Disclaimer: Dolfin 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 Dolfin 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.
As we’ve said with all of these early-season NCAA highlight swims: the usual disclaimers apply. Sure, Virginia was indeed suited up for the Trojan Invite. Yes, there aren’t yet many times in the NCAA ranks to compare to. Of course October swims don’t make any guarantees of postseason success.
But that doesn’t change how fast Paige Madden was last weekend.
The UVA junior blasted an NCAA-leading 4:38.67 in the 500 free. That’s the fastest time in the nation this season by 8.6 seconds. Madden is the first swimmer under 4:40 this season. She’s also the first under 4:45.
Her time compares very favorably to previous early-season standouts, too. Last year at this time, the nation-leading 500 was a 4:48.4. The year before, it was a 4:46.3. The year before that, a 4:44.9.
And for Madden, it’s a huge surge from where she’s been her past two seasons in October. In fact, it’s a half-second faster than she went at Virginia’s mid-season rest meet last season, the Georgia Invite in late November. Here’s a look at her top times from two previous collegiate seasons:
Paige Madden Top 500y free Times In Regular Season, Mid-Season Rest, Post-Season
|College Freshman (’17-’18)||College Sophomore (’18-’19)||College Junior (’19-’20)|
|Mid-Season Rest (Nov/Dec)||4:45.03||4:39.19|
Madden was able to drop more than six seconds from mid-season to the post-season last year. The year before that, she dropped more than five. If history is any indicator, Madden is set up extremely well for a great 500 free swim later on this college season.
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