ZUMO Performance of the Week: Minna Atherton Continues Impressive Fall, Rattles 200 Back World Record at London ISL Derby

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Minna Atherton has been one of the stars of the ISL this fall. Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia D'Alberto/LaPresse

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This week’s ZUMO Performance of the Week goes to Minna Atherton of Australia and the London Roar as she nearly took down the 200 back SCM world record on Saturday at the International Swimming League European Derby in London. Atherton has been on fire this fall for the Roar as she broke the only world record thus far in the league, lowering the 100 back SCM record to a 54.89 in Budapest. She has nearly broken the 200 back record a couple times, most recently swimming a 1:59.25 in London to miss Katinka Hosszu’s 1:59.23 from December 2014.

Atherton was a 1:59.4 in Budapest earlier in the season as well as she has been one of the early MVPs of the league based off of her times. She now sits second all-time in the SCM 200 back as she also broke the Australian record of 1:59.49 from Emily Seebohm in 2015, whom Atherton has trained with before.

Minna Atherton has really broken out on the senior ranks this year, winning individual silver at the World Championships in the 100 back for her first international senior medal in her career after she won the 100 and 200 back at the 2015 World Juniors at age 15. Since then, she struggled to maintain her form and had plateaued in 2017 after missing a spot on the Rio Olympic team. But in a recent interview with her coach David Lush, he assured the plateau was a part of the four-year plan so she could peak in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

From Craig Lord’s interview:

“From the outside it looked like she had drifted into the sunset a bit. But there was some strategy in that in that her parents had put significant capital investment into a quality education. Brisbane Girls Grammar School is probably then mum her one academic institution you could go to as a female.”

“I guess that’s an important thing for life so I had to take a back seat. We were doing 10 hours of contact a week through that entire year (2017) and as a consequence of that we had to have a rebuild in the first year of university, a time and place where you’re finding your place, finding your identity in a big place.”

At World titles in Gwangju last July, Atherton celebrated a gold (4×100m mixed medley) and two silvers (100m backstroke, women’s 4x100m medley). “Its great timing as we lead into that final quarter before Olympic year,” says Lush, adding:

“We had 2020 vision because in 2016 she was just 16. Chronologically as well as physiologically, we have hit the right point. It’s been some journey.”

How would the man who has worked so long with Atherton described her? What’s she like? No hesitation:

“Super introverted. Was. Now, coming out of her shell. If you look at some interviews from just 12 months ago, she is just super confident in comparison. I see that as a byproduct of coming to these meets. Going to the World Cups, going to these meets. This is all about establishing the confidence that allows her to believe she deserves to be in this space. For her to know that she is respected among her peers, that she can carry herself. That’s really important because you’ve got to go out in lane 4 on your own.”

Congrats to Minna Atherton on winning the ZUMO Performance of the Week.

Top 10 All-Time: Women’s 200 Back (SCM)

  1. 1:59.23, Katinka Hosszu, HUN (2014)
  2. 1:59.25, Minna Atherton, AUS (2019)
  3. 1:59.35, Daryna Zevina, UKR (2016)
  4. 1:59.49, Emily Seebohm, AUS (2015)
  5. 2:00.03, Missy Franklin, USA (2011)
  6. 2:00.18, Shiho Sakai, JPN (2009)
  7. 2:00.69, Kathleen Baker, USA (2018)
  8. 2:00.71, Lisa Bratton, USA (2018)
  9. 2:00.83, Elizabeth Simmonds, GBR (2011)
  10. 2:00.91, Kirsty Coventry, ZIM (2008)

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