Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
When the franchises of the International Swimming League were announcing their rosters, the Los Angeles Current looked like the clear-cut backstroke favorites with world record-setters Kathleen Baker and Ryan Murphy along with Olympic champ Matt Grevers.
But in Lewisville, Texas, last week, it was the London Roar that dominated the backstrokes, thanks in large part to a sweep from 19-year-old Minna Atherton on the women’s side.
Maybe most impressive were Atherton’s pair of U.S. Open record-setting 100 backs in Sunday’s session. Atherton started the session leading off the London Roar’s women’s medley relay in 55.45. That was the fastest 100-short-course-meter backstroke ever swum by a woman on American soil by three tenths of a second. In the very next session, Atherton would go 55.43 to lower the record again and win the backstroke individually.
Considering Atherton came in with a lifetime-best of 56.04 and Baker entered with a career-best 55.91, the race wasn’t that heavily tilted in Baker’s favor. But few expected Atherton to win by 1.4 seconds. Her medley relay margin was even bigger, at 1.5 seconds over Baker, and it allowed London a blowout relay win by almost three seconds in a swing of 8 points. The individual 100 was a swing of 4 points. Had Atherton finished second in all three backstrokes, London would have lost six points and LA gained six – more than half of the 27.5-point team margin at the end of the Lewisville meet.
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