Blueseventy Swim of the Week: Plummer Quietly Dominating US 100 Back


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.

Pop quiz: who is officially the fastest American 100 backstroker since the end of the 2012 Olympics?

If you answered 2012 Olympic and 2013 world champ Matt Grevers, you wouldn’t be alone. Same goes for NCAA star Ryan Murphy.

But the correct answer is David Plummerwho at age 30 is still flying under the radar despite sitting #2 in this season’s world ranks, and first among Americans.

In fact, Plummer officially holds not just the fastest, but the two fastest American 100 back swims since September of 2012 – and they’ve both come within the past 8 months.

The most recent was last weekend, when Plummer established a new lifetime-best of 52.40 to win the Arena Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis.

The University of Minnesota alum has broken 53 on 5 separate occasions in his career, and four of them have come since last November. He was a lifetime-best 52.51 at a World Cup meet in late 2015 before bettering that time in Indy last weekend.

The men’s 100 back should be one of the most hotly-contested races at U.S. Olympic Trials, with 3 of the top 4 swimmers in the 2015-2016 world rankings all hailing from the United States. Grevers has consistency, with 16 career swims in the 52s. And Murphy has upside: he went 52.18 in leading off the mixed medley relay at Worlds last summer, though mixed relay leadoffs don’t count for official world rankings and Murphy hasn’t been faster than 52.5 since.

Long hidden in their media shadow has been Plummer, who may very well be the best kept secret in American swimming right now. But if he continues improving his career bests and leading all challengers in the powerhouse American backstroking dynasty, Plummer’s name won’t be such a secret for much longer.

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Tom from Chicago

I am very conflicted about this race. I am a big fan of these big 3. It is going to suck that one of them won’t make the team, but that is what makes the Olympics so compelling.


But despite that very sad news that one of them will be staying at home , the 2 others will be seriously well representing the Usa on the 100 back . Hard to see who will go through – Plummer feels to be the favorite to me at this point all the while i love the 2 other Super stars of Us backstroke .


Let’s get something straight here guys, I think we could easily see all three of these guys going to Rio. Just not all 3 in the 100 backstroke. I think Murphy has a great shot at making the 200 back. I could see Plummer and grevers both make it in the 100 back and Murphy make it in the 200 back (or grevers on the 4×100 free). And to be honest, I’m not entirely ruling grevers out of the 200 back either…or Murphy in the 4×100 free for that matter.

Coach Mike 1952

We can’t deny that Ryan M went 52.18 last year, even if not “official” for rankings. The time is the time. Let’s see if he can reproduce or better it this year. And congratulations to David for an awesome swim with really no one to push him either.

Irish Ringer

We also can’t deny he went a 53.05 lead off on the 4×100 and damn near cost the US the race as Larkin was 52.41 and Lacourt 52.81 on the lead off.

I think the big difference this year is he’ll be more consistent. We’ve already seen a 52.57 and 52.76 from him in recent months.


It was his biggest international meet. Especially as a member of Team USA, that’s basically the tallest order in the swimming world. I wouldn’t be so hard on the kid. He’s absolutely dominated SCY and you can’t fake a 52.18 in LCM. The consistency will come with the experience, and his youth will definitely bring the speed.

Throw in Dave Durden’s coaching and Adrian/Shield’s mentorship, Murphy is going to be ready for this summer.


Yes, it’s stupid that they don’t put that at a real time. I think it’s going to be the toughest event at Trials. Murphy, Grevers, and Plummer will be at their best.


Plummer is such a beast and unappreciated swimmer. Real understated guy who has just kept working and getting better. Really hopes he gets a chance to swim for usa in an Olympics. It’s so tough with those three. All great guys who carry themselves with great humility. I’ve got to bet on brevets getting a spot though. Too much experience in these situations and he has the reach on that last stroke.

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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