All-American Luke Percy Won’t Return to Tennessee For His Sophomore Season

Tennessee All-American Luke Percy won’t return to Tennessee for his sophomore season next year, he confirmed on Monday. That opens up a hole with one of the world’s top sprint talents deciding to remain in the Gold Coast, Australia to focus on his training there.

Percy was a 19.56 in the 50 free to miss scoring at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, but followed it with a 42.56 in the B-Final of the 100 free for 12th place. His season bests were a 19.40 and 42.22 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles on a flat start.

He also led off Tennessee’s scoring 200 and 400 free relays, and anchored their scoring 200 and 400 medley relays.

In addition to the accolades earned as a freshman at Tennessee, Percy was also the 2013 Junior World Champion leading into his freshman campaign, beating American Caeleb Dressel in the 50 free (22.14 – long course meters).

He will now return home to his native Southport Olympic Swimming Club to chase the 2016 Olympic Games. He will be fighting through a deep Australian sprint group, but with Cameron McEvoy, among others, as a training partner, he is well situated for continued success in Australia’s senior ranks. The Australian National Championships are usually in a tough time conflict with the NCAA (American collegiate) championship meet, which can make it challenging for Australian swimmers to focus on both.

Percy swam at this year’s Australian National Championships, but coming off of NCAA’s he was far from his best. He was just 7th in the 50 free in 22.71 and was just 10th in the 100 free in 49.92.

With a year to right himself, though, Percy should be challenging for a spot on the 2015 World Championship roster, and it shouldn’t be long before he begins to earn endorsements as well.

Tennessee, who has a very good incoming freshman class, will be left with a big hole in their lineups. The top returning sprinter will be senior Troy Tillman, who was a 19.72 in the 50 free and a 43.37 in the 100 free.

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bobo gigi
6 years ago

Always the same question.
Does he feel he can improve in NCAA as well and fast as he could do it while staying at home?
No probably.
3/4 of the year short course training in college
90% of the year long course training in Australia
If you want to become a world-class sprinter with international results, you must train in long course.
And as you said, there’s also a schedule conflict between NCAA championships and Australian championships.
Not very surprising decision. He has 2016 in mind.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

“If you want to become a world-class sprinter with international results, you must train in long course.”

5 out of 8 finalists in London Olympic train in the US. I agree that they don’t put as much emphasized on short course yards, but they do about 30-50% of their training in short course yard. I heard that Eddie Reese does a lot of short course training during long course season.

Reply to  SwimFan
6 years ago

Here’s the men 100 free finalists in London:
Nathan Adrian, James Magnussen, Brent Hayden , Yannick Agnel, Sebastiaan Verschuren, César Cielo, Hanser García, Nikita Lobintsev

The only one who trained in the USA prior to 2012 London was Nathan Adrian, and even then, he had graduated from CAL and could focus on LCM.

Reply to  aswimfan
6 years ago

Here is the 50 Free finalist in London:
Eamon Sullivan, George Bovell, Florent Manaudou, Cesar Cielo, Bruno Fratus, Cullen Jones, Anthony Ervin, Roland Schoeman.

5 of these swimmers trained in the US prior to London. As good as Percy in the 100 free, he is way better in the 50. I think short course training is crucial for 50 freestylers. I would love to know how much short course training SwimMAC does over the summer.

M Palota
Reply to  SWIMFAN
6 years ago

I don’t think it’s a short course versus long course issue as much as it’s a timing issue.

US Trails for major international meets happen later in the long course season than they do for other nations. US Swimming knows that they’ve got a bunch of athletes at NCAA’s and they time things accordingly. (I’ve no official insight here: It looks that way, though, from an outsider’s perspective.)

Selection meets in other nations happen earlier and often – very often – conflict with NCAA’s. Timing your taper, holding your taper, get’s all screwed up.

lane 0
6 years ago

It’s probably good news for Australia. Percy really is a great swimmer with much potential.
Percy, Mcevoy, Magnussen, and Chalmers or Graham. And you have a killer 4x100m free relay

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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