Teenager Minna Atherton of Australia had a sensational weekend to headline the fourth International Swimming League match, this time in Budapest, Hungary:
● On Saturday, the 19-year-old Backstroke specialist won the 200 m Back in 1:59.48, just 0.25 behind Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu’s world Short-Course (25 m pool) record of 1:59.23 set in 2014; Hosszu was second in 2:02.09.
The time moves Atherton to no. 3 on the all-time list, behind Hosszu and Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina from 2016 (1:59.35).
● Later, she won the 50 m Back in 25.81, with fellow Aussie Holly Barratt second at 25.99. Atherton’s time was just 0.14 from the world Short-Course mark of 25.67 by Etiene Medeiros (BRA) from 2014.
● On Sunday, she went for the Backstroke triple in the 100 m Back – a distance in which she won the Worlds (long-course) silver medal this past summer – and shattered the world Short-Course mark at 54.89.
She knew she was swimming well enough to get the record, saying afterwards, “I gave it a red-hot crack” and finished in 54.89, erasing Hosszu’s 55.03 from 2014. American Amy Bilquist was second in 56.64 and Hosszu, swimming one of her eight events in front of her home fans on the weekend, was fourth in 58.11.
A three-time World Junior Champion in 2015, Atherton has stamped herself as someone to watch as Tokyo gets closer.
As for the rest of the meet, Hosszu was in the middle of the action as both home star and as a part-owner of the home-standing Iron team. She won the 400 m Medley on Saturday and the 200 m Fly and 200 m Medley on Sunday and won the overall MVP Award with 47.0 points, ahead of Australia’s Kyle Chalmers (London Road/41.5) and Dutch sprint star Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Iron/40.5).
In terms of the team scoring, London was easily the best thanks to its sprint strength, scoring 505.5 points to 425.0 for Iron, 408.0 for the L.A. Current and 292.5 for the New York Breakers.
The ISL circuit now takes a break for three weeks; the next meet is in College Park, Maryland for the “American Derby” with the four U.S. teams.
The ISL match in Budapest wasn’t the only hot swimming on the weekend. At the National Short-Course Championships in Tokyo, five-time World Short-Course Champion Daiya Seto won the 400 m Medley in 3:55.53, just 0.03 short of the 3:55.50 world mark held by Ryan Lochte (USA) from 2010.
It’s the no. 2 performance in 400 m Medley Short-Course history, and both a national and Asian Short-Course record for Seto.