Emily Seebohm Makes History With The First Season Top 10 Of Sub-59sec 100 Backstrokes

Emily Seebohm - by Paul Seiser/SPA Images, courtesy of Arena

Emily Seebohm was already the queen of the sub-59sec 100m backstroke. Today, the Australian placed another gem in her tiara with a 58.72 win in the concluding session of the Singapore round of the World Cup: one more and she will reach 20 career sub-59s, all but one in textile, while today made it 10 this year alone

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Emily Seebohm was already the queen of the sub-59sec 100m backstroke. Today, the Australian placed another gem in her tiara with a 58.72 win in the concluding session of the Singapore round of the World Cup: one more and she will reach 20 career sub-59s, all but one in textile, while today made it 10 this year alone


Janne Lindstrom

A stellar season for Seebohm – solid all year ans showing speed and stamina. Look forward to seeing Seebohm and Franklin on lanes 4 & 5 in Rio


The depth at these meets has really been a bit disgraceful as far as an “World Cup” is concerned. There have also been some really positive swims though.

1. Emily Seebohm – Smashing out super 100 backs and gearing herself in the 200 backstrokes on this tour has been wonderful to watch. Her “Katinka” approach might be what is needed to take the 100 backstroke under 58 seconds next year.

2. Cameron VDB has bounced back from injury and a poor state of mind, to clocking world class times in season. The dangling carrot seems to have motivated him to be number 1 again next year in Rio. He does this while swimming the 200 as well as a form of training.

3. Dan Smith is putting in some solid times, and will hopefully achieve what so many predicted he would have when he was 15 years old.


Roy, it is like a stock market. Three years of steady growth make people to believe that it will last forever. Despite her amazing achievements Ledecky fits very well the statistics of personal best improvements for elite swimmers. If it would be beyond 1% I will joining you considering such a phenomenon a mutation. Your predictions are at the very age of this interval. Please don’t go any further 🙂


Roy if you are so good with foreseeing the future what would be your prediction of Ledecky’s 200m personal best?


Roy, MUST you derail so many threads with digressions about swimmers who are NOT competing at the meet(s) in question ? Katie Ledecky was not competing at these World Cup meets so why bring her into it ?

Furthermore, these end up going nowhere as you remain immune to anyone else’s reasonings as to WHY they differ from your views. The rest of us have been subjected to this on so many previous threads !

All record “runs” must inevitably come to an end. Some “get out while the going’s good” and retire early (prematurely in some people’s mind) generally after a successful Olympics. With others, the run stops but depending on their levels of dominance may still remain the “top dogs” in their events.

Her records WILL, inevitably, be broken. That is how it has historically been. They have said that about Janet Evans records, the East German marks, ….. such like throughout the history of the sport. When ….. we CANNOT know. It may be a decade, it may be longer ….. or someone else will show up from whatever country


Janine, we may see that Lane 4/Lane 5 scenario in Rio …….. but I think that is more likely in the 200.

Franklin has been set a very steep challenge to reach the 100 medals. It’s certainly possible but she realistically needs to get back to her best to be competing for the medals against the likes of Wilson, Nielsen, Fu let alone challenging Seebohm.

Wez, who knows whether the W100BK record may go but Seebohm is certainly building up an aura of dominance in that event. What she may do over 200 is maybe more curious as one is not sure whether she has yet settled on an optimal race pacing.

VDB is certainly now responding in the right manner to the Peaty onslaught. He certainly cannot be ruled out …. or thought “out of the picture”.

Dan Smith’s 2015 has certainly been a positive sign on the AUS men’s side which still looks incredibly shallow in depth & competitiveness. He’s certainly “in play” for an individual 200fs berth and looks a sound bet for a relay berth at worst. However, whether he can make the further drop below 1.46 and into the really internationally competitive ranks has yet to be established.

Craig Lord

Roy, please stick to commenting on what is being written about (and especially when making points you have made a great many times) … diversions tend to annoy the hell out of others. There have been and will be lots of moments to comment on Katie Ledecky. This short article was mostly about the outstanding efforts of Emily Seebohm this season – and none of what is mentioned represents “just a normal swim”, even for Emily: sub-59s represent excellence – and in her case consistent excellence. Thanks

Craig Lord

A sub-59sec swim is not ‘routine’, Roy. It is world-class/excellent… that Emily can clock the time consistently may well give her a greater chance of a big performance on the one big day at the right moment, habit and going through the rounds being a part of success. But it isn’t routine – which is more like the time she might swim at the end of a set of 10x100s in training. Not when testing herself and speed at the world cup with purpose in mind but in the absence of any serious pressure from others.

Craig Lord

Roy, the number of world records is far less relevant than the percentage improvement of the swimmer related to passing of time and her age and the curve of her career; relevant, too, is when it happens – so one extraordinary leap to Olympic gold in odd circumstances may well stand out more than any of KL’s world-record swims, for example. The picture is far more complex and individualised than your answers to others suggest. Not a single one of KL’s world records has come as a surprise to me, extraordinary as her efforts have been. I cannot say the same about others who have posted “only” one world record, as you put it…
It is also about what opportunities and circumstances arise: if you count the world cup s/c mode from the past few years, a few more have taken down quite a few records… Your suggestion that others are ‘struggling’ to take down world records needs pulling up on 2 levels:
1. all world records are a struggle for all concerned in one way or another, that being the nature of the best there’s ever been
2. and point 1 applies just as much to KL as anyone else


You were NOT obligated to reply, Roy. Nobody is under any obligation to post/contribute/reply on any thread. You are just choosing to ignore Craig and blithely continue on with your single minded obsession. That may sound harsh but that is how it comes across.

With regards to Seebohm and her 2015 run of sub59s; this is a level of consistent excellence that has had few parallels in recent years.

Arguably C1 has been pumping out sub53/53lows at almost all times of the year for the past 2 years but that is the nearest that automatically comes to mind. Others have broken records over this period but the sheer volume of consistent “medal class times” is another matter.

Regardless, it would be wrong to see Seebohm as a “lock” for W100BK Gold in Rio as her position is not nearly as impregnable as Ledecky may be in W400/800, USA W4X200 & AUS W4X100. Favourite – certainly.


I rest my case, Roy …. you just continue on and on

The fact is that people said exactly what you’ve said when Salnikov not only broke 15min for 1500 and then a year or so later took it way below. Ditto for Tracey Wickham with her distance WRs in the late 70s then Janet Evans in the late 80’s. Yes, my “terms of reference” go back that far !

NOBODY has perfect “prescience”. We can only make predictions based on the information we currently have “to hand”.

Champions or medallists from this year’s Worlds could get sick, suffer major injuries or have upsets in their personal lives that may compromise/harm or even take away their chances for Rio. No fair-minded person should wish that on anyone but history tells us that every cycle has its share of these.

That is all that I have to say on this matter

Craig Lord

That last point, Roy, speaks to nothing that went before – and is the type of guesswork that may go down well in a pub on a cold night among folk who think they know more than they do about soccer, politics, knitting and much else 🙂 On your other point, I would indeed be surprised to see KL win the 800m free in Rio in 7:59.


I’m not sure what the significance of being consistently under 59 means. Seebohm was faster in London 2012 than during 2015. It’s all about what happens on the big day. 10 sub 59’s, 19 in total. Does this suggest that it’s only a matter of time before a sub 58, or that this is about her limit? Time will tell. She is the best right now in 100 and 200m and maybe next year will be her biggest yet. A gold medal in Rio would do proper justice to her talent.

Craig Lord

Ger, consistency means, if all goes well, no repeat of 2012, when a heats time was the fastest ever in textile (and remains so) and the fastest of the year. The significance of 10 58 pluses in pre-Olympic season is that no-one has ever gone close to that before; the rate of consistency does indeed suggest that the rounds will be a relative breeze compared to the task of many others; and before London, ES was not a consistent 58 swimmer, so a 58.2 must have been, as the images of the day suggest, a bit of a shock – that won’t be the case in Rio. Just how that all that pans out come the hour cannot be seen by any of us until it unfolds but it is likely, assuming all goes well, that she will go to her blocks in the final a confident swimmer in terms of what she herself is capable of doing (the rest she cannot control, though she can affect…)


I can’t but read something untold beyond Roy’s obsessive comments on Ledecky (and on Sun Yang) but I’ll leave it at that. It really is no use feeding this endless cycle.

Seebohm’s consistency in the 100 backstroke reminds me of Magnussen in, I think, 2012-2013 (100 free of course) … he was dropping 47s every time he entered the water, it really was exciting.

Craig Lord

That’s a nice point to make, ThereaLuigi: it should be possible to just enjoy the moment and season for what it is – and 10 sub-59s in one season certainly stands out.


In case of Emily Seebohm we may witness the manifestation of Hegel’s Quality and Quantity Dialectic. 🙂

Stability with excellence is necessary requirement to be qualified as elite athlete.

Just wondering when will we see Emily at 200m freestyle? She was under 2min more than 5 yrs ago and after that no racing. It looks like every body are welcome at this distance. With about same times in 100m free, 100m back and 200m back Missy Franklin became World Champion


Roy, who besides probably Pelligrini can be called natural 200m freestyle racer among those who wants medal at this distance in Rio? Nothing is natural about this distance. As ASF mentioned in another thread we can see everybody here. Sprinters, long distance racers, butterflies, backstrokers, IMers, – everybody but breaststrokers feel it as the matter of Honor to leave their footprints here, trying the luck.
And Pelligrini as well likes a backstroke seemly as much as 200 free.

Craig Lord

Roy: only 1 woman has ever swum 2:04 in textile (MF) and only 3 2:05 in textile (ES and AF included). 12 have swum 2:06 or better, with Kirsty Coventry’s best textile almost a second slower than Katinka Hosszu’s new best just 3 seasons beyond a best of 2:13.50 with a career list topped by 15 times that were all swum this year – now that is remarkable.


Craig I think that Luigi made two nice points. The second one is ” you feed him – he never leaves”. There is the reason why you will not see Roy’s comments about the same point again and again let say at swimswam.com or swimingworldmagazine.com forums. Nobody cares to respond him there. It would be no my objections, Craig if in case of me getting engaged into discussion with Roy of Ledecky’s supernaturality you remove my comments.


Roy you mentioned swimswam.com as one of your source. That’s why I assumed that having always something to say you participate at this forum with your postings.
You made an excellent point about this site. So let’s enjoy journalism of this site but not us being here. Peace.


I will definitely fall off my chair shocked if Ledecky swim 1:51 and 8:01 as Roy predicts.

There are four swimmers I hope will win individual golds in Rio are:
Cate Campbell in 100 free, Magnussen in 100 free, Seebohm in 100m back and Hosszu in 200 IM.

While I believe they are the absolute best in the past four years in their respective events and hold textile WR or WR period, they have not won the individual Olympics gold and I feel that Rio is their last good chance to win Olympics gold.

It will be a shame if they fail to do it, just like Van Almsick, Jenny Tnompson, etc.

Bad Anon

Interesting stats; Seebohm has 3 of the top 10 all time 100 back performances while Missy has 4. Seebohm under 59sec 7 times this season alone while Missy has 6 sub 59s from her entire career. Conclusion; you can count on Franklin to rise when it matters. Franklin’s 4 top 10 performances range from 58.33-58.50. She’ll be thereabouts in Rio. it Will be a Good race

Craig Lord

Bad Anon: I took out the source you referred to to spare their blushes – they are missing several swims. For e.g.: Emily has swum under 59 10 times this season, not the 7 as you cite, but 10, as this article states (which I’m sure you must have spotted given it is in the headline 🙂


The men’s 100fs essentially remains a “crap shoot” with no one currently having any semblance of dominance. Predicting the medallists, let alone the winner, looks problematic. To those touting Magnussen; let’s just see if he CAN make a return from his injury issues. At this point, that remains uncertain.

The women’s 100fs looks to have a much more “contracted” field when it comes to medal contenders with the Campbell sisters & Sjostrom looking to have a gap on the competition. However they are all very close together with regards to times so it could go any way of three. The only possible intruders at this point could be Kramowidjojo (who hasn’t been sub53 for over 2 years) & Heemskerk (who’s yet to deliver internationally in individual events).

Larkin may’ve won 100back gold in Kazan but whilst he clearly has to be seen as a major factor in Rio, he’s hardly in a position of dominance with the likes of Lacourt & Grevers very much thereabouts. TBH, the 200 looks a stronger bet for Larkin given his gap on the field in Kazan.

Given her current level of consistency, Seebohm probably deserves favouritism in the women’s 100back but her’s is still not a position of utter dominance with plenty snapping at her heels.

BA, please do not get the impression that we “furriners” disrespect Missy Franklin …. far from it ! Your stats do tell the story of what she is capable of ….. and she mustn’t be over looked.

However, she hasn’t swam anywhere near these times for 2 years and this event has NOT “stood still” internationally over this time. Her current technical issues have her conceding major territory to people who are swimming away from her. She’s got one helluva challenge ahead of her in the 100.

The 200back is the event where she DID put her mark of “ownership” upon and this probably still remains her best gold hope despite some now starting to lay some serious “siege” to her castle.

Roy, world records, and sportspeople’s careers, rarely run in any form of linear pattern. The old saying “the planets need to be aligned” probably sums it up. Barring very new events where there are no real “standards” in place; its a case of everything needing to go right with regards to health/form/the competition/the conditions.

Sometimes, its that “one brief shining moment” such as Bob Beamon’s long jump at altitude in Mexico (1968); sometimes someone just has that “meet of a lifetime” where everything goes right for them; some may have a golden year/season such as Shane Gould. Some just have that “golden period” where they go on a “re-writing mission” such as Thorpe, Evans, Salnikov, and now Ledecky.

There IS no “system” or quantifiable pattern. They happen ….. when they happen.

Craig Lord

Roy, Missy Franklin has never lost a 100m backstroke to Katinka Hosszu when it has counted… world cup swims over a minute really don’t count…

Bad Anon

Indeed; 10 sub 59 efforts (and counting).. Emily indeed a class apart. Good luck to her competitors. While 58.96 was good enough for gold in Beijing; it’s doubtful it will be enough for a medal in Rio 🙂


I thought this was interesting: Todd Schmitz Q & A about MF performances in Kazan. It goes into her start issues and back problems. Article dates from August:

Craig Lord

Thanks Ger, saw that at the time. The back problems went with her all through college and coach McKeever had to tailor some of the work to cater for that and make sure it didn’t get worse, I’m told.


Something left untold in the story of Misy Franklin’s back issue. If she started to have this problem as Craig said all through college then coach McKeever wasn’t probably a good ‘talor’. The way this problem has been mentioning (whenever it is convienient) makes me sceptical and let me think about it as I do about Sun Yang’s heart problem. I saw this incident at PanPac and she was definitely in pain. Was it something spine or discs related that would stay with her forever affecting her performance more or less but prmanently? I have never had a chance to be familiar with the medical report on her conditions. Whatever it is I am glad with the rise of Emily Seebohm. So the Champion should be a real one and there should not be a case when it is possible to stay comfortably on the top with actually lowering the level of performance for whatever reason it can be.


Interesting article with Schmitz.

One could almost read a veiled criticism of the NCAA; both with regards to the SCY issue and its “insularity” – the reference to backstroke “wedges”.

There is an element of “sales talk”/”pumping up one’s product” as there inevitably is when interviewing coaches. Most of us would agree that the 200back IS her “signature” event but its not just going to be a matter of her getting it all right. Seebohm still looks somewhat of an “unfinished picture” in this event and is probably the first person to make real inroads into Missy’s former “gap on the field”.

Whilst there is validity in her comments regarding her height being a disadvantage at the start; she only really has little more than an inch height differential over Seebohm who manages to get the start right.

It will be interesting where she goes with the 100free as it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll bridge the couple of gaps between herself and the medal contenders. However, she is still probably the best the USA currently has over this distance.


Roy to suggest Australia has never had any female distance swimmers of note is ridiculous, google Karen Moras, Shane Gould Jenny Turrall, Tracey Wickham Michelle Ford Julie McDonald, all world record holders or Olympic medalists!


Oh and Hayley Lewis and Lorraine Crapp!

Craig Lord

Ilsa Konrads etc… too… and 26 finalists over 400 and 800m free in Olympic history (that’s right up there on such counts…)


Commonwombat, I hope, for Missy’s sake, that she drops the 100 free altogether, except maybe for relay purposes. She can leave that race to Simone Manuel, Natalie Coughlin, Abbey Weitzeil and other US specialists.


Therea, there are strong reasons for her to drop it as an individual event. The fact remains that she is still, probably, their best over the distance.

Coughlin’s best is on par with Franklin’s but her most current form is 53high. If we were to believe the hype of certain US pundits, Manuel & Weitzel are the next “wonders of the world”. Whilst they may indeed be “all that” in the insular world of SCY; they’re 53high swimmers in the real world of LCM …… several steps away from threatening the Campbells or Sjostrom. There is a “ruck” in the 53.7-53.9 range but no-one consistently 53mid let alone 53low.

The US W4X100 picked up bronze in Kazan but they may actually be looking at defending that position rather than threatening NED for silver let alone AUS for gold. The emergence of Taylor Ruck and potentially Penny Oleksiak certainly strengthens this CAN relay and puts them very much on the USA’s tail. SWE is still maybe 1 class swimmer away but a return to best standard by Coleman would have them not far away.


It can easily happen that Franklin won’t be that much busy with solo events in Rio at all. She may go through very tough trials where her opponents would consider the achievement of the year to get on Olympic team and will get fully tapered. Franklin on the other hand by targeting Olympic medals may not be at the peak of her form. 100 free, 100 back and even 200 free can be very questionable especially if problems with her back is not resolved by the time of trials. So the “dropping” problem will get gone simply by itself.

Franklin is not only taller for more than inch she is also heavier than Seebohm (>30 pounds) and than Hosszu (>40 pounds). With such inertia she indeed needs time to accelerate to racing speed. 🙂


I think Abbey Weitzeil can improve, as she is red shirting this year, focusing on her preparation solely for the Olympics. Whether she can go 53low or sub53 remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Manuel has been disappointing this year. I am talking about her LCM. Unlike Franklin, she didn’t have any injury that we know of, and while her SCY across all three 50/100/200 distances has progressed impressively, her LCM has not only been stagnant, but actually regressed.

My prediction is that Missy will still be the most important swimmer in the USA w4x100 free. Like commonwombat, I can’t see any other girl getting faster than Missy in the 100 free. I don’t think she will drop individual 100 free next year, not if she still wants to realize her ambition to become the greatest female swimmer ever.


In the comment somewhere above, bad anon made this remark:

“While 58.96 was good enough for gold in Beijing; it’s doubtful it will be enough for a medal in Rio :)”

And it piqued my interest, so I did a quick research and found out that in ALL 100m races, men and women, the winning times at Kazan were faster than the winning times at 2008 Beijing (some were much faster such as in w100fly), with the exception of men 100 free. Even shockingly, Kazan m100free winning time is around .5 seconds slower than Beijing’s.

I wonder what the reasons. Is it because men 100 free is the oldest and most competitive event and has evolved/advanced the longest, resulting in slower and slower improvement?
Bernard’s winning time in Beijing was 47.21 and Magnussen is the only one who already matched that but there’s no guarantee he will ever get near that mark again.

Will men 100 free join other 100m events in Rio and be faster than Beijing?
I doubt it. But I am hoping quietly that Chalmers will not stop progressing and will keep getting faster steadily and will get near the mark. But Rio may be too soon for him. I can’t think other men sprinters who will swim 47.2 or faster in Rio. McEvoy showed in his relay split he can swim 47mid but I feel that’s his ceiling.
I also feel Dressel with the help of Gregg Troy has not revealed all what he is capable of. But 47low is truly another level. Santana is still a big question mark despite the talent. And I don’t even want to talk about Ning Zetao.
And I feel Magnussen has not realized his maximum potential, but now with the injuries and young, inexperienced coaches, that goal gets further and further away while time is running short.


Despite Franklin has no chance for podium at 100m free in Rio, she may get trough trials at this distance. So why to bother? As ASF noticed – for relay purpose only.
She will not get a spot at 100m back and mayn’t be qualified for the 400IM relay final. At 200m free she was just 0.75 sec faster than Schmitt this season. Both are well below their pb and I don’t expect they to approach their best times again. So it is the question of who will be at better form at time of trials.
ASF you should forget about this 16-17 year old girl on the rise for whom the ambition was a major motivation. This person is long gone. Franklin is a mature smart woman who evaluates realistically her place among leading swimmers and is very practical about her profession. I think this “pride” stuff is not that important for her anymore and she is open for another life values.


I will agree with Yozhik re Franklin with regards to reality now overriding youthful ambition. Team ethos, however, does appear to be a major part in her “make-up” as a competitor. In almost all aspects, this is an extraordinarily positive attribute.

Where it may, occaissionally, swing over to counterproductive with Missy may be her willingness to “take one for the team” which probably was a major issue during her NCAA period. There is certainly a case to be made for lightening her individual program to optimise her outcomes.

Where I may differ from Yozhik is his statement that Franklin will not get a 100back spot. That is if he’s referring to the US team rather than a Rio medal. I’ll agree that the latter looks a significant challenge but possible.

Qualifiying in the 100back DOES look more of a challenge than she’s previously faced. Coughlin’s return to 59low is certainly a warning shot. There are youngsters like Adams & Baker now breaking 1min & the likes of Pelton & Bootsma have been there, albeit some time ago. However, the quality differential SHOULD still be in her factor against most of these unless the back issues continue to be problematic.

I can go along with ASW re Weitzell as we’ve seen significantly less of her than Manuel. She was less than stellar at Universiade but her decision to red-shirt 2015-2016 NCAA is sensible.

From what we’ve seen of Manuel to date, it’s quite apparent that her 53.25 at Pan Pacs was as much an “outlier” as Roberts sub48 at 2012 AUS Trials and under similar circumstances “surfing a faster swimmers wake”. All other showings then and since tell us 53.70 – 53-90 is her current trajectory and that is a number of steps away from the business end.


One more little step off topic (no problem to be edited). There is some article in SW about swimmers ranking (http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/25-best-female-swimmers-of-2015/ ). What interesting about it is that it colects information in one place of swimmer’s height and weight. If to believe them then Franklin, Ledecky and Sjostrom are the heaviest elite swimmers. Is it a pattern we will observe in women swimming. If Peligrini can be called a lioness then when Ledecky stands up on block I think of her as orka – black and white powerful killing machine.



I disagree with your analogy of Ledecky as Orca.

IMO, Ledecky is truly a bluefin tuna.

Here’s the difference:
Orca is extremely big and can only swim very fast only up to a certain distance, while bluefin tuna, which can grow pretty big and very dense/muscly, to 500 kgs and 2 meter long, can swim extremely fast for much longer distances such as crossing the atlantic without having to slow down. Very fitting of Ledecky who doesn’t seem to need to slow down in any distances she swims.

The Orca of the swimming world would be Manadaou, the male sprinter.


Asf, where else besides this forum and maybe Britannica one can find so many interesting and curious facts 🙂
I wasn’t looking for zoological similarities and will never compare Pelligrini’s beautifully long fingernails with the lioness’ claws 🙂
I’m just talking about the impression that a swimmer makes on me. The way she/he looks and behaves on the deck but not in the pool.
I looked at the picture of bluefin and …. no I will not use for comparison this slimy, smelly, looking dull, cold blood fish. I will stay with mammal. Powerfully but graciously built, unrestrained and fearless, independent but very determined, confident with outcome of any undertaking. Dominant with strong killing instinct – no funny business around when she is in the water. Black and white – can’t picture her in pink suit like Franklin. She is an Orca.


Interesting that in Russian two words with the very similar pronunciation “косатка” and ” касатка” are used for orca and swallow respectfully. The later is also used as fund name for young woman.

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