Minna Atherton Stumbles; Mie Nielsen No-shows in 50 Back Prelims


  • All sports: Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
  • Pool swimming: Sunday, July 21 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
  • The Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, Gwangju, Korea
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Day 4 prelims heat sheets

Heat 4 of the women’s 50 backstroke prelims was full of surprises. After winning the silver medal in the 100 backstroke on Monday with her first-ever sub-59 second performance (58.85), Australia’s Minna Atherton failed to make the semi-finals of the 50 backstroke on Wednesday morning in Gwangju. The 19-year-old Atherton was seeded 20th with 28.03 but finished sixth in her heat with 28.32. That performance landed her in 19th place. Atherton is the current World Junior Record-holder in the 50m backstroke. She first broke the record in prelims at the 2016 Brisbane Sprint Championships with 27.73, then lowered it to 27.49 in finals at the same meet.

But Atherton wasn’t the only anomaly in heat 4. Mie Nielsen of Denmark and Alexandra Touretski of Switzerland, seeded 17th and 23rd respectively, were no-shows in lanes 7 and 8. Nielsen, who is only 22, already has a storied career in international swimming. She won her first international medals at the 2011 European Short Course Swimming Championships and swam at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 100/200 backstrokes and as part of Denmark’s 4×100 freestyle and medley relays. Although she missed the 2013 World Championships with a knee injury, Nielsen placed third in the 100 back and fifth in the 50 back at 2015 Worlds in Kazan. In 2015, at just 18 years old, Nielsen broke the World Record in the 100m backstroke at the Mediterranean Open. She won the 100 back with a Championships Record of 58.73 at 2016 European Championships in London. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Nielsen won a bronze medal in the 4×100 medley relay. She skipped World Championships in 2017 citing a post-Olympics lack of motivation.


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Weird how she has so little top end speed (relative to her 100 time)


shes swimming mixed medley relay later, so maybe saving some energy for that


The nations with smaller squads will be managing their programmes and saving athletes like Atherton for relays/later events rather than worrying about the 50s. Australia only enters swimmers in non-Olympic 50s if they have made the team in an actual Olympic event. And this meet we didn’t really select any extras to cover relay reserve duties – especially considering two new events (though only one will be an Olympic event). I do hope the AUS selectors consider this a bit more seriously in the future to allow for unexpected things such as a Shayna Jack late withdrawal or possible illness to a swimmer (eg McKeon).

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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