Swimmer With Down Syndrome Breaks World Record by Over 6 Seconds Without Realizing
The mom of an Australian swimming star guesses her daughter Tahnee Afuhaamango has broken over three dozen world records in her career.
Incredibly, Tahnee, who has Down syndrome, broke one by over six seconds without even realizing it until returning home from the competition.
On Feb. 6, after completing the 200-meter freestyle event in Darwin, Tahnee, 38, headed home to Jingili to rest. That same afternoon, her mother Donna Rousham checked the times.
Tahnee had clocked 3:38.72—a full 6.64 seconds faster than the world record for swimmers with Down syndrome over age 35.
“I nearly died,” Donna told Australia’s ABC News. “You don’t hear of those times … this is really special.”
Wanting to make the achievement official, Donna filed for paperwork with the Australian authorities who witnessed the event. The record was assessed by an international authority in England and ratified by the Oceania Athletics Association.
In mid-March, the email arrived: Tahnee’s world record was official. Donna proudly posted a screenshot on Facebook for the world to see.
Claiming such a record, she said, is no easy feat. Gentle preparation is key.
“With somebody like Tahnee, you don’t want to put that pressure on,” she shared. “That’s why this one happened: she was totally relaxed.”
Tahnee’s “out-of-the-blue” record is particularly surprising, given that Tahnee is now considerably past her athletic heyday.
Tahnee’s record also offers a timely boost of morale for the Down syndrome swimmers’ community, as the Down Syndrome International Swimming Association (DSSA) saw its president Dr. Geoff Smedley pass away in March 2020.
DSSA’s Margaret Cahill said the association was “delighted” that Tahnee continues to strive for personal bests swimming competitively. “DSSA encourages individuals with Down syndrome to actively participate in the sport of swimming at all levels of competency,” she said.