Cate Campbell: 50.91 The Fastest Four-Lap Free In History, WR Down To SW12.12

Cate Campbell [Photo: Arena]

Time-trial conditions, clear water, no pressure: a good moment to take down a world record that belonged to the rubber-band days of shiny suits (barring the shadow it cast over the achievement of Emma McKeon in a 200m race that produced a fine Commonwealth record). 50.91: Cate Campbell, before she swam down in 2:18 by 200m. SW12.12 is the key to whether the time will stand as a world record.

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Time-trial conditions, clear water, no pressure: a good moment to take down a world record that belonged to the rubber-band days of shiny suits (barring the shadow it cast over the achievement of Emma McKeon in a 200m race that produced a fine Commonwealth record). 50.91: Cate Campbell, before she swam down in 2:18 by 200m. SW12.12 is the key to whether the time will stand as a world record.



I am still waiting for the moment when Cate smokes 23.60-23.70 in LCM 50 free.

The girl who flew 24.4 when she was 14 yo should be able to do it…one day.

Craig Lord

Yes, one day: It may take the kind of conditions she had in Sydney today.


There’s certainly an element of “justice” in C1 finally snagging a WR. Some may quibble about it being SCM but it IS an internationally recognised racing format and therefore legitimate.

Whether a LCM will follow, only time will tell as these things “happen when they happen” rather than according to any linear pattern.

Will her 3rd Olympic experience prove “friendlier” to her than her previous two ? Barring illness or injury, she will certainly enter this one from a stronger position than in the past but again; fate is not always a sentimentalist and little sister, Sjostrom plus Kromowidjojo and Halsall over 50 aren’t likely to roll-over for her.


I don’t understand why C1’s swim is shown with no lane and no placing in the results. Is there a reason for this?

Also, thinking about why the record might not be ratified, it makes you realise quite how stupid the rules for claiming a world record are.

SW 12.10 is pretty clear in that only the time of the winner of a race may be submitted for a World Record – except for World Juniors Records. Yet intermediate distances can be used which are unlikely to be swum by the winner of a race unless there is no competition and 12.13 requires the swimmer only to finish the race to have their intermediate time count. I have never understood this.

And while I am at it, what is the real reason for mixed relay lead offs being unable to claim world records? I think the idea was that the women could then be paced or get drafting by someone faster? Yet World Junior Records can be set in races with senior swimmers who could be faster and afford the same benefits. How is that consistent?

All I can say is that it is a good job C1 wasn’t in the lane next to Emma Mckeon or some wise spark would say McKeon was getting drafting and her time shouldn’t count. Of course they could still claim she was paced which would be just as much rubbish as Phelps pacing Trickett.

Craig Lord

Quite so Linny – the rules need translating to English and common sense in some cases… the mixed relays things is because there is a conflict with other rules that do not allow men and women to race together in solo events and so the same is applied to any race in which one gender can set a one-gender world record. It is not fully clarified nor singularly stated.
On the Aussie time sheet, yes, a bit odd: I think the x is there to represent ‘time trial’ to indicate that the rule has been observed but that should not prevent the 200m swim being registered as 10th in the normal way… she swam the whole race and had to do so to make sure the 100m time counts. It should count, she did it in full championship conditions (and optimum conditions for a time trial) – as we can all see.

Lennart van Haaften

Didn’t Campbell and McKeon also break the Oceania records?

I like the 25 meter split times a lot, hopefully we will see them published more often. I wish FINA would occasionally hold 25 meter races at a World Cup meet or elsewhere for world best times.

Craig Lord

Careful what you wish for, Lennart – remember, these are people who will add and add and add, like maniacs on a bolt-on diet 🙂 Don’t mention the word obstacle too close to race; they’ll be asking the swimmers to fetch floating sticks bearing the name of the latest sponsor backing the 1st-class flights etc etc.
Oceania records they were but I never heard an Australian say ‘I set an Oceania record’ or even think in such terms.

Robert Traynor

Well done, Cate! Well done!

And well done to you, Mr. Lord, for the sterling reportage. You even tossed in a video clip of the occasion to brighten my Sunday morning.

Personal Best

I realise the short course WRs may not be as ‘strong’ (maybe not as competitive given the relative importance of SC) as the long course ones, however this is a good indication of the form that C1 is in.
And a good indication of her determination and confidence.

Even entering the 200m is some indication of her training – working on her back end speed/endurance, given the competition from her sis and Sjostrom, who seem to have a strong second half.


@Personal Best. I said it before and am ready to repeat it again. It can be very misleading to use SC results as an indicator of possible LCM performance. These two athletic exercises look identical but they are very different and share one thing only – water. The similarity between these two sport events are practically the same as between standing and traditional high jump. It is still jumps but require completely different technique and abilities.
I counted number of strokes made by Sjostrom during her world record 200 SCM race and her best performance in LCM. The difference is more than 30%. So weak arm muscles have much more job to do and that changes everything.
Take seriously Campbell’s joke about 101m LCM distance. As an elite sprinter she is perfect with her stroke but at the end of the race her muscles are completely out of fuel and her respiratory system is functioning next to the limit unable to supply weak arm muscles with necessary amount of oxygen and waste removing system cannot keep up with such pace.
At SC we have completely different distribution of load between body muscles.
Don’t repeat same mistake that conversion utilities do – converting Franklin’s 1:39 at 200 SCY into something below 1:52 LCM. Not even close for the swimmer who’s endurance is not the best. In this regard I am surprised of Sjostrom who is at the same level of uniqueness as Ledecky is if not even more.
It is very nice to see SC world record broken. Does it say anything? I don’t know unless some swimming expert confirms that previous standards were of high quality. And even after that the only thing we can say is that Campbell is very good in both Short and Long courses.

Craig Lord

Indeed, Yozhik; many are good in both pools, as one would expect in the elite pool, but extrapolating s/c reality to l/c prediction is a precarious journey.

Personal Best

I wasn’t comparing the two – rather saying that SC may be less competitive than LC in terms of elite performances and top level racing (due to most swimmer’s focus on the meets that matter), however, given that, Campbell’s WR is still impressive.

Craig Lord

Yes, very impressive, PB.


Some people find it impressive, some like me just don’t really care. I don’t insist that the 50m pool is the only form how people should compete in their ability to move in the water. I also don’t understand why some probably “very smart” person decided long time ago that swimming distances have to mimic T&F racing regardless the fact that the environment is completely different. I welcome 200m or so race, the shortest distance where in average the sprinter’s ability to release tremendous power during short period of time is not a decisive factor any more. But I don’t understand why we need 400 or 800 races, because they do not appeal to any special human abilities like it happens on running track. But it just happened that it is how swimming competition has been designed for many years and I would prefer to stick with this historical tradition. And it is the only my reasoning.
I understand the budget concern to build shorter pools in schools and colleges. And it is perfect for slow speed competition. But when a first class swimmer makes a few strokes only to get from wall to wall in 10 seconds swimming more than a half of distance underwater, then I don’t really get much excited. To me it is like elite runners will compete in our community park trail that is a circle with about 50-60m in diameter to see who better deals with curves.
For some unclear to me reason the 25m pool swimming competition has its audience, fans and sponsors who get impressed with such racing. So let it be.



if you think SCM is too short, you must not have seen any NCAA swimming, despite living in the USA.


Aswimfan, it is hard not to see them. They are everywhere – at schools, at park districts, at health clubs. It is convenient and perfect for the swimmer like me. I can swim from wall to wall without breathing and pretend to be Sarah Sjostrom 🙂 It is also very suitable for the competition at junior varsity level. I attend such meets with pleasure – it is very exciting, unpredictable and cheap. But you missed my point. There should be some balance between speed and the length of the pool. That’s why I don’t like SC at elite level. And what is so special with number 25? Why not 33.437 for example or 18. With the later case swimming rules will be very simple, because there will be no differences between strokes. But it is my taste and as you’ve probably noticed already it can be very weird sometimes 😀

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