Mitch Larkin launches world record assault with Commonwealth 100 mark

Mitch Larkin took down the Commonwealth 100m backstroke record for the second time in 24 hours for a 49.25 victory at Australian short-course Championships in Adelaide. After a 49.44 effort in semis, Larkin’s latest progress to a time that marks the second best ever in a textile suit, took him ever closer to the world record of 48.94, set at a time of shiny suits.

Out in 11.51 and at half-way on 23.83 (12.32), coach Michael Bohl‘s charge led the whole way, reaching the last turn in 36.57 (12.74) before a last lap of (12.68) for gold in 49.25, the winning margin just shy of a second. The former Commonwealth and Australian record holder Bobby Hurley chased all the way to silver in 50.20, bronze going to Ashley Delaney in 51.30.

Larkin, Commonwealth 200m champion this year, will arrive in Doha next month for world short-course titles as a favourite for global crown, the 100m having so far been his second target beyond his stronger 200m.

The Australian and Commonwealth 100m standard had stood to Robert Hurley at 49.92 since 2009 before Larkin’s semi yesterday, while the world record from the same time of shiny suits stands at 48.94 to Nick Thoman (USA) and the world textile best at 48.95, to Stanislav Donets (RUS) since 2010.

Larkin has made steady progress through the ranks. Now 21, he is coming of age in terms of his physical development from boy to man. On the deck standing next to some of his key opponents, Larkin has not stood out among the tall and strong folk around him but the muscle is starting to show and in the water his skills and potential are obvious.

Progress has been steady, long-term, notable the fact that Larkin’s best long-course 10 performances over 50, best 13 over 100m and best 5 over 200m are all from 2014.

Over 100m, he has stepped up from 55.11 to 53.28 over 100m (long-course) since 2011 and over the same period made progress over 200m from 1:59.09 to 1:55.26. In the little pool, Larkin has stepped up a second over 100m in the past year, his 49.44 Commonwealth record from semi-finals yesterday comparing with a season best of 50.53 on 2013 World Cup Tour.

The 200 at nationals in Adelaide is to come: Larkin’s best this season is a 1:48.69 from world cup tour, compared to a 1:49.89 on the same tour a year ago.

Larkin was among those swimmers worst affected by the floods in Queensland back in 2012. While the St Peters Western pool and program of coach Michael Bohl remained open, about half of all squad members were unable to make it to training during the mop up because their homes were cut off by floodwaters. Larkin and his family were among the worst hit, the family rescued from their home by emergency services, according to local reports at the time.