Kathleen Dawson Lowers European/British Records To 58.08, 4th Fastest All Time


Swimming the opening leg of the women’s 4×100 medley relay, Kathleen Dawson lowered the British and European 100 backstroke records to a 58.08. She took both marks from Gemma Spofforth, who held them at a 58.12 from her 2009 performance.

Spofforth set the former world record to win gold in the event at the 2009 World Swimming Championships. Dawson’s opening split was around 0.4 seconds quicker than was Spofforth went out but Spofforth brought it home quicker back in 2009 with a 29.41 closing 50 compared to Dawson’s 29.85.

Split Comparison

50m 100m
K. Dawson (2021 European Championships) 28.23 58.08 (29.85)
G. Spofforth (2009 World Championships) 28.71 58.12 (29.41)

Along with the British and European records, this swim for Dawson is also a new European Championships record, lowering it from her former mark of 58.44 from the semi-finals of the 100 backstroke. Dawson actually swam a 58.18 which would have again lowered the record during the 100 backstroke final but due to an error with the timing system, all times heat were canceled. The final was re-swum later in the meet and Dawson repeated the victory but swam a 58.49 for gold which was a touch slower than her semi-final swim of 58.49.

Women’s 100 Backstroke Final (Original Results – Cancelled)

  1. Kathleen Dawson (GBR), 58.18
  2. Kira Toussaint (NED), 59.01
  3. Maria Kameneva (RUS), 59.13

Women’s 100 Backstroke Final (Re-Swim – Official)

  1. Kathleen Dawson (GBR), 58.49
  2. Margherita Panziera (ITA), 59.01
  3. Maria Kameneva (RUS), 59.22

Dawson raced as a part of the British mixed 4×100 medley relay earlier on in the meet, contributing a 58.43 backstroke leg during the final. The British went on to win gold in the relay with a 3:38.82 which lowered their own championship record from a 3:40.18 set in 2018.

That gives Dawson a total of 5 sub-59 100 backstroke performance at just these championships alone:

Kathleen Dawson 100 Backstrokes at the 2021 European Championships

  1. Women’s 4×100 Medley Final: 58.08
  2. Women’s 100 Backstroke Final (#1): 58.18 (Unofficial)
  3. Mixed 4×100 Medley Final: 58.43
  4. Women’s 100 Backstroke Semi-Final: 58.44
  5. Women’s 100 Backstroke Final (#2): 58.49
  6. Women’s 100 Backstroke Prelim: 59.32

Her 58.08 100 backstroke moves Dawson from her 8th rank heading into the championships to #4 in terms of all-time performers in the history of the event. Ahead of her are world record holder Regan Smith who swam a 57.57 at the 2019 World Championships, Kaylee McKeown who posted a 57.63 earlier this year, and Kathleen Baker who swam a 58.00 back in 2018 which was then a world record.

All-Time Women’s Long Course 100 Backstroke Performers

  1. Regan Smith – 57.57 (2019)
  2. Kaylee McKeown – 57.63 (2021)
  3. Kathleen Baker – 58.00 (2018)
  4. Kathleen Dawson – 58.08 (2021)
  5. Kylie Masse – 58.10 (2017)
  6. Gemma Spofforth – 58.12 (2009)
  7. Anastasia Zueva – 58.18 (2009)
  8. Emily Seebohm – 58.23 (2012)

Dawson and McKeown are the only 2 swimmers within the top 6 all-time performers whose swim was not a world record at the time as Spofforth’s 58.12, Masse’s 58.10, Baker’s 58.00, and Smith’s 57.57 all set new world records.

A 58.08 keeps Kathleen Dawson at #2 in the world this season, improving upon her 58.24 swim from 2021 British Olympic Trials.

2020-2021 LCM Women 100 Back

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With her previous 58.24, Dawson qualified to race the event at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Having delivered a gold medal performance (twice) against Europe’s leading backstrokers including Kira Toussaint, Margherita Panziera, and Maria Kameneva, Dawson will have a chance to go up against the best in world in the form of Smith and McKeon. The women’s 100 backstroke has shaped up to be one of the most anticipated events of the summer and as Dawson nears the 58-second barrier, she’s nearly within striking distance of that coveted gold medal.

Following Kathleen Dawson‘s 58.08 split, Molly Renshaw (1:05.72), Laura Stephens (57.55), and Anna Hopkin (52.66) contributed their respective breast, fly, and freestyle legs to establish a combined time of 3:54.01. That was enough to win gold and take down Russia’s 2018 European Championships record of 3:54.22. Russia’s contingent followed with a 3:56.25 for silver and Italy was a 3:56.30 for bronze.

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1 year ago

Kylie Masse gonna have her work cut out for her! 4 swimmers faster than her prior world record she set in 2017… and now smoligia and white knocking on masse best time! Masse could finish 6th potentially in Tokyo (behind 2 Americans, Mckowen Seebohm, and Dawson) not saying she will finish 6th but the 100 back has gotten so deep that even on her top game she may finish 2nd or 3rd

1 year ago

58 is the new 59… same in men’s 100m breastroke it seems

1 year ago

Sub 58 for podium?????

Reply to  Bruh
1 year ago

I think so, I posted the same thing at the end of last year and received a lot of downvotes, it seems like more people start to believe it as well.

1 year ago

Holy Moly, the women’s 100 back is so jam packed with talent that I had completely forgotten about Kylie Masse. I can’t ever recall an event like this.

Reply to  usaswimerror
1 year ago

yup me too and she is 2 time reigning world champion…its bonkers…very well could require a sub 58 to medal…just crazy fast.

Swim nerd
Reply to  maverick1993
1 year ago

100 back for both the men and women will be one of the most competitive events in the past 20 years