8 Times The Fastest U.S. Swim Ever Isn’t The American Record

by Kevin Gast 14

September 04th, 2016 International, National, News, Records

On Tuesday, August 30th, Katie Meili set the American Record in the 100 SCM breaststroke at the FINA World Cup meet in Berlin. Meili broke the record by just over a tenth of a second, touching the wall in 1:03.20. There is, however, a catch- she is not the fastest American to ever swim the event. That distinction belongs to Rebecca Soni, who swam a 1:02.70 in 2009- a half second faster than Meili’s new record.

2009 was a turbulent year for the world of swimming- the polyurethane swim suit was cause for massive controversy. Soni’s swim, from the 2009 Duel in the Pool, came at the end of the year. FINA had not officially banned the suits, while USA Swimming had. This meant that Soni’s time, along with any swim by an American in the polyurethane suits, could not count as an American Record. It could, however, get registered by FINA as an official time. This wrinkle in time cause seven more top American times to not count as American Records, not including Meili’s recent record.

American Record Anomalies

Seven of the fastest American swims do not count as American Records- all short course meter, and all set at that same 2009 Duel in the Pool meet in Manchester.

Nathan Adrian holds the top times in the 50 (20.71) and 100 (45.08) SCM freestyle. These times are both faster than the American Records, held by Anthony Ervin (20.85) and Ian Crocker (46.25). Adrian was also apart of the fastest 400 SCM freestyle relay in American history, who along with Matt Grevers, Garrett Weber-Gale, and Michael Phelps swam a 3:03.30. This time is faster than the American Record of 3:06.10, set by Adrian, Weber-Gale, Ricky Berens, and Ryan Lochte.

Allison Schmitt holds the fastest American times in the 200 (1:51.57) and 400 (3:55.89) SCM freestyle. Both times are faster than the American Records, set by Missy Franklin (1:52.74) and Katie Hoff (3:57.07). Julia Smit of Stanford Aquatics holds the fastest times in the 2oo (2:04.60) and 4oo (4:21.04) SCM individual medleys. These are both faster than the American Records, set by Caitlin Leverenz (2:04.91 and 4:24.62).

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Interesting article.

This is a little off topic, but I can’t wait to see Ledecky race SCM and destroy the 400 record.


Do we have any idea that she will ever?


Yeah, I would love to see Ledecky take a shot at SCM records while she is in her prime. I wonder when she will do so? I am guessing she will be swimming mostly SCY due to college.

Alex Simmonds

Lol , Her 400 LCM WR only 0.6s from allison schmitt 3.55.89 time


I think Katie Ledecky has more important unfinished business in LCM. 1. She is probably the only women during last 40(!) years since Shane Gould and Shirley Babashoff who was awarded Olympic medal as 100, 200, 400 and 800 swimmer. The next step is to have world records from 200 through 1500. It looks like she won’t have competition at this area since Sjostrom hasn’t shown any progress at freestyle since 2014. The only possible suspect is Oleksiak who made 1:55 split in Rio. 2. 400 IM. Hosszu will be 31 in Tokyo and there is no young swimmer on horizon who will be strong at this distance. Since 400IM comes at the end of WC I would expect already… Read more »

Scott Morgan

Interesting points! Just one quibble: Sjostrom’s Rio time was a PB, progress by any measure.


Sjostrom’s best times in freestyle: 50 – 23.98(2014), 100 – 52.67(2014), 200- 1:53.64 ( relay start with ry=0.34, 2014), 400 – 4:06.04 (2014)
1:54.08 in Rio can be considered the match to her relay split in 2014, but not an improvement.

Scott Morgan

My quibble stands. sorry. Changing your methodology on the point that doesn’t fit your claim doesn’t hold. A PB is a PB.


As you said, Scott: “A PB is a PB”. It is hard to argue against this unshakable fact. But I wasn’t talking about PB. I just said that Sjostrom wasn’t faster in Rio than she was in Berlin. Compare her splits to understand why I’m stating that.


Overholt in the IM? She was 432 mid in Kazan for bronze and still only 18 years old


Agree. So there will be strong competition around 4:29, 4:30 at 400IM. Bosses will definitely bonuses back to this level.




Didn’t Meili go 1:02.9?


Yes, she went 1:02.92 in Berlin. Downvoters probably just hate breaststroke.