Dolfin Swim of the Week: Weissmuller’s 200 Free WR From 1922

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.

We’re going way back for this week’s Swim of the Week – to one of the greatest swimmers in history.

Though meet results back to 1922 are understandably sparse, swimming hero Johnny Weissmuller is credited with breaking his first long course meters world record on May 26 of 1922 – 98 years ago today.

Weissmuller was just 17 years old at the time, and a complete newcomer to the sport of high-level competitive swimming. He debuted in AAU competition in 1921, and by 1922, smashed a world record in the 200-meter freestyle with a 2:15.6 in Honolulu.

Later that summer, Weissmuller became the first man in history to break a minute in the 100-meter freestyle, going 58.6 and taking almost two full seconds off of Duke Kahanamoku‘s standing world record. Weissmuller would hold that 100 free world record until 1934. His 200 free record would stand until 1935.

Over Weissmuller’s legendary career, it is widely reported that he never lost a single freestyle race.

Weissmuller would swim in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics. He also competed for the U.S. water polo team in those two Olympic Games. In 1929, he turned professional, and would later star as Tarzan in a dozen films, becoming an icon in both sport and entertainment.

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JCO

While the sport is in a completely different place today than it was then, imagine the swimswam comment section and reactions of professional swimmers if some 17 year old today broke a WR after only 1 year of competitive swimming. It would never happen, but I think it would be interesting to see the worldwide response

Olympian

Imagine if he was from one of these countries full of doping cases…

Eugene

Does anybody have a video? Split times?

James

The most impressive part about these records is they were done with his head out of the water. The thought at the time was that “hydroplaning” was the fastest way through the water. I believe JW got down to a 55 or 56. I would challenge any swimmer to try and go that time in this style with no underwaters and a full body cloth suit lol

Corn Pop

His head was high but if he lowered it , he was the buoyant type where the water would only reach the hairline. He has a mesmerising stroke still & the ultimate open water swimmer .

AfterShock

He swimmed with his head out of the water because he couldn’t find a pair of goggles that fit properly.

DLswim

Also swam in wool suit and no real lanelines.

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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