With double world champion Emily Seebohm showing no signs of stopping, Australia’s backstroking scene looks all that much more formidable knowing that there is another phenom in the age group ranks already making a name for herself.
As Queensland slammed the door on its 7th straight State Teams Short Course Championships this past weekend, the team can look to Minna Atherton as one of its movers and shakers from the meet. At just 15 years old, Atherton is coming off of a summer that saw her win the Junior World Championships title in both the 100m and 200m backstrokes (long course).
Atherton kept her red-hot streak going, winning the trifecta of backstroke races at the SC Championships, earning brand new records in the process. She won the 50m backstroke event in a blistering 26.83, a time which ranks as the fastest 15 year-old Australian of all time, surpassing the powerhouse Emily Seebohm who held the top time for 15 year olds at 27.07. Atherton’s 26.83 makes her the 5th-fastest Australian female of all time.
The 100m backstroke was Atherton’s next victim, where the Queensland swimmer registered a gold medal-winning time of 57.88. This, too, now ranks as the fastest mark for a 15 year-old Australian of all time, taking over Seebohm’s record of 57.91. Atherton’s performance also ranks as the 9th fastest in Australia’s storied short course history.
Finally, Atherton completed her trio of victories with the gold in the girls’ 200m backstroke, touching in 2:06.83 for yet another 15-year old girls’ record. Her time slashed about three tenths off of the previous top time for the age, which was held by Mikkayla Sheridan Chandler at 2:07.11.
As remarkable as Atherton’s swims where, it is even more incredible to see that all three of her times also surpass that of the current records for 16 year-old girls in each event. In other words, at just 15 years old, Atherton is Australia’s fastest female backstroker under the age of 16 of all time.