Luke Greenbank Breaks British Record in 200 Back, Jumps to World #4


23-year old Luke Greenbank took almost a full second off his own British Record in the 200 backstroke in prelims on Friday.

Greenbank dominated his heat, heat 4, of the event and took the top seed overall with a 1:54.67. That breaks his own British Record of 1:55.34 done at the Britsih Swimming Invitation meet in March.

Comparative Splits:

Greenbank Greenbank
New Record Old Record
50m 27.02 27.43
100m 28.61 28.9
150m 29.5 29.7
200m 29.54 29.31
Final Time 1:54.67 1:55.34

When Greenbank swam his 1:55 in March, he broke a record set 11 years ago by James Goddard at 1:55.58.

Greenbank continues to show big drops in the 200 backstroke – after no drops from a 1:56.89 in 2015 as a 17-year old until 2019, he’s now improved over 2 seconds in the last 2 years. His swim now ranks him 4th in the world this season. He also won a bronze medal in the event at the 2019 World Championships.

2020-2021 LCM Men 200 Back

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Greenbank’s swim also positions him as the 13th-best performer globally in the history of the event: one spot ahead of Arkady Vyatchanin (1:54.75) and one spot behind Michael Phelps (1:54.65), who was better known as a butterflier and IMer but had plenty of backstroke ability as well.

While he was well ahead of the field in prelims, Greenbank still may need another gear to win gold on Saturday, however: the 2nd qualifier through to the semi-final was the European Record holder Evgeny Rylov of Russia in 1:55.74.

Still, the British Swimming faithful will focus more on the 53.34 he swam in the 100 backstroke final earlier in the meet: a personal best but not a British Record. With Adam Peaty, James Guy, and Duncan Scott closing the medley relay, Greenbank’s backstroke is really the weakest leg for the British men as they seek Olympic gold in the medley relay. But as Greenbank creeps closer-and-closer to the expected 52-lows or 51-highs of the likes of Ryan Murphy, Kliment Kolesnikov, Evgeny Rylov, and Xu Jiayu, that weakness becomes stronger-and-stronger, and a British victory becomes more-and-more likely.

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1 year ago

Wait greenbank should be 1.54.67 not 1.55?

Reply to  Arnold
1 year ago

Oh my bad, it was the previous time of him didn’t see it 😅

Fresh Cuts
1 year ago

USA needs someone who can drop a 57 high relay split even more now. Even with that they’re probably done for if Peaty goes a 56 low.

Reply to  Fresh Cuts
1 year ago

The simple math say if Britain can pull a 52 anything on back and a 56 low on Breast the field are competing for silver and bronze. But they are big ifs.

1 year ago

Little catch, Greenbank was 17 when he went 1.56 in 2015. Listed as 18 for record purposes in the UK, but his DOB is Sept 1997, so he was still 17 in Baku.

Nice to see a former Junior star coming good after a few struggles.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dee
1 year ago

Mitch Larkin will not swim the 200BK in Tokyo as it again clashes with the 200IM. Greenbank has to be considered a likely medallist given what he just did.

1 year ago

Larkin hasn’t revealed which event he’s chosen has he?

Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

When he recently went 1.54.3 he said he wished he hadn’t gone so fast which kind of gave it away that he was sacrificing an event in which he’s really competitive. It’s surely been agonising for him but I do think the 200IM suits him slightly better.

1 year ago

I think the 200 IM gives him a more likely shot at the gold, since there’s no clear favorite; but given how many guys are bunched up around the 1:56 mark, he could very well miss out on any medal.

But in the 200 backstroke, I doubt he’ll be able to compete with Rylov for gold. He’ll really just need to stay ahead of Greenbank and/or Murphy for the silver or bronze.

In short, if he wants to go for the gold, then I think he’ll swim the 200 IM. If he’d rather have a better likelihood of getting any medal, I think he goes with the 200 backstroke. It’ll be interested to see what he chooses. Since… Read more »

Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Would there be any way to restructure the event order to get rid of the 200 back/200 IM double without creating any other conflict between common doubles? I feel like this is the most common double I see in the Olympics that swimmers have trouble with.

Mr Piano
1 year ago

Larkin should definitely go for the 200 IM

Martin McEvoy
1 year ago

Worth noting a big backstroke leg from Joe Litchfield in heats earlier this week. Britain’s strength across numerous relays is such that certain key swimmers could find themselves overstretched if they aren’t able to be rested in heats. Greenbank and Kathleen Dawson have been revelations this week, but the strong backup showings of Cassie Wild and Joe Litchfield are equally important. Adam Peaty has always had Wilby and Murdoch able to do a good turn, and Anderson and Hopkin form another such pair.

The weakness going forward may be James Guy, staring down the barrel of 4 relays, and 8 relay legs.on top of whatever his own programme is. British butterfly is still pretty week, especially without the Swiss Army… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Peters time is almost as good as Guy..

They can qualifiy with Greenbank, Wilby, Peters and someone else not named Scott

1 year ago

US medley relay is in a precarious position. If Murphy does a 52.XX, the breaststroker goes 59.XX, Dressel goes 49 high, and Held goes 47.XX, then the US would have no chance of winning. For the US to win, Murphy would have to re-break the world record, the breaststroker would have to go 58 mid at most, Dressel would have to go 49 low at least, and Held would have to go at most 46 high.

swan ronson
Reply to  Notaswimmer
1 year ago

So you’re saying that unless they break the WR by about a second, they have “no chance”?… nahhh fam I ain buy it

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of 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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