American Sprint Freestyle Not Up To Par With World – Medals On The Line

On Friday, USA Swimming posted the following Tweet highlighting the dire challenge of American sprinting so far in 2015. Since then, the situation has gotten even more dire, with Katsumi Nakamura going a 48.41 in the 100m freestyle at the Japan Open.

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2014-2015 LCM Men 100 Free

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Nakamura, 21, set a new Japanese national record with that time and is now currently ranked eighth in the world, tied with Russia’s Danila Izotov.

As of now, the top American swimmer in the 100m freestyle is Nathan Adrian which isn’t much of a shock. The shock is where he stands on the global scale. With his season-best of 48.85 from the Arena Pro Swim Series at Charlotte, Adrian is merely tied for 25th in the world rankings.

According to the data provided by USA Swimming, the best time last year in the 100m freestyle at this time done by an American was a 48.23. That swim was done by Adrian at the Mesa Grand Prix where he won the 100m freestyle. He was also a 21.73 in the 50 free.

A 48.23 right now would rank Adrian fourth in the world behind Australian sprinter James Magnussen. Although this stat is riddled with bad news for the American men as a whole, it might not mean anything drastic in terms of how Adrian will perform this summer. Last season, Adrian swam some very good in-season times, and wasn’t able to produce anything better at the Pan Pacific Championships.

This season, there’s the possibility that he’s changing up his training regime in order to get a faster result at the championship meet this summer, and forgo fast in-season swims.

Adrian was one of the only American swimmers to crack the top 25 in the world rankings at the end of the 2013-2014 season in the 100m freestyle. As it were, only Adrian and Michael Phelps managed to dip under that barrier.

Adrian was ranked fifth for the 48.08 he swam at the Mare Nostrum in June, Phelps was ranked 16th for the 48.45 he swam at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

It’s clear that the world is getting a lot faster this year in an attempt to make a statement a year out from the Olympic Games. It seems as though the Americans are currently lost in the hustle of the sprint events. Adrian is the defending Olympic champion in the 100 free, and a 2013 bronze medallist in the 100 free at the world championships, however it appears these next two years have the potential to be faster than ever before.

This stat also goes to show how much trouble the American men’s 4x100m freestyle relay will be in this summer. Last year, the Americans weren’t even ranked in the top three globally in the event. They would have finished fourth at the European Championships behind the Italians. Throw Australia in the mix, and that moved the States to fifth globally last season. Both Brazil and China were within two tenths of a second off the American’s combined times as well.

Without Michael Phelps on the team, it poses even more of a threat to their medal chances. Anthony Ervin, Ryan Lochte, Matt Grevers, and Jimmy Feigen were the only other American’s to be ranked top 50 in the world last season. They all swam 48-highs, times which truly won’t make much of a difference on the relays.

For the first time since the 2001 World Championships, it’s looking like the American’s are out of a medal position in the 4×100 free relay at the World Championships.

The Americans are going to have to step it up if they want to continue to compete with the best in the world in the sprint freestyle events. They seem to be lacking speed individually, and as a relay team, putting them in a dire position heading towards 2016.





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I don’t think there’s any real cause for concern. The rest of the world has been swimming “fast times” because they’ve been having tapered championship meets. The US has only really had the Pro Series this year. Yes, people rest for those and wear fastskins, but the taper and focus aren’t anywhere near what we pour into an international competition. Come Worlds, I have no doubt we’ll do well. And especially come US Trials in a year, any remaining doubt will be crushed as the Old Guard takes on the Rising College Blood, and we create yet again the most formidable team in international swimming.

CT Swim Fan

Good Gosh, has any American that is going to the World Championships fully tapered, shaved and suited up Long Course yet? If not, please stop the stupidity.

lane 0

yeah because nathan adrian peaked way too early last year.


Let’s see, how can we make this situation worse… I know, let’s tell our #2 swimmer he’s not allowed to swim at Worlds just to show everybody who’s the boss! 🙁

I’m not sure what the purpose of a Tweet like that is. Are they trying to make Nathan Adrian feel more pressure or encourage him to rest for in-season competitions? Why doesn’t USA Swimming show some leadership and propose a solution? If you’ve noticed a systemmic problem, maybe a Select Camp focused on identification and development of freestyle sprinting talent might help? Regardless, it’s unlikely there will be a “quick-fix” for an issue like this.


Can you “fix” this? How much of it is just luck? Is there something systematic that produces great swimmers like Phelps or Ledecky? Does our collective club system somehow do a better job of training men for the 200 back (medals in every major meet for twenty years) than for the 100 free?

Plus, doesn’t help when some of the guys who could’ve been part of the next generation of US sprinters are now representing other countries…


Obviously my statement, “…it’s unlikely there will be a ‘quick-fix’ for an issue like this.”, means I’m in agreement with you! However, there are coaches/programs that are known for their ability to develop sprinters. Again, IF USS believes a problem has developed, they could create a long-term plan to deal with it. Why not get a committee of freestyle sprinters/successful coaches together and see if they have any ideas about what might put the US back on top for 2020 and beyond?

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile is a former Canadian age group swimmer who was forced to end his career early due to a labrum tear in his hip and a torn rotator cuff after being recognized as one of the top 50 breaststrokers his age in Canada. He competed successfully at both age …

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