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.
Looking back, 2011 signaled a historic shift in American swimming.
While it wasn’t an Olympic year, this shift is one that happened at a much younger, less-publicized level, but perhaps one even more important to the longevity of U.S. dominance of the sport.
2011 was the season David Nolan broke national high school records in eye-popping times. Those following swimming during that year will remember the oft-repeated stats, most notably, where Nolan would have placed at the men’s NCAA Championships with his times. (1st in the 200 IM, 3rd in the 100 back).
At the time, it was astounding that a high school swimmer could compete with the NCAA’s best. But that, of course, was before USA Swimming’s greatest age group generation of all-time starting making its way to the high school level. In fact, Nolan’s records in many ways signified the beginning of an era – an era of absurdly fast age group and high school swimmers that would continue with the first-ever 18-second high school sprinter (Caeleb Dressel), American record-setting pre-collegiate swimmers (Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Abbey Weitzeil) and now, the man who very nearly took down Nolan’s public high school record: Michael Taylor.
Last week, Taylor went 45.53 to win Georgia’s state 100 backstroke title. That’s the closest anyone has come to Nolan’s national public high school record, and sits third all-time for high school swimmers behind private school record-holder Ryan Murphy (45.34) and Nolan.
Taylor’s massive swim epitomizes an era of unprecedently-fast age group and high school swimming. It’s telling that Taylor – a junior world record-holder – was only ranked the #5 recruit in his class last summer. Fast swimming at the high school level has become a regular occurrence.
But with that 45.53 (plus his 1:35.16 in the 200 free), Taylor should leap way up that list – something we somewhat projected at the time due to his explosion in summer season. The future Florida Gator is proving that he’s one of the most valuable talents of the entire class of 2017.
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