Blueseventy Swim of the Week: American Sprinting Is Back At Universiade

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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.

In 2015, there was a race among swimming fans to declare the death of American male sprinting. But we’re discovering in 2017 that like Mark Twain’s, reports of the American demise were greatly exaggerated.

Of course there’s Caeleb Dressel, the versatile sprint superstar who tore through the World Championships this summer to sweep the sprint freestyles. But even outside the World Championships level, the wealth of American depth in the sprints is showing through.

At World University Games, the men’s 4×100 free relay showed remarkable improvement from the 2015 season, which had many concerned about the viability of America’s next generation of sprinters.

At the 2015 World Championships, the American 4×100 free relay missed the final entirely, a major disappointment for a nation more often winning relays than missing finals. That season, there were only 5 Americans under 49 seconds and none under 48. And of the five, three were very unproven youngsters (18-year-old Dressel who swam outside of the limelight at U.S. Nats instead of Worlds, 17-year-old Maxime Rooney and 20-year-old Michael Chadwick, who came up with his swim at a Speedo Sectional meet).

This season, World University Games champ Ryan Held would be the second-fastest of any American in 2015, behind only Nathan Adrian. Held was 48.50 to win the event in Taipei, and wasn’t even fast enough to make the American World Championships team.

Where 48s were extremely rare in 2015, in 2017 the American 4×100 free relay at World University Games almost had straight 48-second splits, and that’s our featured Swim of the Week. Held was 48.2 on his split, and Justin Lynch anchored in 48.6. Meanwhile budding star Justin Ress was a blazing 48.0, and Rooney led off in 49.02.

That relay was 1.8 seconds faster than its 2015 iteration at World University Games, a relay which got an absurd 47.7 from Jack Conger but was otherwise slower across the board.

Compared to the five swimmers under 49 in 2015, Team USA has nine swimmers under that barrier in 2017, including two cracking 48 from a flat start (Dressel and Adrian). That’s living proof that the American sprint corps has responded in a big way to the call for bigger international production at all levels of competition.

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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