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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Australia may have found its next male breaststroker.
Haig Buckingham has quietly been rising through the ranks over the last few years, and that emergence continued last week at the Australian Short Course Championships.
The meet, hosted at the famed Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Center (SOPAC), featured some of Australia’s most well-known names, such as Bronte Campbell, Cody Simpson and Maddy Gough, but the swimmer who came away with arguably the top performance was Buckingham, who dropped a big best time in the men’s 100 breaststroke.
A product of the SOPAC Swim Club, and thus racing in his home pool, Buckingham came into the meet having not raced the event in short course meters since 2020. The 19-year-old entered with a lifetime best of 1:01.30—a mark he’s since eclipsed numerous times in the long course pool, including blasting his way to a 1:00.33 showing at the Australian Trials in June.
Nonetheless, he came into the meet having never seen double-digits in the event, and ended up doing so in a big way, first clocking 59.26 in the prelims before firing off a time of 57.85 in the final, earning victory over Nash Wilkes (58.01).
The swim launches Buckingham into #8 all-time among Australians in the event, joining an elite list of names who have broken 58 seconds.
All-Time Australian Performers, Men’s 100 Breaststroke (SCM)
- Matthew Wilson, 56.89 – 2020
- Samuel Williamson, 57.00 – 2020
- Christian Sprenger, 57.14 – 2013
- Joshua Yong, 57.34 – 2022
- Jake Packard, 57.54 – 2014
- Tommy Sucipto, 57.67 – 2016
- Brenton Rickard, 57.79 – 2010
- Haig Buckingham, 57.85 – 2023
- Nash Wilkes, 58.01 – 2023
- Kenneth To, 58.05 – 2013
|Buckingham, November 2020||Buckingham, 2023 AUS SC Prelims||Buckingham, 2023 AUS SC Final|
Buckingham narrowly missed winning an individual medal at the 2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, placing 4th in the 100 breast (1:01.85) after swimming a time in the prelims (1:01.74) that would’ve snuck in for bronze.
He went on to drop a 1:00.80 split on the boys’ medley relay as the Aussies claimed silver, and he won a second relay silver on the mixed medley relay.
The progression has continued in the 13 months since, including Buckingham placing 2nd in both the 50 breast (27.53) and 200 breast (2:12.95) at the Aussie World Trials in June, taking 4th in the 100 breast (1:00.51) after his PB in the prelims.
Given his speed, something Australia has generally been lacking in breaststrokers in recent years, Buckingham will surely be a name to keep on your radar as we head into 2024.
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