Commonwealth Games Preview – Women’s Breaststroke

50 breaststroke Event Details:

  • Heats – Thursday July 24th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Semi-finals – Thursday July 24th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)
  • Finals – Friday July 25th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Leiston Pickett (AUS) – 30.84
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Jade Edmistone (AUS) – 30.51 (2006)
  • Commonwealth Record – Sarah Katsoulis (AUS) – 30.16 (2009)

2010 Commonwealth Games champion Australian Leiston Pickett is going into the games with the fastest time this year in the Commonwealth. Pickett is one of the swimmers with the most international experience in the pool, but has not swum a best time since 2011 when she posted a 30.24 where she ultimately finished fourth. She did not make the Australian World Championship team last year and recorded a season best of 30.86.

18 year old Sophie Taylor of England will be swimming in her first major senior international competition. Taylor has had success on the international stage as a junior winning a bronze in the 50 breaststroke at last year’s Junior World Championships. She has been improving at a steady pace in the 50 breaststroke, coming into the meet with a season and lifetime best of 30.98 almost half a second faster than her previous best.

Sally Hunter of Australia has primarily been a 200 specialist throughout her career, but placed second to Pickett in the 50. Hunter is entering the games as the third ranked swimmer in the Commonwealth with a season and lifetime best time of 31.18. Teammate Lorna Tonks is going into the competition with the fourth ranked time having swum a season’s best of 31.27. This will be Tonks’, who is 25 years old, first time on a senior national team. One swimmer who does not show up in the rankings is Jamaican

Alia Atkinson. Atkinson has not swum the event in 2014, but enters the games with a best time of 30.91 which she posted last year at the Mesa Grand Prix. Atkinson performed extremely well on the biggest stage in London, but only had a mediocre World Championships missing the final in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. Atkinson had phenomenal performances at the World Cup series, but has not had that kind of success long course since the Olympics.

Of course, beyond all of that, this race should be the most-watched of the entire Commonwealth Games and here’s why: the fastest Commonwealth swimmer of the year so far in 2014 is India’s Pryanka Priyadrshni: the swimmer who obliterated the Indiana National Record at the Aruba National Championships in early June: a swim that many have accused of being done by a male teammate. FINA still hasn’t added her time to the World Rankings, but the Bermuda Swimming said at the time that they had no choice but to validate the resultAnything even close to that time, really even anything under 32 seconds, could be vindication.


My top five:

  1. Sophie Taylor (ENG) – BT – 30.98 – 2014
  2. Leiston Pickett (AUS) – BT – 30.24 – 2011
  3. Alia Atkinson (JAM) – BT – 30.91 – 2013
  4. Sally Hunter (AUS) – BT – 31.28 – 2014
  5. Lorna Tonks (AUS) – BT – 31.27 – 2014

100 breaststroke Event Details:

  • Heats – Sunday July 27th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Semi-finals – Sunday July 27th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)
  • Finals – Monday July 28th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Leisel Jones (AUS) – 1:05.84
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Leisel Jones (AUS) – 1:05.09 (2006)
  • Commonwealth Record – Leisel Jones (AUS) – 1:05.09 (2006)

There are many of the same players involved in the 100 as there are in the 50, Sophie Taylor being one of them. This will be her first major international competition, but I am betting on her to have a lot of success in Glasgow. Once again she has success as a junior in the 100 winning the silver at World Junior Championships last year in Dubai. At the British Gas Championships she took gold in all three breaststroke events and broke her own national record in the 100 posting a 1:07.08, the top ranked time in the Commonwealth. Unlike the 50

Alia Atkinson has competed in the 100 this season and is going into the event with the second fastest time in the Commonwealth posting a time of 1:07.15 at the Orlando Grand Prix. The 100 is the event that she has had the most success at major international competitions, finishing fourth at the Olympics, but she did fail to make the finals in Barcelona.

The three Australians Tonks, Pickett and Hunter enter the competition with the next three fastest times in the Commonwealth. At the Australian Championships the three had a close finish for the title with Tonks winning in a time of 1:07.31 Pickett finishing in a time of 1:07.56 and Hunter collecting the bronze in a time of 1:07.73. Tonks recorded her season’s best in the semi-final posting a time of 1:07.36.

Pickett has a best time in the of 1:06.88, second only to Atkinson who has a lifetime best of 1:06.79.

This pick has been made harder by the fact both Taylor and Atkinson are having spectacular years in 2014. Atkinson seems to get close to a lifetime best at every meet she swims, and Taylor has been breaking National Records left-and-right.

My top five:

  1. Sophie Taylor (ENG) – BT – 1:07.08 – 2014
  2. Alia Atkinson (JAM) – BT – 1:06.79 – 2012
  3. Leiston Pickett (AUS) – BT – 1:06.88 – 2012
  4. Sally Hunter (AUS) – BT – 1:07.46 – 2013
  5. Lorna Tonks (AUS) – BT – 1:07.26 – 2014

200 breaststroke

Event Details:

  • Heats – Saturday July 26th – 10:30 am local (5:30 am EST)
  • Finals – Saturday July 26th – 7:00 pm local (2:00 pm EST)

Event History:

  • 2010 Champion – Leisel Jones (AUS) – 2:25.38
  • Commonwealth Games Record – Leisel Jones (AUS) – 2:20.72 (2006)
  • Commonwealth Record – Annamay Pierse (CAN) – 2:20.12 (2009)

Australian Taylor McKeown is another rookie on the Australian national team is going into the games with the top ranked time of 2:22.10, almost two and a half seconds ahead of her next closest competitor. McKeown has had incredible improvement in the event over the last two years. In 2013 she went from a lifetime best of 2:26.80 to a 2:24.92 and in 2014 she has improved that time by almost three seconds. McKeown has competed for Australia at the 2011 World Youth Championships and then again at the 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships.

McKeown did show early in the year that she could compete head to head with some of the world’s best defeating both Kanako Watanabe and Mio Motegi of Japan to take the 200 breaststroke title at the BHP Billiton Super Series.

Sophie Taylor is going in tied with Molly Renshaw for the second ranked time in the Commonwealth with both swimmers having recorded a time of 2:24.46. Taylor posted the English record time at the British Gas Championships defeating Renshaw for the title. Renshaw tied the English record posting the identical time at the Japan Open in June.

Renshaw has had experience on the international stage representing Great Britain at the 2011 World Championships.

The veteran Sally Hunter goes in with the next fastest time of 2:24.91. Hunter’s experience goes back to representing Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. Fellow Australian Tessa Wallace enters the competition with the next fastest time having posted a 2:25.29. Wallace won the silver in this event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Alia Atkinson has confirmed that she will also swim this 200 breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games. With the event coming early in the meet, before the 100, the former NCAA Champion in the yards version of this event could do some damage. She was a 2:25.52 at the Mesa Grand Prix – a new lifetime best by three seconds.

My top five:

  1. Taylor McKeown (AUS) – BT – 2:22.10 – 2014
  2. Sophie Taylor (ENG) – BT – 2:24.46 – 2014
  3. Sally Hunter (AUS) – BT – 2:23.94 – 2013
  4. Tessa Wallace (AUS) – BT – 2:25.29 – 2014
  5. Molly Renshaw (ENG) – BT – 2:24.46


In This Story

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Is Alia doing the 200 there? If so, I would have her ranked about 4th her performance at Mesa was 2:25 something…

Hswimmer – that’s a very good question, and one we debated internally too. I just asked her, and yes she is swimming the 200. Should’ve thought to ask beforehand.


Awesome, I love her stroke her 200 has seemed to improve a lot the past year, can’t wait to see how she does! Tell her good luck from me, Harrison.


Interesting to see Canadian women breastrokers who were once to strong in the Commonwealth not even in top 5.. Lets hope that changes come the games!!

David Davies

There is another Womens Breaststroke event the Para swimming 100 metre. Any comments on that?

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

Read More »