Kevin Cordes is an American breaststroke swimmer that competed collegiately at the University of Arizona. Cordes was born on Aug. 13, 1993 in Naperville, Ill. to parents, Bill and Kristen Cordes — Bill was also an Arizona Wildcat, where he played football collegiately.
High school swimming
Cordes began his swimming career at Maverick Swim Club at age 7 and was a member of the team for 7 years before he switched to Fox Valley Swim Club and attended Neuqua Valley High School. In his sophomore year (2008-09), he was the Illinois high school state champion in the 100-yard breast with a time of 56.29 (scy). Two years later, at the 2010-11 Illinois high school state meet, he showed his incredible improvement, finishing second with a time of 54.16 (scy). Also in 2010, at the age of 17, Cordes earned a spot on the United States’ Junior Pan Pac Championships team, where he went on to finish 6th in the 100 breast.
Cordes chose to attend the University of Arizona in order to further his swimming career. As an 18-year-old Arizona freshman, he broke the 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 100 breast at the Texas Invitational with a time of 51.76. This time was an NCAA Freshman record as well. At that same meet, Cordes broke the 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 200 breast with a 1:53.55. But Cordes wasn’t satisfied with those successes. At the 2012 NCAA Division 1 championships, Cordes won the 100 breast in 51.32, breaking the American Record. He was also part of Arizona’s winning 200 medley relay team. That relay team broke an American Record, with a time of 1:23.53. Cordes also placed second as part of the Wildcats’ 400 medley relay team, and finished third in the 200 breast.
Cordes continued to be a star for the Arizona Wildcats in 2013. At the 2013 NCAA Division 1 championships he won both the 100 and 200 breast. He lowered his 100 breast American Record once again with a 50.74 and even-split a 49.56 (the fastest-ever breaststroke split on a medley relay). He would also lower his 200 breast American Record with a blistering 1:48.68.
During his junior year of competition, Cordes once again qualified for the NCAA Championships. He went undefeated individually once again, picking up wins in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Cordes returned his senior with undefeated titles, where he won the 100 breast for the fourth year in a row, but in the 200 distance Cordes finished second.
2012 Olympic Trials
Although Cordes continued to swim fast throughout 2012, he narrowly missed making the US Olympic team with a 3rd place finish in the 100 breast. Cordes also competed in the 200-meter breast, but he finished 12th overall, making it to the final of the event.
National and international competition
However, at the 2012 US Open, Cordes crushed the 17-18 NAG long course records for the 100 and 200-meter breast. He was selected for the 2012 Short Course World Championships and proved that he deserved to be on that roster by lowering his American Record in the 100-yard breast at the 2012 Short Course Nationals with a 51.10. But the 100 breast wasn’t enough for the young swimmer; Cordes also broke the 200-yard breast American Record at the 2012 Short Course Nationals with a time of 1:50.73.
At the 2012 Short Course World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, Cordes won gold as part of the United States’ 400-meter medley relay. He also took home a bronze in the 100-meter breast. The breaststroker earned a spot on the United States’ 2013 World Championships Team in the 100 and 200 breast, and placed second in the 50 breast; however, he did not medal at the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
At the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships Cordes finished third in the and second in the 50-meter breast to earn a roster spot on the Pan Pacs team and the World Championships Team. He also won the 200-meter breast and set a new U.S. Open Record. At Pan Pacs Cordes won gold as a member of the 400-meter medley relay.
2015 World Championships
At the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Cordes swam the breaststroke events for the USA. Cordes competed in both the 50 and 200-meter distances, leaving the 100-meter to the likes of Nic Fink and Cody Miller. In the 50, Cordes came out of the semi-final in 3rd place, and solidified his position in the championship final. In the final, Cordes held on to his 3rd place finish to grab a bronze medal. In a tight heat, he finished just .3 behind the gold-medal winner.
In his best event, the 200-meter breaststroke, Cordes advanced to the championship final in a stacked heat full of talent. After diving off the blocks with the slowest reaction in the field, Cordes turned at the 100-meter mark in 3rd, and pulled ahead of the leader Andrew Willis to finish 2nd behind Germany’s Marco Koch.
Individually Cordes won two medals, but he also competed on the USA’s 4×100-meter medley relay. Swimming the breaststroke leg, Cordes split the second-fastest time in the field, and the squad finished first for a gold medal just .1 seconds ahead of Australia.
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials
Cordes stamped his spot on Team USA for his first Olympic Games after winning gold in the 100 meter breaststroke at the trials. In the semi finals he broke the US and American record with his time of 58.94. The time also places him second in the world so far this year behind Great Britain’s world record holder Adam Peaty. In the final, Cordes wasn’t able to match his time from the semi final, but he was able to touch out Cody Miller and gain a selection to the games.
In the 200 meter breaststroke, Cordes again had a better swim in the semi finals, breaking the US record in 2:07.81. But his record stood for only a day as Josh Prenot took the gold in the final. Cordes finished 2nd to pick up his second individual event at the Games.
2016 Rio Olympics
Cordes won his first Olympic medal, a gold, for his part in the 400 meter medley relay. He was joined in the heats by David Plummer, Tom Shields and Caeleb Dressel to put USA through to the final seeded second. Ryan Murphy, Cody Miller, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian combined in the final to take the gold.
In his Olympic debut earlier in the week, Cordes finished just outside the medals in the 100 meter breaststroke behind his country mate, Cody Miller. He turned in third place but couldn’t hold on, finishing fourth in 59.22.
He also made the final in the 200 meter breaststroke where he finished 8th in 2:08.34.
Originally developed by Christina Wright