Swimming World January 2022 Presents – The Greatest World Records In History

Swimming World January 2022 - The Greatest World Records in History - Katie Ledecky
[Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick]

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The Greatest World Records In History

By John Lohn

 

The fastest of all-time. It’s a special title to hold, and only a tiny percentage of athletes can make the claim. To own the label of world record holder elevates an individual to a status that cannot be argued. Whether for an hour, days, months or years, world record setters know no peer. They are—for a period—the best their event has seen.

As the 2022 campaign gets underway, Swimming World decided to look at the greatest world records in history. No, this is not a perfect science, and there will be objections from the dedicated readership. But the eight records featured are—plain and simple—spectacular in nature…and one longtime scribe’s picks for all-time recognition.

When selecting these records for inclusion, several factors were considered:
• Duration of the world record
• Historical significance and context
• Was it a barrier-breaking mark?
• Gap to the opposition

Ultimately, the women’s records covered a greater range of eras, while the men’s marks consisted of one ancient standard and three marks from modern times. Feel free to argue and suggest other options, but know this: The following records are all special.

 

DAWN FRASER, AUSTRALIA
100 Freestyle (59.9, 1962)
By the time Dawn Fraser established this world record, the Australian already held legendary status. She was a multi-time Olympic champion from the 1956 and 1960 Games and held the global standard in the 100 meter freestyle uninterrupted since 1956. But there was one more bar to clear on the road to another Olympic crown: breaking the minute barrier.

Racing at the Aussie Trials for the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Fraser produced a time of 59.9 for the 100 freestyle to become the first woman to dip under a minute. Her achievement arrived 40 years after Johnny Weissmuller became the first man to accomplish the feat. More, the effort further separated Fraser from the competition, as it took nearly two years for American Sharon Stouder to become the second member of the sub-minute club.

 

MARY T. MEAGHER, USA
200 Butterfly (2:05.96, 1981)

When a performance still ranks as elite four decades after it was delivered, it is easy to recognize the swim as an all-time mark. And that is exactly what the legendary Mary T. Meagher brings to the conversation. This world record was produced at the 1981 United States National Championships and was a statement performance, as it arrived a year after Meagher was denied the chance to race at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow by President Jimmy Carter’s boycott.
So, how powerful was this mark? For starters, it was more than four seconds faster than the 2:10.44 that East Germany’s Ines Geissler clocked for gold at the 1980 Games. More, Meagher’s swim would have been good for fourth place (and just off the podium) at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

 

JANET EVANS, USA
400 Freestyle (4:03.85, 1988)
Before Katie Ledecky emerged, Janet Evans was undisputedly recognized as the greatest distance swimmer in history. While her peak marks in the 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle were considered, Evans earned inclusion on this list for the show she delivered in the 400 freestyle at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. There, the American teenager stood up to the East German machine, which was powered by a systematic doping program, and turned in a performance that would stand for nearly two decades.

Ahead of the race, Evans was expected to be in a battle with East Germany’s Heike Friedrich, and the race was tight through its midway point. After going out in 2:02.14 for the opening 200 meters, Evans was faster on the back half, clocking 2:01.71 for the closing four laps and a negative split. The product was a world record that would stand for 17-plus years. It wasn’t until Frenchwoman Laure Manaudou went 4:03.03 in 2006 that the record was taken from Evans.

 

To continue reading more about some of the greatest world records in history,
Click here to download the full January issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!

 

Swimming World January 2022 - Ariarne Titmus - Swimming Toward Greatness - COVER[Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports]

 

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FEATURES

012 THE TOP 5 STORIES OF 2021
by David Rieder
While the pandemic and its massive effects on the sport were the lone top story of 2020, the action in the pool returned to center-stage in 2021. Unsurprisingly, the focus of the year’s top stories centers on Tokyo, where the Olympics produced some amazing performances and historic results.

016 2021 ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
by Dan D’Addona and Matthew De George

  • Diving: Shi Tingmao, China & Xie Siyi, China
  • Artistic Swimming: Svetlana Kolesnichenko & Svetlana Romashina, Russia
  • Water Polo: Maddie Musselman, USA & Filip Filipovic, Serbia
  • Paralympic: Jessica Long, USA & Maksym Krypac, Serbia

018 THE GREATEST WORLD RECORDS IN HISTORY
by John Lohn
As the 2022 campaign gets underway, Swimming World decided to look at the greatest world records in history. No, this is not a perfect science, but the eight records featured are—plain and simple—spectacular in nature and deserve all-time recognition.

020 ISHOF FEATURE: REMEMBERING SAN FRANCISCO’S SUTRO BATHS
by Bruce Wigo
Located on the ocean side of the southerly entrance to San Francisco Bay’s Golden Gate, the Sutro Baths—built in the 1890s by Adolph Sutro and eventually destroyed in the 1960s—was the world’s largest indoor swimming facility and one of the most amazing recreational and entertainment complexes ever built.

024 2021 WORLD & AMERICAN RECORD PROGRESSION
by David Rieder

026 SWIMMING TOWARD GREATNESS
by David Rieder
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus first beat Katie Ledecky, history’s greatest female distance swimmer, at the 2019 World Championships. She repeated the feat this past summer at the Tokyo Olympics, and now has her sights set on achieving even more challenging goals.

029 NUTRITION: CHILLED TO THE BONE
by Dawn Weatherwax
Bone broth is a home remedy worth adding whether you live in a cold or warm climate.

034 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH MAX McHUGH
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COACHING

032 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: MAXIMIZING SWIMMING VELOCITY (Part 7)—OPTIMAL STROKE CYCLE FOR BUTTERFLY AND FREESTYLE
by Rod Havriluk
A swimmer who takes full advantage of the propulsive phase and eliminates the wasted time on the non-propulsive phase can optimize stroke cycle time. This article presents optimal times for both the propulsive and non-propulsive phases of butterfly and freestyle with corresponding predicted performance improvements.

036 COLLEGE SWIMMING POST-COVID
by Michael J. Stott
College swim coaches from around the country offer their thoughts on how COVID has affected their sport.

042 SPECIAL SETS: LETITIA SIM—DYNAMITE TALENT FROM TNT SWIMMING
by Michael J. Stott
Coach Jan Mittemeyer shares some sets he has given to Letitia Sim and her fellow senior swimmers at TNT Swimming in Daphne, Ala. Now swimming for Michigan, Sim was 2021’s No. 1-ranked recruit from Alabama and 15th nationally.

043 Q&A WITH COACH BRENT ARCKEY, SARASOTA SHARKS (Fla.)
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST EMMA WEYANT
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

031 DRYSIDE TRAINING: READY, SET, GO!
by J.R. Rosania
With the new year, it’s time to think about what lies ahead and how to begin preparation for winter and early spring racing. This month’s dryland article focuses on exercises for each stroke and some explosive and core training exercises.

JUNIOR SWIMMER

039 GOLDMINDS: THE ART OF SWIMMING
by Wayne Goldsmith
The key to fast swimming is to follow the coach’s leadership and guidance, but it’s also important to choose and make the workout special and unique just for you.

047 UP & COMERS: MAXIMUS WILLIAMSON
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT OSCAR NORIN, CHAMPION HIGH DIVER OF THE WORLD?

041 THE OFFICIAL WORD

046 MOMS AT MEETS: BETH CURTISS

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

 

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