A 400 Medley Relay Of Kate Douglass Clones Would Be Faster Than Almost Every NCAA Team

Yanyan Li
by Yanyan Li 100

February 19th, 2023 ACC, College, National, News

While doing the day 5 ACC finals live recap last night, I stumbled upon a stat from SwimSwam commenter “organic garlic crackers”, who said that if Kate Douglass decided to clone herself three times and make a 400 medley relay, her best times in each stroke would add up to a 400 medley relay time that’s faster than every other team except for Virginia. After seeing this stat, I decided to look more into the numbers behind it to figure out just how dominant and versatile Douglass is in the 100-yard stroke races.

Douglass’s 50.47 100 back, 58.14 100 breast, 48.84 100 fly, and 45.86 100 free add up to a time of 3:23.31, which is indeed faster than the school records for every single women’s NCAA team with the exception of Virginia (3:21.80) and NC State (3:23.29). If you swap her flat start 100 fly time with her fastest fly split of 48.25, you get a 400 medley relay time of 3:22.72—beating out NC State. So in other words, if this hypothetical squad of Kate Douglass clones was to make a relay, the only school they wouldn’t be able to beat would be their own.

Of course, this doesn’t even account for the fact that Douglass has never swum the 100 back or 100 breast rested at a championship meet, nevertheless on a relay. If she decided to seriously make a run at either event, who knows much much faster her own medley relay would be?

All-Time Hypothetical Top Performers, Women’s 400 Medley Relay:

  1. Virginia — 3:21.80 (2023)
  2. Kate Douglass Clones — 3:22.72
  3. NC State — 3:23.29 (2022)
  4. Stanford — 3:25.05 (2018)
  5. Cal — 3:25.24 (2019)
  6. Texas — 3:25.29 (2022)

Splits Comparison:

Virginia Kate Douglass Clones NC State Stanford Cal Texas
Back Gretchen Walsh — 49.25 Kate Douglass — 50.47 Katharine Berkoff — 49.25 Ally Howe — 50.34 Amy Bilquist — 50.84 Olivia Bray — 51.48
Breast Alex Walsh — 57.45 Kate Douglass — 58.14 Sophie Hansson — 56.67 Kim Williams — 58.59 Ema Rajic — 58.53 Lydia Jacoby — 57.13
Fly Kate Douglass — 48.25 Kate Douglass — 48.25 Kylee Alons — 50.28 Janet Hu — 50.36 Katie McLaughlin — 50.00 Emma Sticklen — 49.35
Free Aimee Canny — 46.85 Kate Douglass — 45.86 Abby Arens — 47.09 Simone Manuel — 45.80 Abbey Weitzeil — 45.87 Kelly Pash — 47.33
Total 3:21.80 3:22.72 3:23.29 3:25.09 3:25.24 3:25.29

Talk about dominance, right?

Researching Douglass led me to my next question—how would this Kate Douglass medley relay compare to the medley relays of other female swimmers if they had cloned? Since the USA Swimming times database is being really slow, I couldn’t compile data on which exact swimmers have the fastest combination of the four 100-yard strokes. However, I did add up the best times of a few swimmers that I knew at the top of my head to be super versatile, and none of them were faster than Douglass.

The swimmer capable of coming closest to Douglass is of course her teammate Alex Walsh, whose best times in the 100 stroke races (relay splits included) add up to a 3:24.27. That time is over a second slower than the medley relay of Kate Douglass clones, but it’s still faster than every other team except for UVA and NC State. Gretchen Walsh and Maggie MacNeil have some of the fastest swims of all-time in the 100-yard back, fly, and free races, but both swimmers are hindered by their breaststroke times. G. Walsh’s best 100-yard times add up to a 3:25.75, while MacNeil’s times add up to a 3:28.05 largely due to her 1:04.27 100 breast.

Take a look at the added-up best times in the 100-yard races for some of the most versatile female NCAA swimmers, and how they compare to Douglass’s:

Splits Comparison:

Kate Douglass Clones Alex Walsh Clones Gretchen Walsh Clones Maggie MacNeil Clones
Back Kate Douglass — 50.47 Alex Walsh — 50.88 Gretchen Walsh — 49.00 Maggie MacNeil — 49.76
Breast Kate Douglass — 58.14 Alex Walsh — 57.45 Gretchen Walsh — 1:01.71 Maggie MacNeil — 1:04.27
Fly Kate Douglass — 48.25 Alex Walsh — 49.45 Gretchen Walsh — 49.03 Maggie MacNeil — 48.76
Free Kate Douglass — 45.86 Alex Walsh — 46.49 Gretchen Walsh — 46.01 Maggie MacNeil — 45.26
Total 3:22.72 3:24.27 3:25.75 3:28.05

Now, how does Douglass’s versatility compare to that of men’s swimmers? The first example that comes to mind is Caeleb Dressel, who was an elite 100-yard flyer, freestyler, and breaststroker. His best times in the 100-yard events (47.83 100 back, 50.03 100 breast, 42.80 100 fly, 39.90 100 free) add up to a 3:00.56 400 medley relay time, which probably would contend for an NCAA title in most years, but is still slower than the team records of Texas, Florida, Indiana, and Cal. But as noted before, it’s important to consider that Dressel never took the 100 back seriously, nor did he really swim fly on relays. In addition, if four-stroke talent Leon Marchand decided to pursue the 100-yard races more, he could probably be as dominant as Douglass with his own 400 medley relay.

All-Time Hypothetical Top Performers, Men’s 400 Medley Relay:

  1. Texas — 2:59.22 (2017)
  2. Florida — 2:59.48 (2023)
  3. Indiana — 2:59.70 (2019)
  4. Cal — 3:00.36 (2022)
  5. Caeleb Dressel Clones — 3:00.56 

So, what does this data all mean? Well, it basically just further confirms what we all knew before—that Kate Douglass is very good at swimming, and is also one of the most versatile athletes in the history of the sport.

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Charlie Hodgson
1 month ago

Kate is actually faster than the Virginia team if you also subtract the typical 6 tenths takeoff advantage for breast and free. That takes her time down to 3:21.52.

Right Dude Here
1 month ago

What about order? Do you go Douglass, Douglass, Douglass, Douglass? Or do you move Douglass to the breaststroke and Douglass to the fly so it’s Douglass, Douglass, Douglass, Douglass?

Reply to  Right Dude Here
1 month ago

For me, the obvious order would be: Kate/Katherine/Katie/KD. 😉

HOO love
Reply to  RCP
1 month ago

You forgot cadwallader

Reply to  HOO love
24 days ago

She’s the alternate.

1 month ago

Random question, but does anyone know which goggles Douglass is wearing here?

Reply to  WouldBeSwammer
1 month ago

some sort of arena goggles

Reply to  WouldBeSwammer
1 month ago
Last edited 1 month ago by Swammer
1 month ago

Some of the best cloned 400 MR swimmers of all time:

Curzan (not Huske… bad exchanges)

All time best
Natalie for women and Grevers for men

1 month ago

surely with his turns dressel could break 46.0 in 100bk. that puts him under all the men’s records by approximately 1 second, all flat start times too. so by giving him a 46.0, his times are more impressive overall than dougie’s, but both are imo the most versatile yards swimmers ever.

Reply to  summerbreezin
1 month ago

Tracy Caulkins had American Records in 100 & 500 free, 200 back, 100 & 200 breast, 200 & 400 IM, won NCAAs & AIAWs (predecessor to NCAAs for women) in 100 & 200 fly, among other events, including 100 IM (!). She also was probably the 2nd or 3rd fastest 200 freestyler at the time and at some point, swam the 1650 at a mid-year meet and was within seconds of the American record. So while Dressell and Douglas are (were?) extremely versatile and we don’t really know what they could do in all the events offered, I still think Tracy Caulkins has them beat. Not to mention the LC WRs in 200 fly, 200 & 400 IM, World &… Read more »

Reply to  summerbreezin
1 month ago

I would assume he would be in the 44 range if rested

Werner Swimzog
1 month ago

But it would take two decades before they reached maturity and by then swimming will have gotten even faster

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Werner Swimzog
1 month ago

What kind of rinky-dink, out of date cloning machine are you using? You gotta upgrade to the iYou. It spits out a 3d printed copy in minutes.

Panic Breaststroke
1 month ago

I feel like Kate Douglas sees Kate Douglas go off ahead of her on the fly leg and hype machine kicks in and chasing kate splits faster than leading Kate

Tea rex
1 month ago

To be fair, this assumes all 4 Kates swim PR on the same relay. None of the other relays have all 4 swimmers going bests at the same time.

Still, this is a fun stat. It makes me wonder if Kate could do a good 200 IM at NCAAs. I think she qualified this year, so it might be fun to try a new event.

Reply to  Tea rex
1 month ago

I can’t tell if the second part is sarcasm bc the first part is clearly true

Last edited 1 month ago by jeff
Reply to  Tea rex
1 month ago

This is true (well the first sentence paragraph anyway). The other relays have to use their actual school record, which in most cases means they’re not using their actual best performers of all time in each stroke, but also their swimmers aren’t all going to swim best times in the same race. If you looked at actual hypothetical best relays from each school then no individual would be able to come close.

organic garlic crackers
Reply to  Jimmyswim
1 month ago

I understand your point, but disagree. In constructing hypothetical relays, you also want to make sure all swimmers are actually competing in the same season. It’s a long post but if you want to see my working feel free to do so.

For example, Stanford’s school record in the 100 breast is a 57.3 from 2016, but since their fastest free/back/fly came from more recent students, it’d be faster to set the relay in 2022 with Smith, Huske and Ruck and use Allie Raab’s PB on breast.

Funnily enough, the Douglass clones TIE a hypothetical best Stanford relay to the 100th of a second. (My math may not check out, but the point stands.) That’s crazy. Huske’s great flat… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by organic garlic crackers

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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