arena Swim of the Week: Jordan Crooks Drops Scintillating Early-Season 50 Free

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Although it wasn’t quite as fast as he might’ve gone at the end of practice (up for debate)Jordan Crooks produced one of the quickest times we’ve ever seen this early in the season in the men’s 50 freestyle.

Crooks, a 20-year-old sophomore at Tennessee, clocked in at 19.36 in the Vols’ dual meet sweep over UNC Wilmington last week, taking over the top time in the nation by more than three-tenths of a second.

Crooks is coming off a standout opening campaign in Knoxville that included becoming the fastest freshman of all-time in the 50 free (18.53), roaring to the SEC title. After following up with a third-place finish in his first NCAAs (18.60), the Cayman Islands native appears to be on track for an even better sophomore season.

If we take a look back at where he was as a freshman at this point in 2021, Crooks was nowhere near the level he’s currently at.

At Tennessee’s season-opening dual with UCNW last year, he was 20.92 in the 50 free, and didn’t break the 20-second barrier until the mid-season Tennessee Invitational in November (19.39). He didn’t go faster than the 19.36 he went last weekend until SECs last season.

On top of this individual progress, Crooks’ 19.36 stands up as the third-fastest 50 free swim we’ve seen in the NCAA prior to the start of November.

Going back as far as the 2007-08 season, Danny Krueger and Caeleb Dressel are the only swimmers to have been quicker than Crooks pre-November.

Fastest Times Prior to Nov. 1, Men’s 50 Free (SCY)

  1. Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 19.10 – 2017 All Florida Invite (Sept. 22)
  2. Danny Kruger (Texas), 19.16 – 2020 Texas First Chance Invite (Oct. 16)
  3. (TIE) Jordan Crooks (Tennessee), 19.36 – 2022 Tennessee vs UNCW (Oct. 1)
  4. (TIE) Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 19.36 – 2015 Texas vs IU vs Florida (Oct. 17)

While he’ll clearly be among the frontrunners, Crooks will have plenty of competition for the NCAA title in this event come March, with eight other men already sub-20 in the event this season. Leading that charge is Florida freshman Josh Liendo, who was 19.69 in his first SCY 50 free two weeks ago.

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K Brew Addict
1 month ago

Don’t sleep on Tennessee. Someone keeps saying “good things happen here every day” and I believe it. A team on the ups. GBO!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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