Sienna Toohey, 14, Swims 1:08.98 100 Breast in Australia, Ranks #2 in Age Group All-Time

2023 School Sports Australia Swimming Championships

  • August 21-29, 2023
  • SOPAC Pool, Sydney, Australia
  • Long Course Meters (50m), Prelims/Finals
    • Age Group Events
  • Meet Central/Results

Australia was the dominant team of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, but a glaring weakness on both the men’s and women’s sides was the noticeable lack of sprint breaststrokers.

But in a country like Australia, one never has to look far down the pipeline to see rising talent, and a new face emerged last week at the 2023 School Sports Australia Swimming Championships. There, 14-year-old Sienna Toohey from the Albury Amateur Swim Club in New South Wales won the girls’ 14-year-olds race in 1:08.98.

That’s a huge breakthrough for her: her previous best time, done at April’s Australian Age Championships, was 1:10.28. Even that swim was more than a second clear of the next-best time in her career.

While the time is not enough to dislodge Abbey Harkin from the slot on the senior relay (1:07.07 split at Worlds), it would have placed the young swimmer 4th at the World Championship Trials in June. Australia sent only one woman in the 100 breaststroke to Worlds: Harkin.

Toohey is now 2nd all-time in Australia among 14-year-olds, behind only Leisel Jones, who in 2000 swam 1:08.30, a year in which she would go on to win Olympic silver in front of a home crowd in Sydney.

Toohey is part of a pair of young talents the country has rising through the ranks, along with Griffith Uni’s Hayley Mackinder, who was 5th at Worlds Trials in 1:09.49.

Things are not necessarily as dire as they seem for Australia in this group, though, depending on how the country’s two regulars return from injury. Jenna Strauch (knee injury) and Chelsea Hodges (hip surgery), on full form, are the front-runners for the second leg of the Australian medleys.

Toohey also won the 50 breast (32.22), finished 4th in the 100 free (59.51), and won the 200 breast (2:33.37) at the meet.

Other Highlights:

  • 13-year old Annika Silvester from Queensland won the girls’ 50 fly in 28.76, leaving her just outside of the all-time Australian top 10 at her age. She also swam 1:04.01 to win the 100 fly.
  • 13-year-old Avery Koh won the 100 breaststroke in 1:14.69 and the 50 breaststroke in 33.97. That time in the 50 left her within tenths of Australia’s all-time top 10 for the age group.
  • 13-year-old Koa Stotz swam 31.60 to win the boys’ 50 breaststroke for his age group. That ties him with Patrick Walsh (2013) for 6th-best all-time in the age group behind Oscar Kolenbet‘s National Age Record from March (31.21). His previous best was 31.92 from May.
  • 14-year-olds Christopher Montana and Oscar Kolenbet moved up the all-time rankings in the boys’ 50 breaststroke with a 1-2 finish in 30.64 and 30.66, respectively. Montana now ranks 5th all-time, and Kolenbet, the National Record holder in the event for 13-year-olds, ranks 6th all-time. Nicholas Stoupas from Cranbrook set the record last year in 29.84, the only 14-year-old under 30 seconds. Zac Stubblety-Cook, a former World Record holder over 200 meters, is the notable name above them in rank #2. He swam 30.40 in 2013.
  • 17-year-old Koby Bujak-Upton knocked a few tenths off his best to win the boys’ 17-19 100 free in 50.57.
  • 12-year-old Mya Harris from Queensland broke the SSA Record in the 200 free, swimming 2:09.72. That took almost four seconds off her previous best time of 2:13.42 from March, which in turn knocked almost three seconds off her best time from 2022. In total, she has dropped 6.5 seconds this year.

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Breaststroke Observer
8 months ago

Looking northward (waaaaay North) to the possibilities for the future of women’s breaststroke, just turned 13 yr old Alexandra Leno swam 33.97, 1:14.25 and 2:38.55 respectively at Canadian Championships in early August, winning the 200 event placing 3rd in the 100 and 2nd in the 50. As a 12-year old she qualified for Canadian Trials in April of this year.

Nada de nada
Reply to  Breaststroke Observer
8 months ago

You must be a family member. Good campaign 😉

Troyy
8 months ago

Toohey looks like she has another 6+ months as a 14 yo so Leisel Jones’ age record doesn’t seem out of reach.

Southerly Buster
8 months ago

Great news. Some future breaststroke talent coming through. I note that one of Australia’s young breaststrokers is named Tilly King. That could make it interesting for race callers in a few years time!

Southerly Buster
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

I hope to see all three of them in the same race one day!

Hswimmer
8 months ago

They need a breaststroker for their medley relay. Maybe she will be ready next summer, if not LA.

Jimmyswim
Reply to  Hswimmer
8 months ago

LA perhaps. Next year? I don’t see it. Hodges has been 1:05 high and Strauch has been 1:06 low for flat starts. Even if neither of them hit their PBs it seems unlikely Toohey will drop 2.5 seconds in 9 months. If she somehow pulled off a 1:05 at 15 then she’s entering Ruta territory.

M d e
Reply to  Jimmyswim
8 months ago

teenage girls progression is super volatile.

she could be 1:05 next year or 1:10 and it wouldn’t be put heard of.

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  M d e
8 months ago

Yup

Prime examples:

Kyoko Iwasaki, Rebecca Brown, Anita Nall.

That’s why female breastrokers like Leisel Jones is rare and amazing, she was able to carry on from brilliant 14/15 yo to brilliant mid 20s.

Jimmyswim
Reply to  M d e
8 months ago

Well hey, I hope I’m wrong! If Australia somehow gets a 1:05 flat start 15 year old who continues to improve we’ll be unstoppable.

I sometimes wonder about how much just one great international swimmer could help. Like especially thinking about how the “Commonwealth” could team up. Literally just allow Australia to adopt one Commonwealth superstar and it could turn things around.

If Australia got peak Peaty, that would easily give us the 100 breast, Mixed Medley and Men’s medley golds in Paris. Give us Schoenmaker and we could potentially get the 100/200 breast double and would be heavy favourites for women’s medley.

Ah, if only we had a good sprint breast leg!

Majer99
8 months ago

Great swim! There are a number of junior girls with high potential in the breastroke that will be of interest in the next few years.

Side note the ages at these championships are based on Dec 31 so could be some examples where actual age at the event is different to age shown e.g. Koa Stotz raced as a 12 year old the week before at the Queensland SC champs.

Troyy
Reply to  Majer99
8 months ago

Montana also appears to be only 13 so he broke Kolenbet’s age record in the 50 and #2 all time in the 100 behind ZSC.

RobertSwims
Reply to  Braden Keith
8 months ago

Christopher Montana is still only 13 at late 2023. He will debut at Australian Age in 2024. He hails from the strong Trinity Grammar Club, along with 16 year old Breaststroke champ Jonathan Nam. They also have Bella Grant currently in Israel for World Juniors.

SwimBetterHQ
Reply to  RobertSwims
8 months ago

They are going great at the moment. But very hard place to get into. Also have Grayson Doig, Caleb Dryer, Sterling Tuxford, Joshua Jeung plus the rest. All national champions. They are certainly going places.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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