During the mid-2000s, the fastest breaststroker in the world was American Brendan Hansen, who held both the 100-meter and 200-meter breast world records for 4 years. Hansen was also the only American man to swim under one minute in the 100-meter breast and 2:10 in the 200-meter breast from 2004-2008.
After picking up a silver (100 BR) and bronze medals (200 BR) from the 2004 Olympics, Hansen became hungry for individual Olympic gold during the 2005-2008 Olympic quad. At the 2006 U.S. Nationals, Hansen secured his spot for the 2006 Pan Pacs and 2007 Worlds teams for the 100 and 200 breast, taking down both of his own world records (59.30/2:09.04) from the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In 2005, FINA allowed a single downward dolphin kick into the breaststroke pullout. This new rule gave breaststrokers extra propulsion off their turns, and changed the stroke’s future dramatically.
Off the start, Hansen was ruthless, taking the race out in 27.66. Throughout the race, Hansen maintained a tempo of 1.15-1.30s, which was roughly the same as event runner-up Scott Usher (1:01.07). However, Hansen’s stroke was very biomechanically efficient that he was able to take 6 strokes less than Usher.
- Hansen: 18/21
- Usher: 20/25
Hansen brought the race home in a 31.47, which was good enough to break his world record with a 59.13, which stood for 2 years until Kitajima broke it at the 2008 Olympics (58.91).
Hansen flexed his strong distance per stroke during the 200 breast final, immediately establishing a body-length lead on the field at the first turn. When looking at Hansen’s stroke in comparison to the others in the field, he finished each stroke cycle in a complete streamline, allowing him to build a high distance per stroke. However, what made his stroke lethal was how efficient every stroke was. Hansen swam 17 strokes after the first 50 off the start, yet his consistent technique propelled him to swim 17/18/20 strokes for the remaining three 50s.
At the finish, Hansen touched in at 2:08.74, knocking out his second world record of the meet. His world record also marked the first 200 breast swim under 2:09. At the 2006 Pan Pacs in August, Hansen broke his month-old world record at 2:08.50, which stood for two years until Kitajima took it down in June 2008 (2:07.51).
100 BR World Record Splits
200 BR World Record Splits
|2004 US Trials||2006 US Nationals||2004 US Trials||2006 US Nationals|
|1st 50||27.93||1st 50||27.66||1st 50||29.22||1st 50||28.87|
|2nd 50||31.37||2nd 50||31.47||2nd 50||32.66||2nd 50||32.71|
|Final Time||59.30||Final Time||59.13||3rd 50||33.50||3rd 50||33.26|
|4th 50||33.66||4th 50||33.90|
|Final Time||2:09.04||Final Time||2:08.74|