World Championships Preview: Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Women’s 50 Breaststroke: 2015 World Championship Preview

  • Day 8, Sun August 9th
  • 2013 World Champion: Yuliya Efimova, RUS – 29.52 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Ruta Meilutyte, LTU – 29.59
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Jessica Hardy, USA – 29.80

The women’s 50m breastroke is an event that has slowly but surely gotten quicker over the last five world championships. At the 2005 world championships in Montreal, it took a 30.89 to win the bronze medal. Eight years later in Barcelona, the bronze medal winning time was 29.80; as we saw over a one second drop in just eight years, which is a significant amount of time over just 50 meters. Another testament to how fast the female breastrokers have gotten shows in comparing the results from the 2009 and 2013 world championships. The 2009 championships was an incredible meet, with mind-boggling performances and world records happening every session. Many of the world records set at that meet still stand today and will most likely continue to stand for many years. However, the women’s 50 breastroke is one event that has gotten significantly faster since 2009. Yuliya Efimova had a world record performance to win those 2009 championships in 30.09. At the 2013 championships, we saw over half a second improvement with 29.52 being the winning time. Seeing such a large drop since the high tech suits aided so many record performances shows just how talented these top female breastrokers have become.

2014-2015 LCM Women 50 Breast

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The event will remain very fast, but the 2013 field posted incredible times that the field this year will have difficulty matching. That being said, it will still most likely take a sub-30 second performance to medal, something that was unheard of just ten years ago. 

Yuliya Efimova has the most impressive resume of anyone in the field in the 50m breastroke. She is the two-time world champion (2009 & 2013) and was the runner up in 2011. She is the former long course world record holder and is currently the short course world record holder. With a personal best of 29.52, she is the second fastest women in history, and in 2013 she beat the fastest in history, Ruta Meilutyte, head to head for the world title. Efimova has seen success over all breastroke distances, but has had the most world championship success in the 50m and will look to make it three titles in four years this summer.

Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania is the biggest female breastroke star in the world, and became world renowned after her upset win at the Olympics three years ago. She broke the world record in this event at the 2013 championships in the semi-finals, only to lose to Efimova in the final. That record still stands today, and she has proven she is the women to beat this year after winning the 2014 short course title as well as the European title, and has sat atop the world rankings the last three years. Despite the Lithuanians recent dominance, Efimova has a wealth of experience earned throughout a long career, and being on her home soil I think she’ll triumph over Meilutyte in the final, just as she did two years ago.

Alia Atkinson of Jamaica has had some top international finishes in the 50 breast over the last few years. She has come away with silver at the last two short course world championships in 2012 and 2014, and won silver at the Commonwealth Games last summer. She had a disappointing world championship in 2013 missing the final, and will look to redeem herself in Kazan. She has been ranked 3rd in the world for both 2014 and 2015, and will look to earn the first long course world championship medal of her career.

Jessica Hardy was the first female swimmer ever to break the elusive 30-second barrier in the 50 breastroke. She is a four-time world championship medalist in the event, with titles coming in 2007 and 2011. Not only has she won a medal at every world championships she’s competed in, she has broken the short course world record five times and the long course record twice (both done in 2009 after not competing at the world championships, which would have likely been another gold medal for her). Hardy will look to keep her medal streak in the event alive this summer, but with such fierce competition at the top, the streak is at risk. Hardy is not as dominant as she once was, as she is now one of the more senior swimmers in the field. She will battle with the likes of Meilutyte, Efimova and Atkinson for a spot on the medal stand.

Jennie Johansson has been a consistent performer for Sweden over the last number of years. She was 5th at the 2013 world championships, 2nd at the 2014 European championships and then another 5th place at the 2014 short course world championships. Keeping with the trend, Johansson has been ranked 5th in each of the last two years. This summer she will look to have another strong international showing, with 5th place looking like a very likely spot for her to land once again.

After making the final at the 2013 world championships, Moniek Nijhuis showed improvement in 2014 earning bronze at both the European and short course world championships. The Dutch breastroker is ranked even higher this year than she was last year, as she currently sits 6th best in the world with a time of 30.65. Nijhuis is a good bet to final in Kazan and will look to improve upon her 7th place finish in Barcelona.

Ukrainian Mariia Liver finished in arguably the worst place you can finish in a swimming competition, 9th, just missing the final at the 2013 world championships in the 50 breast. Since then, she has had strong showings including a 4th place finish at the 2014 European championships and a world ranking of 7th for 2015. Liver will look to put the disappointment of missing the final two years ago behind her, and make the top-8 this time around.

Rikke Pedersen of Denmark has seen the majority of her success come in the longer breastroke disciplines, the 100m and especially the 200m. However, breastroke being such a technical stroke, the fastest 200 swimmers can still fight for top places in the 50 simply because of their technical ability. Case in point, American Rebecca Soni was viewed as primarily a 200m breastroker, but still managed to earn two world championship medals in the 50. Pedersen finished 6th at the 2013 championships, and if she can put together a similar performance in Kazan, she has a good shot at making the final.

For a darkhorse selection, Irish breastroker Fiona Doyle is someone who has been putting in consistent and impressive results. A dominant swimmer on the Canadian university swimming scene, Doyle is ranked 17th in the world this year and if she can make a slight improvement, she could make a surprise championship final in Kazan.

Others to watch for in this event include Dorothea Brandt of Germany, Petra Chocova of the Czech Republic, Martina Carraro of Italy and American Micah Lawrence.


  1. Yuliya Efimova, RUS                   29.57
  2. Ruta Meilutyte, LTU                   29.60
  3. Alia Atkinson, JAM                      29.91
  4. Jessica Hardy, USA                      29.97
  5. Jennie Johansson, SWE              30.36
  6. Moniek Nijhuis, NED                  30.51
  7. Mariia Liver, UKR                        30.60
  8. Rikke Pedersen, DEN                 30.72

Darkhorse: Fiona Doyle, IRL         30.87


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

  • W 100 Free
  • M 200 Back
  • W 200 Breast
  • M 200 Breast
  • M 4×200 Free Relay

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

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8 years ago

1 Efimova
2 Atkinson

Reply to  hswimmer
8 years ago

Atkinson beating Meilutyte in a LC pool? Not in a million years. Meilutyte is far quicker over the water, Atkinson’s turns make her so good in the SC pool, but she isn’t a gold-medal factor in the LC pool for me. Efimova & Meilutyte are far clear of any others.

1. Meilutyte – Rudd gets her peak just right.
2. Efimova
3. Johansson

Reply to  Dee
8 years ago

I have faith in her, I think she can do it… Hardy always gets up for the medals as well in sprints.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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