Courtesy: Tom Gordon.
It’s easy to argue that Leon Marchand just had one of the greatest single-meet performances in the history of NCAA swimming. Including relay splits, he swam the fastest time in history in six events in roughly 72 hours.
However, breaking down his splits and comparing his times to some of the fastest of all-time allows us to (again) appreciate just how epic his performance in Minneapolis truly was. Here are eight stats highlighting how far Marchand has distanced himself from the field, both current and past:
1. Leon’s time of 1:36.34 in the 200 IM is only 1.19 seconds slower than the fastest possible add-up in history. This includes any historical split from a 200 IM completed by a swimmer not named “Leon Marchand”:
- Butterfly – 21.09
- Backstroke – 22.98
- Breaststroke – 27.66
- Freestyle – 24.61
- Total – 1:36.34
Fastest Historical Add-Up:
- Butterfly – 20.88 (Shaine Casas – 2020 Art Adamson Invitational)
- Backstroke – 23.79 (Andreas Vazaios – 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships)
- Breaststroke – 27.38 (Reid Mikuta– 2023 SEC Championships)
- Freestyle – 23.10 Destin Lasco (2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships)
- Total – 1:35.15
2. The first 100 of Leon’s 200 IM (44.07) is the fastest split in history by 1.43 seconds. This split would have:
- Qualified him for the ‘B’ final in the 100 freestyle at 2023 NCAA Division II Championships
- Placed fourth overall in the ‘A’ final of the 100 Freestyle at the 2023 NCAA Division III Championships
- Placed top three at three of ASU’s dual meets this season (in the 100 free)
- Placed 27th in the prelims at the 2023 Pac-12 Championships in the 100 free (which would have made the ‘C’ final with scratches)
3. In his 200 IM, Leon’s middle 100 split of 50.64 is the fastest split in history by 1.82 seconds. Staying on this theme, his first 150 split was a remarkable 2.68 seconds faster than the next-best first 150 in history (Caeleb Dressel at the 2018 SEC Championships).
4. Using the same rules as above, Leon’s 3:28.82 in the 400IM is only 1.72 seconds slower than the fastest possible add-up in history:
- Butterfly – 47.10
- Backstroke – 52.20
- Breaststroke – 58.59
- Freestyle – 50.93
- Total – 3:28.82
Fastest Historical Add-Up:
- Butterfly – 48.00 (Hugo Gonzalez – 2023 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships)
- Backstroke – 52.23 (Tyler Clary – 2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships – Prelims)
- Breaststroke – 58.13 (Josh Prenot – 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships)
- Freestyle – 48.74 (Gunnar Bentz – 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Championships)
- Total – 3:27.10
5. The first 200 of Leon’s 400IM was the fastest split in history by 1.25 seconds (Tyler Clary in prelims at 2009 NCAAs). Leon’s next 100 was nearly six seconds faster than Clary’s (58.59 vs. 1:04.81).
6. As a sophomore, Leon now holds seven of the top 10 times in SCY history in the 400 IM. The only other swimmer with seven of the top 10 swims in history is Caeleb Dressel in the 50 freestyle. Leon’s dominance is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that 1) Dressel had up to 4 chances to swim the 50 at a championship meet, due to the 200 freestyle relay, and 2) Marchand has two more years of eligibility.
7. Leon’s 50.65 first 100 of his 200 breaststroke makes him the 9th-fastest performer in history in the 100 breaststroke. (Leon’s official “best time” is 51.01, but don’t forget his 49.23 on the 400 medley relay). Across all 200s of stroke, no other opening 100 split is even close to cracking the top 30 swims of all time in the 100 of that same stroke.
8. Leon’s 400 IM and 200 IM are now 1.94% and 1.83 percent faster, respectively, than the second-fastest performers in history in the event. With Josh Liendo and Youssef Ramadan shaving significant time into Caeleb Dressel’s 100 free and 100 fly margins this past week, Marchand can now lay claim to the two records with the largest marginal difference to the history next-best performer in history:
Event Swimmer Margin to Next-Fastest Performer in History:
- 400 IM – Leon Marchand, 1.94%
- 200 IM – Leon Marchand, 1.83%
- 50 Free – Caeleb Dressel, 1.70%
- 100 Free – Caeleb Dressel, 0.95%
- 200 Breast – Leon Marchand, 0.94%
- 1650 Free – Bobby Finke, 0.72%
Marchand’s performances relative to his peers last week will surely earn him countless superlatives. I can assure you that he deserves every single one of them.
ABOUT TOM GORDON
An unashamed swim nerd, Tom Gordon swam collegiately at Emory University where he was a member the first Emory men’s team to win an NCAA Division III National Championship in 2017. Tom was a 4-time Division III national champion and 19-time All-American in distance freestyle events, and for nearly a decade held the 6 & under 15 yard backstroke team record for his neighborhood swim team, the legendary Lake Park Blue Marlins.
Today, Tom lives in Boulder, CO where he competes in triathlons of various distances for Parrot Endurance, along with the occasional open-water race. Tom lives in a DIII-divided household (his girlfriend Gwynnie swam for Johns Hopkins), which generally does not cause any significant issues given that both schools’ mascots are birds. Outside of athletic endeavors, Tom works full-time as a software engineer and enjoys playing with spreadsheets.
Important note: Tom Gordon is not to be confused with former MLB pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, partial subject of the Stephen King novel The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.
little sus times has this man been tested or is that a perk of working with bob
Marchand’s 200 IM backstroke split was faster than all but 3 100 backstrokers’. And the backstrokers start their split from the feet.
Based on splits, he might be a backstroker in scy. He is probably fastest to 15m on his back, and he carries that speed to the wall easily
A lot of breathless grasping at straws.
What makes Marchand’s performance at NCAAs better than, e.g., Dressel’s in 2018?
After a few days of pondering, they are very similar. Leon did have record times/splits ranging from the 50 breast to a 200 free to a 400 IM, so that makes it hard to say Caleb’s meet was better when his records were 100 and below (yes yes his 200 IM from SECs notwithstanding for this). Then again, his 50 was about a second faster than 2nd.
Lets just say we’ve been able to witness the two best male NCAA performances ever!
Already giving Braden ideas but here’s 2 April fools article titles I thought of:
Leon Marchand announces his intent to change nationalities will take time off from swimming after Paris and represent the US starting in 2027.
LEON MARCHAND SHOCKS THE WORLD!!!! Will begin attempt to be first ever swimmer and diver to medal in Paris to prove it’s possible to do!
I was thinking this last night: “US Military invades Toulouse to force Leon Marchand to represent the US in Paris 2024”
This is my favorite swimswam article ever posted
at the 2017 NCAA’s, Gunnar Benz split 48.74 on the freestyle leg of his 400 IM
edit: I see that this was mentioned by a few others commenters
The 2IM stats got me thinking about how Douglass would compare – at a quick glance I can’t find anyone who’s out split her on free and she’s the only person with a faster fly split than herself, she looks to be .73 slower than the fastest possible add up. Feel free to pop in with corrections if there’s any random stellar splits I’ve missed, what I found in a quick search was:
Fly: 23.37 (Douglass, 2020 UT Double Dual), haven’t found any other splits faster than her 23.51 at 2023 NCAAs
Back: 27.07 (Eastin, 2019 NCAAs), Seidt, Baker, Franklin, and Douglass (2020 ACCs) are the others I’ve found faster than her 27.40 this year
Breast: 31.12 (Leverenz,… Read more »
Check Sean grieshops 100 free split from 2019 nc’s