Blueseventy Swim of the Week: Shebat’s 100 Back Turned The Meet


Disclaimer: Blueseventy 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 blueSeventy Swim 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.

OK, OK. Clearly the best swim of the week belongs to one Caeleb Dressel, and the discussion of best swim is probably an argument between 17.63, 42.80 and 39.90. And while that discussion would no doubt be fascinating, we’ve already covered Dressel in depth this week, and that very discussion is going to be the subject of our next poll update. So in lieu of rewriting the same accolades and Dressel superlatives that have been expressed ten times in the past week (and to prevent me getting back on my well-worn ‘yard swims matter’ soapbox), let’s use our Swim of the Week to unpack the swim that won the men’s NCAA title for Texas.

Much of Texas’s 4-peat title hopes rested on two swimmers: senior Joseph Schooling, an Olympic champ coming off a lackluster junior year, and John Shebatthe junior coming off an extraordinary sophomore season but dealing with an injury-riddled season that made him a major question mark.

While Schooling was fairly similar to the swimmer he was a year ago, it was Shebat that first made it look like Texas would lose the meet, then roared back to win it.

On day 2, Shebat led off Texas’s 400 medley relay in prelims. Last season, he was 44.35, putting him 3rd all-time in the event, but this year, he hadn’t been within a second of that time. Texas faithful hoped his disjointed regular season was a red herring that would be forgotten with a big taper swim. On Thursday morning, Shebat led off in 45.60. And Texas took 9th.

That was a massive blow to the Longhorns title hopes. With relay points capped at 18 in an event Texas had won 40 points the past three years, the ‘Horns would fall well off projections. And with Shebat finishing 1.3 seconds off his time from a year ago, Texas looked like it would be losing significant points from expectations in both the 100 and 200 backs.

When we as swimmers have a bad swim at a taper meet, we have two choices. We can accept that the time on the scoreboard is who we are. We can try to explain a missed taper, we can pout, we can soldier on and try to be consistent with our remaining swims despite not having the speed we thought we would.

Or we can refuse to accept that the bad swim is real. We can restart our meet with swim #2, change the narrative, change the tone and prove that we are more than one bad swim.

Shebat chose option 2.

After being left off the 400 medley relay in finals, Shebat returned to swim the 100 back individually, gutting out an inspired morning swim that succeeded on pure gumption. He went out in 21.45, faster than all but one swimmer in the field, and though he visibly struggled coming home, Shebat finished in 45.00, a major improvement over his relay swim.

He would come back in the final to go out even faster – a field-best 21.38 – and hung on for second in 44.58, taking 2nd place, finding redemption and hauling in 17 points for Texas: much closer to the total many had projected for him.

Had Shebat stayed at his medley relay leadoff speed, he would have been 12th in the morning and 14th at night. Instead of 17 points, he would have scored 3, taking 14 away from Texas’s final total.

Texas went on to win the meet by 11.5.

Shebat’s redemption swims are a great reminder for swimmers never to let one bad swim take them off their game for the rest of the meet. It’s also a true testament to the sports cliche that winners never stop fighting. Had Shebat stopped fighting, we’d be analyzing a different national champion this week. And for that, his redemptive 100 back is our Swim of the Week.


There isn’t a second that goes by when the team at blueseventy aren’t thinking about you. How you eat, breathe, train, play, win, lose, suffer and celebrate. How swimming is every part of what makes you tick. Aptly named because 70% of the earth is covered in water, blueseventy is a world leader in the pool and open water. Since 1993, we design, test, refine and craft products using superior materials and revolutionary details that equate to comfort, freedom from restriction and ultimately a competitive advantage in the water. This is where we thrive. There is no substitute and no way around it. We’re all for the swim.

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Swimmer A
4 years ago

meh, Coleman Stewart’s race was better

A non-e mouse
Reply to  Swimmer A
4 years ago

Yes, Coleman Stewart won. The reason Shebat was impressive wasn’t all about time or place, he showed a lot of determination and was the key to Texas winning

Swimmer A
Reply to  A non-e mouse
4 years ago

Lol you missed the joke in there

4 years ago

Nice choice as it did not look good for Texas after day two. Shebat has not looked good all year with his bought with mono over the summer, Eddie working the team to death all fall & winter, and then knee surgery just before conference and NCAA’s. Hope he can stay healthy for now on.

4 years ago

this is a very odd choice.

4 years ago

I feel like after dressel, Finnerty should have gotten a close second for his sub 50..

Reply to  Swammer1
4 years ago

See: Disclaimer

Go Bearcats
Reply to  Swammer1
4 years ago

I feel like Finnerty’s accomplishment was overshadowed.

Reply to  Go Bearcats
4 years ago

The premise of this article is not necessarily the 2nd best swims which certainly Finnerty accomplished, but Shebat coming back to re-boot his meet and being a key to the Texas win.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
4 years ago

Absolutely. After the prelims 400 MR, Texas was in BIG trouble. Not just b/c they finished 9th, but b/c it was looking like Shebat might be headed for either few or zero pts in 2 events he was the favorite in. For him to rally for 34 indv. points was a big turnaround and was a difference-maker for TX.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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