Atherton Breaks US Open Record in 100 Backstroke, Becomes 4th-Fastest All-Time


London Roar’s Minna Atherton, one of several Australian standouts on display this weekend, broke the U.S. Open Record twice within 35 minutes Sunday at the International Swimming League’s Lewisville-Dallas competition, featuring the Group B teams in their ISL debut.

At 2:32 pm on Sunday, Atherton blasted London Roar’s second women’s medley relay team out to an early lead, hitting the wall in 55.45, taking 0.26 off of Katinka Hosszu‘s 2015 U.S. Open Record. Hosszu set the now-former record of 55.71 leading off the Europe All-Stars 4 x 100 medley relay at the 2015 Duel in the Pool in Indianapolis. London Roar’s fully Australian relay of Atherton, Jess Hansen (1:04.73), Emma McKeon (55.67), and Cate Campbell (52.06) won the race by nearly three seconds with a total time of 3:47.91.

At 3:06 pm, a mere 34 minutes later, Atherton won the women’s 100 backstroke with a 55.43, taking another 0.02 off her brand-new record. Kathleen Baker of the LA Current placed 2nd in 56.89, a second shy of her personal best and 1.46 seconds behind Atherton. Atherton just missed the Australian National Record, which stands at 55.31 and was set in 2014 by Emily Seebohm, who represents team Energy Standard in ISL competition.

In addition to lowering the U.S. Open Record, Atherton vaulted herself to become the 4th-fastest woman in history in the event and established both the 7th and 8th-fastest performances all-time with her two swims today. Hosszu remains the World Record holder in the 100 SCM backstroke, and still holds 4 of the 10 fastest performances of all time in the event. Compatriot Seebohm, the Aussie National Record holder, maintains 3 of the 10 fastest performances all-time.

Atherton was the most dominant backstroker of the entire meet by sweeping the 50, 100, and 200 distances, taking the 200 and 50-meter crowns on Day 1. Saturday, Atherton won the 200 backstroke in a blazing-fast 2:00.58, hitting the wall a full 2-and-a-half seconds over LA Current’s Baker. The 50 was much closer, but Atherton got her hand on the wall first in 25.99, just ahead of Current’s Béryl Gastaldello. Hosszu placed 3rd behind Atherton and Baker in the 200 backstroke, but did not swim the 100, and was utilized on the butterfly leg of Iron’s medley relay.

Atherton’s 3 individual victories contributed a decisive 27 points to London Roar’s campaign in its ISL debut. The only event Atherton did not win was the women’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay, where she contributed a 52.33 on London Roar’s second-place relay, which was only bested by Roar’s winning squad, a vital contribution to the team’s overall points. Atherton tied for 6th in the overall MVP standings for the meet, finishing with a total of 35 points. London Roar also took the team title, finishing 27.5 points ahead of runners-up LA Current.


  1. London Roar – 484.5
  2. LA Current – 457.0
  3. Iron – 402.0
  4. NY Breakers – 278.5

A comparison of both of Atherton’s swims today versus Hosszu’s former record is below, as well are lists that show Atherton’s ranking on the all-time performers and all-time performances lists, respectively.

U.S. Open Record Comparison

Atherton (2019) – Ind. Atherton (2019) – Relay Hosszu (2015) – Duel in the Pool
1st 50 26.76 26.83 27.41
2nd 50 28.67 28.62 28.30
Total Time 55.43 55.45 55.71

All-Time Top 10 Performers

  1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2014, 55.03
  2. Shiho Sakai (JPN), 2010, 55.23
  3. Emily Seebohm (AUS), 2014, 55.31
  4. Minna Atherton (AUS), 2019, 55.43*
  5. Olivia Smoliga (USA), 2018, 55.47
  6. Goa Chang (CHN), 2010, 55.48
  7. Daryna Zevina (UKR), 2014, 55.54
  8. Kira Toussaint (NED), 2019, 55.74
  9. Kathleen Baker (USA), 2018, 55.91
  10. Courtney Bartholomew (USA), 2015

All-Time Top 10 Performances

  1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2014, 55.03
  2. Shiho Sakai (JPN), 2010, 55.23
  3. Emily Seebohm (AUS), 2014, 55.31
  4. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2014, 55.34
  5. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2014, 55.38
  6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2015, 55.42
  7. Minna Atherton (AUS), 2019, 55.43*
  8. Minna Atherton (AUS), 2019, 55.45*
  9. Emily Seebohm (AUS), 2015, 55.46
  10. Emily Seebohm (AUS), 2014/Olivia Smoliga (USA), 2018, 55.47

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Great to see another young backstroke doing well.

Fingers crossed she can continue developing and test Regan next year at Tokyo.


Wow, I wonder what Atherton can do when properly tapered (assuming she’s not for this meet).


That Top 10 list is missing Kira’s new Dutch record from last week.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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