Mitch Larkin Hits Fastest 200 Back Since Winning 2016 Olympic Silver – 1:54.38


During day 3 prelims at the 2021 Australian Swimming Championships, Mitch Larkin posted a 1:54.38 200 backstroke, marking his quickest performance in the event since 2016 when he won Olympic silver with a 1:53.96. The swim makes Larkin the #2 ranked swimmer in the event globally this season.

2020-2021 LCM Men 200 Back

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Larkin’s swim is second only to Evengy Rylov‘s top-ranked 1:53.23 which he recently swam at the 2021 Russian Olympic Trials, qualify to swim at his second Olympic Games. In 2016, Rylov swam to a bronze medal in the event with a 1:53.97 to Ryan Murphy‘s gold medal-winning 1:53.62 and Mitch Larkin‘s 1:53.96 for silver. Reigning 200 backstroke Olympic champ Ryan Murphy currently sits with a season-best of 1:56.06 from the San Antonio stop of the 2021 Pro Swim Series.

The swim for Larkin is a considerable season-best in the event, improving upon the 1:57.16 that he swam in March. It also gives Larkin a sizeable lead over the rest of the Australian men in the 200 backstroke, the fastest of which being Bradley Woodward with a 1:57.14 in December 2020 at, followed by Ty Hartwell who swam a 1:58.30, also in December.

Following his 1:53.96 performance at Rio, Larkin hadn’t yet gotten back under 1:55 in the event until now. His best post-Rio swim stood at a 1:55.40 which he hit at the 2018 Pan Pac Trials in Adelaide, Australia. Larkin has swum the 200 back at 4 major international meets since 2016 but didn’t go faster than his 1:56.02 finals swim at 2018 Pac Pacs.

Heats Semi-Finals Finals
2017 World Championships 1:58.00 1:59.10
2018 Commonwealth Games 1:57.99 1:56.10
2018 Pan Pacific Championships 1:58.15 1:56.02

Larkin was entered to race the event at World Championships in 2019 but scratched the event in favour of the 200 IM.

It will likely take more than a 1:54 to reach Olympic gold and maybe even to reach the podium but Larkin’s return to the 1:54 range is a positive sign for him in the lead up to the Games. Even more so considering that it was a prelim swim at a meet which is basically serving as prep work for Olympic Trials. Larkin will have a shot to lower his season-best again during the final of the 200 backstroke as he goes in with the top seed by nearly 5 seconds.

Both of Australia’s 2nd and 3rd faster 200 backstrokers this season, Hartwell and Woodward raced in the prelims of the 200 back at the 2021 Australian Championships, earning 3rd seed (1:59.40) and 6th seed (2:00.11), respectively. Filling out the top 6 was Tristan Hollard with a 1:59.17 for 2nd, Thomas Hauck with a 1:56.46 for 4th, and Joshua Edwards-Smith in a 1:59.91 for 5th.

2021 Australian Championships – Men’s 200 Backstroke Prelims

  1. Mitch Larkin – 1:54.38
  2. Tristan Hollard – 1:59.17
  3. Ty Hartwell – 1:59.40
  4. Thomas Hauck – 1:59.46
  5. Joshua Edwards-Smith – 1:59.91
  6. Bradley Woodward – 2:00.11
  7. Se-Bom Lee – 2:01.54
  8. Stuart Swinburn – 2:02.50
  9. Cameron Tysoe – 2:02.65
  10. Nathan Foot – 2:02.11

With Mitch Larkin holding a sizeable lead ahead of the field, it’s likely that the main fight at Australian Olympic Trials in the event will be for silver. There, it will take a top 2 finish and a 1:57.26 to qualify for the team.

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29 days ago

So happy for mitch he is a great lad i think the emiily saga dragged him down but now smooth sailing ahead lets see what he can do in the 200 im

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  kevin
29 days ago

So happy for emily she is a great woman i think the Mitch saga dragged her down but now smooth sailing ahead lets see what she can do in the 200 back.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
29 days ago

White knight longhorn to the rescue

29 days ago

Great time. I don’t know if he was taking it easy in the 200IM later in the session but it was very slow. If he wasn’t holding back much it proves once again it’s not wise to take on the 200BK/ 200IM combination. It’s frustrating they put them so close together on the program. I suspect Larkin will choose the 200IM.

29 days ago

He cruised the 200 IM heat

28 days ago

Looks like we could have the same podium in the 200 back in Tokyo (maybe with the positions shifted around a little bit) if Larkin decides to swim it. 1:54.3 would be enough for bronze given the results from Rio and the last four years, his 200IM is less of a sure shot at a medal right now