David Nolan Cracks Two Minutes In 200 IM For First Time In Career


A stud coming out of high school, American David Nolan had a tremendous four year career for the Stanford Cardinal, including three NCAA titles and eight other top-3 finishes at what has been dubbed the fastest meet on Earth. Two of Nolan’s three NCAA titles came in the 200 IM, including his swim of 1:39.38 at the 2015 Championships as a senior, becoming the first man under 1:40 in history and setting a new American and NCAA record. Nolan’s other two wins came as a sophomore in 2013, winning the 200 IM and 100 back.

Despite all of the short course success and promise, Nolan has historically had trouble translating those swims to long course. Nolan established a personal best of 2:00.61 in the 200 IM at the 2010 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, over a year before he started college. He got that down to 2:00.35 in 2013, but never cracked the two minute barrier while in college. Despite his dominance in short course, Nolan never made a national ‘A’ final until after graduating, cracking the top-8 in both the 100 free and 100 fly in San Antonio last summer (he scratched the 200 IM after qualifying for the 100 free final).

After those Nationals Nolan announced he was making the move to Tempe to train with Bob Bowman in the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Trials, giving him the benefit of ten months of training with IM juggernauts Michael Phelps and Chase Kalisz. Nolan scored a personal best in the 200 IM at the Winter Nationals in December at 2:00.15, but was still chasing that elusive barrier.

Competing at the Longhorn Elite Invite this weekend in Austin, Nolan put up a sluggish 200 IM prelim time of 2:06.22, placing him 9th and out of the ‘A’ final. Phelps, who finished 5th in prelims, scratched the final, moving Nolan into the ‘A’ final.

In the final Nolan exploded, taking the lead from the get-go and never relinquishing it, winning in a new personal best of 1:59.40. 2016 NCAA 200 IM champion Will Licon (who was also runner-up to Nolan in 2015) finished 2nd in 2:00.41 after putting up the top time in prelims.

Nolan established a big lead on the first 100 going out in 55.40, a lead so big that Licon making up over two and a half seconds on the breaststroke leg was still not enough to catch him, and they split fairly evenly on the freestyle giving Nolan the win by 1.01 seconds.

Here’s a comparative look at Nolan’s splits from his old best time set at the 2015 Winter Nationals and his new best time established tonight in Austin:

  • 2015 Winter Nationals, Federal Way: 26.10 / 57.11 (31.01) / 1:30.92 (33.81) / 2:00.15 (29.23)
  • 2016 Longhorn Elite Invite, Austin: 25.33 / 55.40 (30.07) / 1:30.68 (35.28) / 1:59.40 (28.72)

Nolan was much more aggressive going out in the race in Austin, paying the price a bit on the breaststroke but was still able to come home strong on the free. Once fully tapered at Olympic Trials Nolan should be able to shore up his breaststroke split back down into the 33 second range.

Nolan also competed in the 100 free, 200 free, and 100 fly this weekend, likely the same four events he’ll swim in Omaha.

Nolan now ranks as the fourth fastest American in 2016, behind only Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Kalisz.





In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
bobo gigi
7 years ago

Looks like he has broken a world record.

7 years ago

Big fan of this kid, really hope he can pull it all together and turn some heads at Trials. If he can fully translate his short course swims to the big pool….watch out.

7 years ago

Ive said it before, Nolan needs to go 1.57 low at trials, realisticly he’s third, makes world short course team (Phelps retires) and then his real senior team career starts.
Hopefully then be a mainstay for 2016-2020.
After the weekend, I think he has a very small chance now (before the weekend no chance) of making 4×100. If he makes the final you just never know.
I’ve heard rumours on this site this could be his last season, be a shame as Phelps, lochte, Ervin, grevers, clary all swimmers who have kept him of the team in some event are more than likely on there final swansongs or have reached there limits I would say.
If… Read more »

Reply to  Skoorbnagol
7 years ago

I totally agree. I have always loved to watch Nolan race and think he is one of the most versatile and surprising swimmers to watch. Could anyone else in history have split 18.3 / 41.5 / 1:31.8 free, 51.2 breast, 44.7 back in the same meet? How many other swimmers could likely make A-final at NCAAs in 7-8 different events if they chose to race them, maybe more? As a fellow IM swimmer of the same age, albeit at a much lower level in the sport, I found his swimming to be inspirational of sorts – I had so much fun watching him flex his versatility and surprise his competitors and probably even himself in “off” events throughout his career,… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »