Texas A&M sophomore Breeja Larson caused a fandom firestorm at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Austin when, as a freshman, she scored silver medals in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Just a year earlier, nobody had even heard of this freshman phenom (which is partially because that’s about when she took up USA Swimming), and all of a sudden she was a buzzy pick to make the 2012 Olympic Team!
This past summer, Larson flew under the radar a bit. She missed USA Swimming Nationals after dealing with some health problems that plagued her summer. She took solid B-Finals in both breaststrokes at the Santa Clara Grand Prix in June, but still left herself with a ways to go to make an Olympic team timewise (2:33 in the 200, 1:10 in the 100).
But perhaps her most notable accomplishment of the summer was the least-noticed. That’s because it took place at the Arizona Masters Long Course State Championship meet. There, she put up a 1:10.32 in the 100 breaststroke, which is a career-best time for her. Note that these times don’t carry-over to USA Swimming’s SWIMS database, so the result won’t show up there. It has not been officially ratified on USMS’ records list, but that unofficially crushes the Masters National Record for the 18-24 age group that was set all the way back in 1995 by Elizabeth Nelson, which formerly stood at 1:13.62.
It also clears a 2010 swim by three-time Olympic medalist Megan Quann Jendrick as the fastest time ever done in official Masters competition. Jendrick swam a 1:10.56 in the 25-29 age group last year.
That time is the best in the country this year by a Masters swimmer by more than four seconds (and that’s ahead of 27-year old Britta O’Leary, who is a tour de force in Masters Swimming).
Larson also swam a 2:36 in the 200 breaststroke to just miss the record in that event, but that time sort of serves to put her 100 in perspective. This implies that her result in the 100 was not done in peak conditioning, nor prime circumstances, and yet she still went a best-time and a 1:10 in the shorter race. These are even more hints as to what this superb talent can become down the line.