Very few records of any significance survived the onslaught of the rubber suits that that dominated the swimming scene during 2008 and 2009. Only two swimmers (Kate Ziegler and Grant Hackett) have world records that date from 2007 or earlier.
That is why it is so utterly shocking to read about Hamdan Bayusuf of Mombasa Academy in Mombasa Kenya, who has broken the 43-year old 200 back Age Group Kenyan-Open record at the Kenyan Open National Age Group Championships earlier this week. In the ever-evolving sport of swimming, it’s rare for a record to last even a decade. But 43 years is inconceivable. The only records that old are in events like the 220 yard freestyle, which no longer exist!
This is infinitely truer in the stroke of backstroke, where in 1967 flipturns weren’t even allowed. In 1967, when the old record was last set, there wasn’t even an official FINA world record kept in the race. The 1967 world record holder in the 100 back wouldn’t even qualify for today’s Olympic Games. It’s mindboggling how old that record is.
The original mark was held by a “P. Reynolds,” an Australian national swimming in Kenya. As this record is an “open-record,” it can be swum by a person of any nationality, so long as it is swum on Kenyan soil. This even includes withstanding the Dunford brothers, who are without a doubt the most successful and recognizable faces in Kenyan swimming.
The accounts of the record are fairly fuzzy, so it’s not clear if this was simply an Age Group record or an overall record, though it appears most likely to be an age group mark. Swimming in Kenya is growing at a rapid pace, thanks in no small part to the fame of Jason Dunford who recently took gold in the 50 fly at the Commonwealth Games. The federation is slowly, but surely, climbing out of the hole left by a major financial scandal in 2005, and things are looking bright for the Africans.