The Incredible Consistency of Australian Swimmers In Women’s 100 Freestyle

Australia’s dominance in the women’s 100 freestyle and 400 free relay is nothing new.

The Aussies are the reigning Olympic and world champions in the 400 free relay, having reset the world record numerous times in recent years, and have both the reigning Olympic (Emma McKeon) and world (Mollie O’Callaghan) champions in the 100 freestyle.

Last week, as has become the norm, the result of the women’s 100 free during the Australian World Championship Trials in Melbourne was impressive. Three swimmers (O’Callaghan, McKeon and Shayna Jack) cracked the 53-second barrier.

In 2023, every other country in the world combined has three swimmers sub-53.

Swimming Stats’ Instagram page has published the list of countries with the most sub-53 swimmers since 2010, that is, since the polyurethane super-suits were banned. Australia lead the pack easily with seven swimmers, the same as the next two countries combined (the United States and the Netherlands).

No wonder, the United States and Netherlands were the only countries to beat the Australians in the 400 free relay in a major meet since 2010 (long course meters).

Over the last six World Aquatics Championships, Australian teams won the event on three occasions, the U.S. twice (2013 and 2017), and the Dutch once in 2011. At the Olympic Games, Australia has demolished their opponents in the last three editions (2012, 2016 and 2021).

After the suit ban, the first woman to break the 53-second barrier was the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo in 2012. In 2013, Australian Cate Campbell won the World Championships in a time of 52.33, and since then, in every year, Australians have been churning out sub-53 swims, something no country has come close to achieving.

For example, the U.S. has only had at least one swimmer venture into the 52s in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 during that timeframe.

Sub-53 swimmers In Women’s 100 Freestyle

Since 2010

Swimmer Country Best Time Year
Sarah Sjostrom SWE 51.71 2017
Emma McKeon AUS 51.96 2021
Cate Campbell AUS 52.03 2018
Simone Manuel USA 52.04 2019
Bronte Campbell AUS 52.27 2018
Siobhan Haughey HKG 52.27 2021
Mollie O’Callaghan AUS 52.48 2023
Penny Oleksiak CAN 52.59 2021
Mallory Comerford USA 52.59 2017
Shayna Jack AUS 52.60 2022
Pernille Blume DEN 52.69 2017
Femke Heemskerk NED 52.69 2015
Taylor Ruck CAN 52.72 2018
Charlotte Bonnet FRA 52.74 2018
Anna Hopkin GBR 52.75 2021
Ranomi Kromowidjojo NED 52.75 2012
Madison Wilson AUS 52.76 2021
Rikako Ikee JPN 52.79 2018
Yufei Zhang CHN 52.90 2020
Meg Harris AUS 52.92 2021
Torri Huske USA 52.92 2022
Marrit Steenbergen NED 52.98 2023
Abbey Weitzeil USA 52.99 2021

In addition to current Olympic champion McKeon and current world champion O’Callaghan, Cate Campbell broke the world record in 2016 to go along with her world title in 2013, while her sister Bronte Campbell was the world champion in 2015. And it seems that Australia’s hegemony in the 100 free and the 4×100 free is far from over.

Trivia: The first female swimmer in history to crack the 53-second barrier, as it couldn’t be otherwise, was an Australian swimmer. Libby Trickett clocked 52.99 at the 2007 Duel in The Pool in Sydney. However, that was never recognized as a world record, as it was set leading off the 4×100 freestyle mixed relay.

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2 months ago

It will be a huge disappointment if such a huge wave of sprinting talents won’t produce a world record holder. “52” was exotic club a decade ago. Not any more.

Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

Classic Yozhik.

“Wow this is so impressive that anything less than a WR is failure”.

You are the Simone Biles of mental gymnastics.

Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

It’s still exotic in some countries.

Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

Only 2 women have broken into the ’51’, Sjostroem in a relay lead where Sweden finished 5th.
McKeon in the Olympic final to win Gold medal.

Hooked on Chlorine
Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

Won’t produce a world record holder?

You mean they may intentionally forgo a world record?

‘”52″ was exotic club a decade ago.’

This is not the thread, nor the website, to be discussing strip joints.

Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

Cate Campbell held the 100m Freestyle WR before Sjostrom

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Yozhik
2 months ago

are you the person who commented under the ig post, saying that this stat is insignificant?

2 months ago

Crazy that a 52.7 would not get you an individual swim for AUS at the 2023WCs!!!

Last edited 2 months ago by torchbearer
3 months ago

Both C1 and C2 plan to compete for relays spots in 2024.Clearly,they need to be back in 52 range to make the team.
Imagine the 100m Final at next years 2024 Australian Trials


In the 2021 Olympic Trials, the top 4 were in 52s,Bronte at 53.0 and a young MOC at 53.2.

Miss M
Reply to  Dan_tm
2 months ago

Crazy fast! Some very good swimmers are not making it out of heats next year. In addition to Wunsch who has made the step up, we’ve got other youngsters like Casey, Jansen and DeLutis who are all knocking on the door.

Reply to  Miss M
2 months ago

that quartet could definitely be close to the wjr at junior worlds this year if everyone swims at their best

Ruck (53.63) – Wunsch (54.05)
Oleksiak (53.70) – Jansen (53.76 split at jr pan pacs)
Smith (54.65) – Casey (PB is a 54.30)
Sanchez (54.21) – DeLutiis (54.21 split at age nationals)

Last edited 2 months ago by flicker
Reply to  Dan_tm
2 months ago

I still don’t quite think a 52 will be required for top 6, but I can see a 53.1 missing out

3 months ago

Add in Brittany Elmslie,Mel Schlanger and Alicia Coutts ,who were not 52 swimmers but contributed to relay WRs in the 2010s.

Nick the biased Aissie
3 months ago

Don’t forget 2004 where it all really started with Alice, Libby, Petria and Jody.
Jodie Henry had one of the most amazing final legs ever to come from behind an claim gold.

3 months ago

And how many times have each of these Australian swimmers broken 53? I’m unsure. Anyone know?

Reply to  Joel
3 months ago

A quick count of FINA records says:

C Campbell – 51
McKeon – 18
B Campbell – 9
MOC – 8
Jack – 4
Lenton/Trickett – 3
Wilson – 2
Harris – 1

Total – 96

Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Thanks so much Sub13.
51 times! Crazy stuff.
And 96 total. That needs to be in the article.
What about Sjostrom?

Reply to  Joel
3 months ago

FINA says Sjostrom has 37

Ceccon - Kamminga - Milak - Popovici
Reply to  Joel
3 months ago

Cate Campbell would have had a lot more had she led relays like Dressel.


But she was even more valuable as an anchor. Manuel on the other hand probably should have been leading off.

Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Count using the nuoto rankings is usually a bit higher (adjusted for trials swims that aren’t added yet):

55 Campbell, Cate
19 McKeon, Emma
10 Campbell, Bronte
8 Lenton Trickett, Lisbeth
8 O’Callaghan, Mollie
4 Jack, Shayna
2 Wilson, Madison
1 Harris, Meg


37 Sjoestroem, Sarah
8 Oleksiak, Penny
6 Manuel, Simone A.
6 Haughey, Siobhan
6 Comerford, Mallory E.
6 Blume, Pernille
5 Steffen, Britta
4 Heemskerk, Femke
3 Ruck, Taylor M.
2 Zhang, Yufei
2 Kromowidjojo, Ranomi
2 Huske, Torri
2 Hopkin, Anna
1 Weitzeil, Abbey R.
1 Ikee, Rikako
1 Halsall, Francesca
1 Bonnet, Charlotte

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Interesting. I wonder why there is such a huge discrepancy for Libby? 3 vs 8

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

fina rankings has 4 entries for her. the others are missing because the rankings don’t have any national championship results pre 2011, with WRs being the sole exception. but 2 of the missing times were mixed relay leadoffs against men, and probably shouldn’t count in this discussion

Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

The 52s reported from WA ranking should be 4 and of the other 4 that nuoto includes 2 are mixed relays and 2 are just missed by WA.

World Aquatics rankings:

52.62 LENTON, Libby 2009-07-26 13th FINA World Championships 2009
52.84 LENTON, Libby 2009-07-30 13th FINA World Championships 2009
52.88 LENTON, Libby 2008-03-27 Australian National Championships (50m)
52.93 LENTON, Libby 2009-07-31 13th FINA World Championships 2009

Other four from nuoto:

153 52.89 934 Lenton Trickett, Lisbeth  1985-01-28 24.2 AUS 2009-05-09 2009 Duel in the Pool
172 52.95 931 Lenton Trickett, Lisbeth  1985-01-28 24.2 AUS 2009-05-09 2009 Duel in the Pool
190 52.99 929 Lenton Trickett, Lisbeth  1985-01-28 22.1 AUS 2007-04-03 AUS v USA Sydney
190 52.99 929 Lenton Trickett, Lisbeth  1985-01-28 24.0… Read more »

Springfield's #1 Athlete
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Sub 53 teenage swims:

16: 2 – Oleksiak
17: 2 – 1 Oleksiak, 1 Ruck
18: 9 – 6 MOC, 2 Ruck, 1 Ikee
19: 8 – 2 Sjostrom, 2 MOC (so far), 2 Huske, 1 Halsall, 1 Harris
C1 first went sub 53 at 20.

For MOC to be =5th already is obscene, the next best at her age would be Oleksiak/Ruck with 3.
Mollie could break Cate’s record, I really doubt any other current swimmer could.

C1 does have 12 sub 52 relay splits, including that alien 50.93, that may live for the next generation.
Next best is Heemskerk with 5.

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

So more than half of all sub 53 second swims are by Australians 107 vs 93. If you remove Trickett, Steffen and Halsall (super suit/mixed relay times) from the list it becomes 99 vs 87.

Last edited 2 months ago by Laps
Reply to  Laps
2 months ago

Also Netherlands and USA aren’t the only two countries to defeat Australia since 2010 as Australia finished fifth at 2011 worlds behind Germany (3rd) and China (4th). Definitely the low point in the 20 years since Australia became relevant in this event in 03/04.

Nick the biased Aissie
Reply to  Joel
3 months ago

Cate Campbell has been sub 53 at least 50 times.

Nick the biased Aussie
Reply to  Nick the biased Aissie
2 months ago

Correction, at least 55 times

Reply to  Nick the biased Aissie
2 months ago

Manuel did it just 6 times…but boy, did she made those 6 times count!!!

Last edited 2 months ago by Torchbearer
Reply to  Torchbearer
2 months ago

Some just peak the right time. MacNeil has only been 55 in the 100 fly twice: one got her a WC, the other an Olympic gold.