Never Too Old To Dream: Barratt Becomes Oldest Aussie Rookie At 29


It’s always inspiring, as well as reassuring ,when an elite-level athlete proves that age is just a number, with Australian swimmer Holly Barratt being the latest example. Competing at the 2017 Australian Swimming Championships this week, Barratt claimed both a silver and gold medal in individual events, securing her spot on her very first World Championships roster, all at the age of 29.

The Rockingham, Western Australia sprinter set out to simply score a best time at this meet, admittedly not considering the possibility she’d win a title, let alone qualify for Budapest. Behind double world champion Emily Seebohm’s new All Comers Record, Barratt held her own in the 100m backstroke, touching in 59.66 to register a new personal best by .3 of a second. That result cleared the stiff Aussie QT of 59.71.

In tonight’s session, Barratt charged to the wall first in the 50m backstroke to earn the first individual national title of her career. 27.60 is what it took for the seasoned racer to take the gold, topping the world rankings in the event in the process.

Reflecting on her incredibly unexpected outcome in Brisbane, Barratt commented after racing, “I definitely wasn’t expecting that result; coming into the meet ranked about sixth, I thought I might be able to jump up to fourth.

“I would have been happy with that, I’m focusing on my times more than anything and I was happy with my time, it was a little PB, but I definitely wasn’t expecting (to make the team) it is very exciting.”

“I know a lot of the girls were not happy with the way they swam last night but I guess it shows anything can happen…and the real bonus for me is I get my Swimmer Team number; that’s exciting,” said Barratt.

Swimming Australia confirmed that Barratt is indeed the oldest rookie to ever have made an Australian Swim team.

Quotes courtesy of Swimming Australia.

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Steve Nolan

That’s super cool! V interested in like, how she’s still swimming?


What do you mean how is she still swimming??? Have you heard of Dara Torres?

Coach John

as far as I know there was only one Dara Torres… not a thousand. it’s quite rare to see someone this age, this level make it to the senior team for the FIRST time (australia of all teams).

I’m very curious as to how she stayed this motivated and in shape from 18-29. that is a long time to go without cracking through. must be an enormous love for the sport and a great support network with her club.


You know what I meant.. 29 isn’t even old anymore in the sport of swimming.

Coach John

I know what you meant and I disagree… 29 is on the older end of the spectrum for a WC qualifier and thus i am very interested in her journey to this point, as is the OP (aussie QT to boot, not even FINA “A”… or whatever they call them nowadays)

here’s a little analysis on olympic ages (probably sacrilege to post a swimmingworld link so I apologize if it is)

Southern Orca

She mentioned a break from the pool in her early 20s returning to more serious training 4 years ago

Southern Orca

In the 50 fly women’s 29 yr old silver 30 yr old bronze

Coach John

there are always outliers…. Dara is a good example, Anthony Ervin (way to go!!!), and also Penny Oleksiak at the opposite end of the spectrum (or a younger Katie Ledecky)

I think the trend in swimming (pool) is we will see older athletes but 29 is definitely on the older end currently but I cant wait for the day where we see people medaling consistently in their late 20’s. imagine the advancements in training and recovery to get to that point.

I think open water swimming we will soon see (3 or 4 olympic cycles) a much larger swing to swimmers staying later and maybe switching over after a pool career.


I don’t know what Holly did 2006 – 2013 but everyone else was out in the mines driving interplanetary sized trucks .

I think Holly ran into her old coach & he said – Why don’t you come back training & she did & made the WUG team & won & went on from there.

E Gamble

This is great but 29 is not old…especially for sprinters. ?


This should have been Will Copelands story too. #Justiceforwill

Aussie crawl

Aussie trained and coached Will.


Yes there was criticism of Magnussens switch to Ravenswood & young coaches etc but it took William from ? to a 48.6 man . It was Blake’s youth & ncaa racing that got him the place in the run off . So close , but he must be proud .


He was a 48.53 at WUG’s in 2009


Jaked.? Still nice to come back & equal time at 29 .

big calves

It’s kind of old to make your first team. Come on.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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