arena Swim of the Week: Shona Branton Drops Big For 1:06.59 100 Breast In Luxembourg

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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.

It was a breakthrough performance of sorts last week for Shona Branton at the Luxembourg Euro Meet, establishing herself as a contender in the women’s 100 breast at the Canadian Olympic Trials later this year.

Branton, a third-year at Western University, took a break from U SPORTS competition to compete overseas as a member of Team Ontario, and delivered one of the top performances of the entire meet in a loaded field that included Olympic gold medalists and reigning world champions.

The 21-year-old Branton came into the meet with a personal best of 1:07.79 in the 100 breast, a mark she established just over one month earlier at a meet in Pointe-Claire. She also went a PB of 1:07.93 one week before that, and broke the 1:08 marker for the first time at the Summer Ontario Championships in July (1:07.95).

She then went 1:07.10 in the prelims in Luxembourg, qualifying 1st into the final with a new PB, and then dominated the final in 1:06.59, cracking 1:07 for the first time and winning over a competitive field that included Italian Olympians Arianna Castiglioni and Martina Carraro.

Split Comparison

Branton, Pointe-Claire (Dec. 2023) Branton, Luxembourg (Prelims) Branton, Luxembourg (Final)
31.91 31.72 31.24
35.88 35.38 35.35
1:07.79 1:07.10 1:06.59

As outlined here, Canada has long been searching for that breaststroker who can firmly put them in the medal picture in the women’s medley relay, having elite backstroke, butterfly and freestyle options for the last five years. Breaststroke has also been a bit more of a question mark, and the emergence of Branton, along with Alexanne Lepage, over the last six months could silence any doubt.

Lepage and Branton are now separated by .01 in terms of lifetime bests, ranking #5 and #6 all-time in Canada.

All-Time Canadian Performers, Women’s 100 Breaststroke (LCM)

  1. Annamay Pierse – 1:05.74 (2009)
  2. Kelsey Wog – 1:06.44 (2020)
  3. Amanda Reason – 1:06.53 (2009)
  4. Kierra Smith – 1:06.54 (2019)
  5. Alexanne Lepage – 1:06.58 (2023)
  6. Shona Branton – 1:06.59 (2024)
  7. Rachel Nicol – 1:06.68 (2016)
  8. Jillian Tyler – 1:07.18 (2012)
  9. Sydney Pickrem – 1:07.20 (2019)
  10. Faith Knelson – 1:07.30 (2018)

Branton also set a lifetime best in the 50 breast during the meet, breaking 31 seconds for the first time in the heats (30.99) before clocking 30.75 in the final to finish as the runner-up to Castiglioni. Branton now ranks #5 all-time in Canada in the event and is just over half a second back of the Canadian Record (30.23 from Amanda Reason in 2009).

You can see the race video below:


Branton will aim to defend her U SPORTS title in the 100 breast in March, where she and Lepage, a first-year swimmer at the University of Calgary, will go head-to-head in a preview of what’s to come at the Canadian Olympic Trials in May.

At the 2023 Canadian Trials, Branton was 5th (1:08.77) and Lepage was 7th (1:09.66), with Sophie Angus (1:07.68) claiming the victory.

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2 months ago

That will be fun to see who comes out on top at USPORTS.

Shona was WAY behind after her breakout in that 50, but she came on like a freight train. If she improves that…

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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