The Making Of James Wilby, World’s 3rd Fastest 100 Breaststroker Ever


While competing in the men’s 100m breaststroke on night 2 of the 2018 European Championships, emerging British athlete James Wilby became the 3rd fastest performer ever in the event. Already a Commonwealth Games champion in the 200m distance, Wilby has been making giant strides in the shorter distance to rise up the ranks not only within British swimming, but also among the elite competition worldwide.

Wilby, who trains under Coach Dave Hemmings at National Centre Loughborough, kicked off his most recent championship season with a 100m breast personal best of 59.99 while competing in prelims at December’s Swim England National Winter Championships. He went on to knock that down to 59.95 in that meet’s final to win gold and slip under the 59.98 Commonwealth Games consideration time.

Flash forward to the Gold Coast and Wilby wound up lowering his PB even further in prelims to 59.80, followed by 59.69 in semi’s to finally another big drop to 59.43 in the finals to take silver behind teammate and world record holder Adam Peaty and head of South African Olympian Cameron van der Burgh.

Carrying that 59.43 career-fastest into Glasgow, Wilby established himself as a major 100m breast player by delving into even lower 59 point territory and claiming the 2nd seed in 59.12. He bumped that up slightly to 59.23 to maintain his 2nd seed behind Peaty after the semi-finals, but had an even more head-turning swim in store come the final.

With Peaty running away with the race in what would wind up being a 57.00 World Record, Wilby smashed a globe-rocking swim of his own by taking silver in 58.64**. That annihilated his 59.12 previous personal best from just this meet and now positions the Brit as the 4th fastest performer in history, only behind the aforementioned Peaty and van der Burgh, and Australia’s Brenton Rickard.


57.00 Adam Peaty GBR 2018 European Champs 8/4/2018 Glasgow
58.46 Cameron van der Burgh RSA 2012 Olympic Games 7/28/2012 London
58.58 Brenton Rickard AUS 2009 World Champs 7/27/2009 Rome
58.64 Hugues Duboscq FRA 2009 World Champs 7/27/2009 Rome
58.64 Kevin Cordes USA 7/23/2017 Budapest

On the season, Wilby now ranks as #2 in the world.

2017-2018 LCM MEN 100 BREAST

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**NOTE – LEN released a statement post-racing that a timing error caused .10 to be deducted from 6 races on day 2 of the European Championships. As such, Wilby’s time was adjusted from the originally reported 58.54 to 58.64.

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I like James Wilby and the fact that he’s providing some competition for Peary back home could only be a good thing for both swimmers


Been a very long road for James Wilby. He looked to have great potential in 2014 and was improving rapidly – Then he spent 2015 and 2016 suffering with illness. I thought he’d hung up his goggles for a while. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.


He could have another breakout swim in the 200m based on that form ..

About Loretta Race

Loretta 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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