior to world-class senior.

Back in 2015, she was World junior champion over 100 and 200m backstroke ands 4x100m freestyle and claimed silvers in the 50m backstroke and medley relay. In the mix were World junior records over 50 and 100m.

In senior waters, she helped Australia claim the World 4x100m mixed medley relay title this year in Gwangju, where she also claimed silver in the 100m backstroke and as a member of the women’s 4x100m medley quartet.

Atherton started swimming because her “PE teacher in primary school thought I’d be good at swimming, so I started training.”

A recipient of the Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship, Atherton is Australia Swimmer No. 769. Her mantra is “Trust the process”

From the Archive: contemporary notes from 2015 World Juniors, Singapore:

First Gold: 100m backstroke

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Minna Atherton – Photo Courtesy: Singapore Swimming Federation

There was bit of a jumble of world junior records to sort out at 2015 World Junior Championships. Minna Atherton, 14, did her part with a 59.58 championship-record victory in the 100m backstroke. First thing to note: she set a World Junior Record and at 14, yes, she is the fastest of her age in history. Second up: Atherton, only her youth in tow, floats so much she almost leaves the water at moments.

Though it matters not a jot to Atherton, the argument over the World record is not quite settled: 59.58 is the time Claire Adams (USA) clocked at USA nationals, so technically, the world mark is matched.

Adams’ time was not registered as a world junior mark in time for FINA and organisers to get it on the books, so Atherton’s heats time, despite it being slower than a time clocked in 2014 (as World Junior records became official) by Russia’s Daria K. Ustinova*, was declared the world junior standard.

Adams came closest to Atherton today, on 1:00.16 for silver, New Zealand’s Bobbi Gichard on 1:00.42 for bronze.

Out in 28.70, Atherton came home in 30.88, a second lap match on the clock with Adams, who turned in 29.31. At that stage, Gabrielle Fa’amausili (NZL) was second on 29.06 but struggled on the way home for 7th in 1:00.74. Her teammate Gichard turned 4th in 29.41 and came home in 31.01, holding off a strong challenge from Canada’s Danielle Hanus, the only sub-31 homecomer, her 30.65 resulting in 1:00.44, just 0.02sec shy of the podium.

Gold No2: 200m backstroke

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Minna Atherton – Photo Courtesy: Singapore Swimming Federation

Minna Atherton (AUS) has a heck of a challenge ahead in senior waters Down Under but today she matched in junior waters the senior feat of her fellow Aussie Emily Seebohm in senior battle at World titles in Kazan earlier this month: the 100/200m double was claimed in 2:09.11, a championships record.

Atherton swam a terrific race: out in 1:02.34, she’d put almost 1.5sec of clear blue between her and the best of the rest. By the last turn, on 1:35.43, she held the same margin of advantage, China’s Liu Yaxin now the nearest challenger and shifting.

Atherton, fine skills, turns and a quiet spirit of determination to the fore, showed signs of tightening in the closing 15m of the race as Liu sped home and Taylor Ruck (CAN) produced the last-lap charge of the race to ensure the first sub-2:10 podium in the history of the junior event back to 2006.

Atherton, whose win elevated Australia two golds clear of the USA at the helm of the medals table at the half-way mark of the meet, had done enough: she came home in 33.68 for a 2:09.11 victory, Liu took silver in 2:09.44 off the back of a 32.48, with Ruck third in 2:09.49, on 32.17 from last turn to last wall.

And… two WJRs but … silver: 50m backstroke

  • Heats: New Zealand’s Gabrielle Fa’amausili 28.09WJR; Minna Atherton (AUS) 28.00 WJR.
  • Semis: Atherton – 27.92WJR.
  • There was almost nothing in it in the final: Fa’amausili, now coached by Igor Polianski, the former 200m backstroke world record holder and Olympic champion of 1988, settling the argument for Kiwi maiden gold in 27.81, the fourth world junior mark in three rounds, Atherton 0.02sec away.

The bronze went to Canada’s Danielle Hanus in 28.26, denying New Zealand a second medal by 0.14sec, Bobbi Gichard, on the podium in the 100m, in fourth.

We’ll be hearing more from Minna Atherton…


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Vanessa Essam
4 years ago

Minna is on fire!!

Chris Helps
4 years ago


Mani Mani
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Thomas A. Small
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4 years ago

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