Sam Short

View Current photo via photo credit Fabio Cetti

Sam Short is an Australian freestyle swimmer. He rose to prominence breaking some Illusstrious Australian age records before becoming a World Champion.

Junior Swimming

At the 2018 Brisbane Short Course Championships, Short collected 5 new Brisbane records, 2 Queensland state records, 2 Queensland All Comers Records, as well as 2 national 14-year-old records. His 15:31.87 overtook Mack Horton’s 1500 national age record by 4 seconds while Short’s 8:09.42 overtook Declan Potts’ 12-year-old 800 free age record. Short also threw down impressive times in the 200 free (1:53.19), 400 free (3:57.70), 200 fly (2:07.12), and 200 back (2:07.72). Post-meet, Short was named one of the 10 Australian boys/men SwimSwim selected as part of a list of 20 Australian swimmers under 20 years old that should be watched. 

Short put up a 7:53.44 800 free to down the 16-year-olds national age record at the 2019 Australian Short Course Swimming Championships. The swim downed the 7:55.08 he clocked just that past August at the NSW Senior State Age Championships.

Short continued his record rampage at the Vorgee Brisbane Short Course Meet. He took on the 200/400/800/1500 free events across the 3-day meet and notched 1 more age record as well as climbing the all-time age rankings in the 3 other events. Owning a lifetime best of 1:49.69 in the 200 free before the meet, Short dropped 2 seconds to a 1:47.63. In the 400 free, Short slashed over 1.5 seconds off his prior PB of 3:47.16 to hit an impressive 3:45.58. The swim made him the #3 16-year-old in the national age rankings behind only legends Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett. 

But Short’s best swims came in the longer events. Already the 800 free ager record holder with a 7:53.44, Short dropped to an absurd 7:43.85 to further distance himself from the rest of his age group. In the 1500, Short dropped 17 seconds to a 14:52.54. The swim again ranked him #3 in the national age rankings, this time behind Hackett and Olympic champion Mack Horton. 

Just a month later, having just turned 17, Short dropped a further 9 seconds to a 14:43.68 in the 1500 free (SCM) at the 2020 Queensland SC Championships. the time ranks him #2 for his age group, not far back from Jamie Harrison’s 14:43.26 set in 2012. He notched another PB of 1:47.15 in the 200 free and yet another in the 400 free with a 3:44.44.

Short couldn’t be stopped when he registered a 7:38.97 800 free to win a national title at multi-site Aussie SC Nationals. The swim takes him to a new level, not only taking the Aussie age record for 17-year-olds from, but now ranking Short as Australia’s 4th fastest performer all-time, but short still has a long way to Grant Hackett’s legendary 7:23.42 NR and WR. Finishing right behind him were Jack McLoughlin (7:39.52) and Thomas Neill (7:39.04), both of whom were also competing at the Brisbane site alongside Short. 

In one of his first big LCM performances, Short dupped under 8:00 in his 800 free with a 7:56.59 at 2020 Queensland Championships to rank #7 all-time, regardless of age, for Australians. In the spring, Short lowered his mark further with a 7:52.18. His swim took down a historic mark: Kieran Perkins’ 17-year-olds all-comers record set all the way back in 1991. Short also put up a 3:47.52 400 free and a 1:47.69 200 free. 

National/International Swimming

2022 Australian Championships (Adelaide, Australia)

Short was excellent in the 400 free final with a 3:44.34. Unfortunately, Short was 3rd behind Elijah Winnington (3:43.10) and Mack Horton (3:44.06) and so missed Worlds qualification. The swim still Qualified him for the Commonwealth Games and makes him Dolphin #832. Short secured an 800 free relay spot in Budapest with a 1:47.35 200 free for 5th. Short Cracked his 800 free PB the next day with a 7:48.65 to definitely take 2nd and qualify individually for World Championships. He wrapped his meet with his first win courtesy of a 15:05.55 1500 free, well back of his seed time of 14:57.22.

2022 FINA World Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

Short was quite solid on the 800 free relay prelims with a 1:46.97, under his best time. Australia barely qualified for the final in 8th. Short was out on the finals relay and found a bit more time with a 1:46.44 split as the Aussies took silver. Short was also 9th in the 800 free with a PB of 7:48.28 and 14th in the 1500 with a 15:10.14. 

2022 Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, England)

After competing at his first World Championship, Short headed to his first Commonwealth Games just under 2 months later. There, he racked up a gold in the 1500 free with a 14:48.54. It was a huge PB swim for, Short, who had struggled at trials and Worlds in the 1500. He also took home a silver in the 400 free, just off his best with a 3:45.07

2022 Queensland Championships (Brisbane, Australia)

Short neared his best time with a 1:47.64 200 free while also clocking a 3:46.63 400 free. Both were good for runner-up to Winnington.

2023 Australian Swimming Championships (Gold Coast, Australia)

Short turned from an up-and-comer to a true force to be reckoned with at the non-selection 2023 Australian Swimming Championship. In the 400 free, Short stopped the clock 2 seconds under his PB with a 3:42.64. That swim made him the #10 performer in history and the #4 Australian, passing Hackett. He doubled up for gold with a 14:58.90, just his 3rd sub-15:00 1500. Short again made himself the #4 Aussie ever with another big best time in the 800 free. His 7:42.96 hacked just under 6 seconds off of that prior best-ever result.

2023 Australian Trials (Melbourne, Australia)

Short backed up his earlier season swim with a 3:43.38 in the 400 free, just .10 seconds ahead ow Winnington for the win. He dropped the 200 free the next day but came back on day 3 with a fire. In the 800 free, Short chopped over 2 seconds off his 800 free PB with a 7:40.39. The time was a new All-Comers record, overtaking the storied All-Comers Record by Ian Thorpe in the process. Thorpe established that record of 7:41.59 back over 20 years ago in 2001. It also moved Short up one spot to 3rd on the all-time Aussie rankings. Short put up another PB in the 1500 free with a 14:46.67 to win by over 20 seconds. 

2023 World Aquatics Championship (Fukuoka, Japan)

Heading into Worlds, there was a little doubt about whether Short would continue his incredible season but he left no doubters after night 1. He led prelims with a 3:42.44 PB before dropping a ridiculous 1.76 seconds in the final to rip a 3:40.68. That tile just beat out Ahmed Hafnaoui by .02 and represented the fastest time since 2012. Swim makes him the #4 performer in history, not far back from both Paul Biedermann’s 3:40.07 WR and Ian Thorpe’s 3:40.08 NR. 

In the 800 free, Short Qualified without a problem as he put up a near PB time of 7:40.90 to lead the field. In the final, Hafnaoui was able to flip the script from the 400 free and beat Short to the wall for gold, 7:37.00 to Short’s 7:37.76. Behind them were 3 more men under 7:40: Bobby Finke (7:38.67), Dan Wiffen (7:39.19), and Lukas Märtens (7:39.48). Short’s time undercut Grant Hackett’s legendary 7:38.65 Australian Record. Hackett’s swim was then a World Record and post-meet, Short said he had not expected to break that record this year. 

If gold and silver were not enough, Short added a bronze to his neck at the end of the meet. After cruising through the 1500 prelims with a 14:53.38, his 3rd fastest performance, Short went after it in the final. Short rocketed out and led the field by nearly 2 seconds at the 500. He continued to lead Hafnaoui and Finke through the 950 before being overtaken by Hafnboui by the 1000 and Finke by the 1050. Short’s bold tactics were not in vain though, as he still held off the rest of the field for bronze in a massive PB of 14:37.28. 

–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Silver 800 Freestyle Relay 2022 World Championships
Gold 400 Free 2023 World Championships
Silver 800 Free 2023 World Championships
Bronze 1500 Free 2023 World Championships
Gold 1500 Free 2022 Commonwealth Games
Silver 400 Free 2022 Commonwealth Games

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 200 Free 1:47.35 05/18/22 2022 Australian Swimming Championships
Adelaide, Australia
lcm 400 Free 3:40.68 07/23/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
lcm 800 Free 7:37.76 07/26/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
lcm 1500 Free 14:37.28 07/30/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
lcm 400 Free 3:41.81 11/27/20 2020 Australian SC National Championships
lcm 800 Free 7:38.97 11/27/20 2020 Australian SC National Championships
lcm 1500 Free 14:43.68 09/24/20 2020 Queensland Short Course Championship
Brisbane, Australia