Efimova Throws Down Fastest Breaststroke Leg In History: 1:04.03


Russia’s Yuliya Efimova added a 4th medal to her 2017 World Championship collection during the final female event of the meet, the women’s 400 medley relay. Her and the Russian squad annihilated the European record to win silver in 3:53.38, and Efimova had a historic breaststroke split.

The 25-year-old threw down the fastest breaststroke leg in history, coming in at 1:04.03. She surpasses Chen Huijia of China’s 1:04.12 from the 2009 World Championships.

Lilly King, who broke the 100m world record in 1:04.13, split 1:04.48 on the relay as the Americans won gold. She also split 1:04.17 on the mixed medley relay earlier in the meet.

Former world record holder Jessica Hardy‘s fastest split is just 1:05.10. The American team was DQed in prelims in 2009 preventing Rebecca Soni from throwing down something there, as she went 1:04.8 individually. Her best split comes from 2011, 1:04.71. Ruta Meilutyte, also a former world record holder, hasn’t done a relay split in many years given Lithuania hasn’t entered any relays at any big international meets.

Though mixed lead-off legs don’t count as official times, we’re going to count King’s mixed split here in the top relay legs in history. Check out the list below:

  1. Yuliya Efimova, 1:04.03 (2017)
  2. Chen Huijia, 1:04.12 (2009)
  3. Lilly King, 1:04.15 (2017)
  4. Lilly King, 1:04.48 (2017)
  5. Leisel Jones, 1:04.58 (2008)
  6. Sarah Katsoulis, 1:04.65 (2009)
  7. Rebecca Soni, 1:04.71 (2011)
  8. Yuliya Efimova (2013) / Rebecca Soni (2012), 1:04.82
  9. Katie Meili, 1:04.93 (2016)

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Bill Bloomberg
5 years ago

A safe relay start should give you a 7/10ths advantage over a flat start. Plus, the adrenaline makes you go even faster. You don’t want to let your teammates down. It is pretty cmon to see relay splits a full second faster than what a swimmer does individually. King’s relay splits in Rio and Budapest were both slower than her individual swims though. Instead of going 1:03 low she goes 1:04 mid. It is over a second off of what she is capable of. It is still faster than anyone else we could have pit on the relay but I have to wonder whether she really gets up for the relay or does she think her day is done after… Read more »

5 years ago

In water Efimova is clearly the best breaststroker. Her style is brilliant.

Vlad Squad loves breaststroke
Reply to  Perpe
5 years ago

Yeah. She really catches and doesn’t bounce her head up as much as King. Although I think she could work on the stopping in the middle of the stroke, she should try it a little more smooth. But i really shouldn’t comment until I’m her speed. lol

5 years ago

“Her and her Russian squad” should be “She and her Russian squad”, no?

Reply to  applesorangesandbananas
5 years ago


Ed P
5 years ago

That’s an incredible swim. I feel like she’s just getting faster too. Btw who the hell is Chen Huijia and what’s up with all these Chinese one hit wonders?

Reply to  Ed P
5 years ago

I can barely find anything online about her and her swimming career, can’t even find her name in Chinese characters to be able to search that and see what comes up. Mysterious. You are right, they do have a lot of one hit wonders from china that occasionally produce a solid time at one big international competition, then fade into oblivion, never showing up in swim results ever again.

Reply to  Ed P
5 years ago

A lot of them showed up at the 2009 world champs with the super suits. I have a feeling that had something to do with that.

crooked donald
5 years ago

Of course, because her flat start is horrendous. In the water, she’s the fastest 100 breastroker, she was just at King’s hip on the start.

Reply to  crooked donald
5 years ago

Hopefully she focuses on that start the next couple of years so she can get that double in Tokyo.

Vlad Squad loves breaststroke
5 years ago

I am just happy her relay start was better than the Rio Olympic one. 😉

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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