Happy 16th Birthday to Australia's Yolane Kukla

At 14, Australia’s Yolane Kukla won National Titles in the 50 free and 50 fly at the 2010 Australian Championships. That’s not age group titles, that’s overall, swimming against the best, national titles. A few months later, at 15, she took a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 50 free. The meteoric rise of swimming prodigy Yolane Kukla, who only took up the sport seriously when she was 12, is well-documented.

But she turned 16 today, and is coming into her own as a huge part of Australia’s 2012 Olympic future. 16 was the same age where her American peer, Missy Franklin, went from “really good for a young swimmer” to just ridiculously good, period. Will Kukla have a similar breakout, perhaps at next year’s Australian Olympic Trials? That remains to be seen, but she’s certainly going to be a big piece of the Aussie relays as the country’s 3rd-ranked 100 freestyler in 2011.

So who now is the best 15-year old swimmer in the world? That honor goes to 15-year old Shiwen Ye of China (it’s amazing how many fast 15-year old girls there are in the world). She is the defending World Champion in the 200 IM, and in that race in Shanghai she posted a 2:08.90 that is the fastest time ever done in textile. As scary as it is, she won’t turn 16 until March 1, 2012.


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Ye Shiwen’s last 50 in that 200 IM swim was ridiculously fast, she could be among the best in 200 free if she trains for it.

It’s true that Kukla only started swimming when she was 12, but before that she was a very promising gymnast, and that explains why she was so good already at 14.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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