Mitch Larkin Refuses 2nd Best On The Clock: 52.11 Back Blast Seals Status At World No1

Mitch Larkin - a 200m only swimmer at Barcelona 2013, he took gold over two laps at Kazan 2015 and added the four-lap crown to boot … now he's swiftest 100m man in the world, too - images by Patrick B. Kraemer and (right) Craig Lord

And there it was, the response to a freaky 52.18 from Ryan Murphy at world titles: 52.11. Mitch Larkin, of Australia, is now the world’s best backstroke swimmer of the year – and the fastest, no argument. The time set a Commonwealth and Australia record and is the third best ever, shared second swiftest in a textile suit.

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And there it was, the response to a freaky 52.18 from Ryan Murphy at world titles: 52.11. Mitch Larkin, of Australia, is now the world’s best backstroke swimmer of the year – and the fastest, no argument. The time set a Commonwealth and Australia record and is the third best ever, shared second swiftest in a textile suit.



No matter how often this has happened, I am still impressed by Hosszu.

The quantity AND quality of her swims are unparalleled. Full stop.

1:55 200 free
2:08 200 IM
2:07 200 back
And a couple or more medal winning swims.

Craig Lord

Unparalleled indeed, aswimfan. Swimming has seen nothing like it, particularly in the context of all that happened before she was 23.


The issue with the 200back with Seebohm was that between 2008 to 2014, her route to international representation was blocked by Hocking (a double World silver medallist, Olympic finalist and 2.06 swimmer) and Nay (regular World & double Olympic finalist and 2.07low swimmer).

Once Nay was ruled out of 2014 CG; the 200 was suddenly lifted in importance and her 2014 outings were sufficient to give her and her coaches incentive to now see her as a legitimate international “player” in this event and approach it far more seriously than before. With Hocking’s unavailability for the 2015 international meets; she then became the no1 AUS seed for the event.


Seriously impressive again from Larkin. Plummer too, is that a PB for him?


aswimfan just in those 3 swims you mentioned we have the worlds most versatile female swimmer… female in history has gone close to those times. Not Coughlin, Franklin, Sjostrom, Seebohm anyone.


I don’t think you can really base it all on times, Felix. The sport has come a long way and looking at times is not enough to paint the true picture. While Hosszu is very fast in all said strokes, when you look percentage wise how far down on many WRs she is, the times compare with many of those Caulkins was swimming in the 70s/

Hosszu has medalled internationally in three ‘Strokes’, Back, Fly and IM. Caulkins medalled Breast, Fly and IM. It’s also worth mentioning that Hosszu has never won a LC title outside of IMs, Caulkins was a world champion on butterfly as well as IM and led off a 4×100 free WC winning team that destroyed the East German team led by Barbara Krause by 4 seconds.

It’s also worth mentioning that Caulkins has held American (and World) records in all 4 individual strokes, as well as IM. Her 4.40s 400IM in 1978 with no dolphin kicks, a hand touch on breaststroke and the old breaststroke rules is still, for me, the greatest IM swim of all-time on the female side.

Hosszu is a superb talent and her ability to churn at these super-fast times is unrivalled, but most versatile of all-time? It’s a debate, I’d call Caulkins over Hosszu personally.


Meanwhile, Le Clos clocks another 48 in the 100 free … a LOW 48 at that … and, I believe, his 2nd best ever?


The Hungarian 800/1500 Free records are at 8.22 & 15.47 (Boglarka Kapas) off the top of my head. Katinka Hosszu is miles away from those times.

My point was, Caulkins was good enough to make the US 4×100 team, a team that was the best in the world for 4 seconds. She had a winning margin in the 400IM (7 seconds.. ahead of Schneider!!) that we haven’t seen since. Her time (4.40) was only 17s shy of what it took Rod Strachan to win the 400IM at the 1976 Olympics, then a World Record. Equivalent of Hosszu swimming 4.20ish. She was the WC over 200fly, 2 seconds clear of her closest rival. She won a silver over 100 breast behind a (likely) juiced up WR holding Soviet swimmer. She produced a race winning breaststroke split in the 4×100 medley relay.

She did it all before her 16th birthday. Could you imagine a current US female swimmer holding American records in all 4 individual strokes? It’s mind-boggling.

I respect Hosszu hugely as an athlete, but she is not quite with Caulkins just yet. Not for me anyway.

Craig Lord

I agree with you, Dee. You are thinking more laterally – and deeper. Well done.

Craig Lord

Roy, you are far beyond reality: Hosszu 200 br = 2:29.00


@ThereaLuigi. It looks like Le Clos cannot sleep well because of Ye Shiwen’s fame. He wants to repeat her feat and be faster at freestyle leg than Lochte 🙂 I will be really surprised if that strong effort at 100 fs is done for the sake of IM race only. And why is he swimming that fast in November?

Craig Lord

That’s ok, Roy; it is her obvious weakest link and pales by comparison to others in the medley ranks, 2:25.40 l/c pb for Hannah Miley, for example – and highlights another extraordinary aspect of her 200IM split for WR at world titles this year: 36.70 (Kanako Watanabe was the only person faster – and she claimed 200br gold), Miley half a second slower than Hosszu on that split on her way to her fastest ever swim in textile, at 2:10.1. Hosszu 2013 world-title and career best, breaststroke split: 37.46 … 0.76sec gain in 2 years at her age on the way to a 2:06.1 world record is extraordinary and reflects the kind of progress she has made on almost all events, all strokes and distances – a unique profile at the elite end of the sport.



I am too lazy to check for facts, but I am pretty sure Hosszu is faster in all events now than when she was 22-23.

That’s another unparalleled aspect about Hosszu: most other swimmers who get older (24 and up) usually edit/trim their events to get faster/consistently fast in their core events, e.g. Seebohm, Lochte, Phelps, Coughlin, Pellegrini, etc etc.
But Hosszu actually _added_ events to get faster in all of them.

Craig Lord

All barring 200 ‘fly and 400IM shiny suit times from 2009, aswimfan (every single other event on Olympic roster is heavily stacked with swims from 2014 and 2015 alone) … a unique profile in elite waters


Yes, I forgot to add “textile best times”.

Gabor Nagy

I don’t like the underlying tone in your writings about Katinka Hosszu, Craig! First of all, she became a World Champion at the age of 19 – it is not something which have come over night! Secondly, is it illegal to improve late in your career or test/try out new strokes? Why not write an article about the sudden post-London explosion in British swimming – just a suggestion. I think Katinka Hosszu deserves more credit than you anglo-american pundits give her, she is the most innovative swimmer in the world at the moment, a six time World Champion!


Craig Lord

Gabor Nagy: you read more into the facts than is stated; that is your interpretation and your emotions are taking you to a place of your own choosing. There is the illogical in the mix of your comment: the combined forces of in-training GBR swimmers does not and even cannot, I would say, get anywhere close to producing the regular results and quality of this one swimmer whose profile stands out in very specific ways (and as Yozhik suggests, perhaps they all have it wrong and all the plans and science and much else being spent on elite sport is all a waste of time and money… then again …). There is not a single British swimmer, or swimmer from anywhere else in the world for that matter, whose profile gets anywhere close to being that of KH’s. As for the world champion at 19: in shiny suit, while the article makes it quite clear that she was world-class (so your point had already been made – by me) … what, however, she was not was world-class top 10/20 in just about every single Olympic event and able to swim 10, 20 and even more world-class quality times in specific events at a pace well inside her pre-23 years of age best in two years alone (the last two, relatively late in her career). In my two reports on Dubai action, I point out the outstandingly unique nature of her profile. Facts. How you interpret those facts, I leave to you. I would advise against suggesting that I have stated something I have not.

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