With British Swimming having released its national record progressions recently, we reviewed how the sport has kicked into major gear the past fear years for the nation. Yesterday we considered the impact of the likes of Adam Peaty, James Guy and Ben Proud on the men’s side, but a review of the women’s squad reveals some world-class talent bubbling beneath the surface.
As with the men, British women saw a national record siege take place in the 2013/2014 time frame, with the latter year especially taking a beating. New national marks were set across 7 events over the course of 2014, including the 50 free, 50 breast, 100 breast, 200 breast, 50 fly, 50 back and 200 IM. Since then, however, just 3 events have seen their national record go down both in 2016 and thus far this year.
Now-retired sprinter Fran Halsall appears most frequently on the list of current British national records, claiming 3 to her name. She holds the 100 free mark of 52.87 from 2009, the 50 free time of 23.96 from 2014 and the 50 fly record of 25.20 from 2014. In the 50m butterfly event alone, Halsall produced 9 iterations of the standard, stemming from a 26.74 in 2007 to the 25.20 clocked in 2014 for the current record.
Beyond Halsall, holding 2 national records apiece are Joanne Jackson, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Ellen Gandy and Gemma Spofforth, of whom just O’Connor is still competing. O’Connor’s record comes in the 100m breaststroke and 200m IM events, the latter of which she earned en route to silver at the 2016 Olympic Games.
2 of the 3 national marks that fell so far in 2017 are attributed to breaststroke events, with Imogen Clark clocking a new 50m mark of 30.21 at the National Championships this past April. At that same meet, Jocelyn Ulyett had a breakthrough swim in the 200m breast, touching in 2:22.08 for a new NR. A few months later in Budapest, Georgia Davies fired off a 50m backstroke time of 27.49 to write herself into the record books.
Looking through the women’s long course records, the supersuit era remains more pronounced as compared to the men’s, with 7 women’s national records from 2009 still clinging to life. The men had just 4 in the 50m/100m backstroke, 800m freestyle and 200m butterfly, whereas the women’s never-say-die marks remain as follows:
- 100 freestyle, Fran Halsall, 52.87, 2009
- 200 freestyle, Joanne Jackson, 1:55.54, 2009
- 400 freestyle, Joanne Jackson, 4:00.60, 2009
- 200 butterfly, Ellen Gandy, 2:04.83, 2009
- 100 backstroke, Gemma Spofforth, 58.12, 2009
- 200 backstroke, Gemma Spofforth, 2:06.66, 2009
- 400 IM, Hannah Miley, 4:31.33, 2009
Based on British women’s performances over recent years, a few of these records seem primed to fall, while others remain untouchable. In the women’s 200m backstroke, for instance, Elizabeth Simmonds came close to cracking the 2:06.66 time in 2010 with a mark of 2:06.79, however, the most recent fastest time in the nation was nearly 3 seconds slower via Rosie Rudin‘s performance of 2:09.55 this year.
The same type of situation holds true for Miley’s 400m IM. Although Aimee Willmott was in record-breaking territory with her 4:33.01 from 2014, the fastest time this year was Abbie Wood‘s mark of 4:37.25. Rudin appears on the all-time ranking in this event as well, with her 4:38.94 time from this year.
In the women’s 200m butterfly, Ellen Gandy set the bar high with her supersuit time of 2:04.83, with only Jemma Lowe approaching the standard with her time of 2:05.36 from 2011. This year, Charlotte Atkinson showed promise with her title-winning effort of 2:07.06 at British Nationals, while Alys Thomas and European Junior Champion Emily Large are also in the 2:07/2:08 range.
If two-time Olympic silver medalist in Rio, Jazz Carlin, can keep to form, she has proven capable of striking down Jackon’s 4:00.79 400m free mark from 2009. Carlin’s fastest of 4:01.23 is less than a second away and the veteran has committed to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
O’Connor also has a shot of the 200m freestyle national record, having come within .2 of the 1:55.54 mark with her outing of 1:55.82 from 2014. However, she has yet to swim the event post-Rio.