Erika Brown Swims Lifetime Best 50 Free on Day 2 of Bulldog Grand Slam


  • July 6th-8th, 2018
  • Garbielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia
  • Psych Sheet
  • Meet Site
  • Results on Meet Mobile “2018 Bulldog Grand Slam”

After swimming lifetime bests in both the 100 fly (58.48) and 400 IM (4:39.04) on Friday to start the Bulldog Grand Slam, and another best time in the 400 free (4:06.72) on Saturday morning, Georgia post-grad Hali Flickinger on Saturday evening took on the race that put her on the 2016 Olympic team: the 200 fly.

There was no lifetime best, but she did pick up a 2nd event win of the meet with a 2:08.48 in finals, which was slower than her 2:07.88 in prelims (which is her best in-season swim, for what it’s worth).

Flickinger is having almost as good of a pre-championship meet as one could imagine for her, with only hiccup being that in the two of her four events that she hasn’t scratched the finals for, she’s added time in the evening session. But, that’s nothing that a few weeks of taper shouldn’t take care of as she prepare for U.S. Nationals at the end of this month.

She wasn’t the only swimmer putting out lifetime bests on Saturday. Tennessee undergrad Erika Brown, who was the breakout star of the 2018 women’s NCAA season, won the women’s 50 free on Saturday night in a new lifetime best of 25.17. Given her collegiate drops, in-season best times aren’t a surprise for Brown. The result is more stunning when stacked up on the fact that she’s now swum her lifetime best in this event 4 times in the last 7 weeks, when she previously hadn’t gone a lifetime best since Winter Juniors in 2015 (26.01).

Brown now ranks 8th among Americans in the 50 free in 2018.

Ranking 2nd behind her was 15-year old Grtchen Walsh in 25.61, which was .15 seconds away from her personal best (that she did in early June).

Brown would later swim another personal best of 1:00.96 in the 100 backstroke, beating the 1:02.36 that she swam 3 weeks ago. That is another event in which she waited a long time for a personal best: before June 15th of this year, her previous best time was a 1:04.7, from 2013.

Another Walsh sister, the elder Alex Walsh, was 2nd in this event in 1:01.32.

Other Day 2 Winners:

  • Auburn’s Santiago Grassi won the men’s 200 fly in 2:00.21. That’s a new lifetime best for a swimmer better-known for his sprint abilities: he’s the Argentine Record holder in the 100 fly.
  • Tennessee’s Kyle Decoursey won the men’s 50 free in 22.68. He’s another swimmer who has already gone a lifetime best this summer, which was a 22.41 from the TNAQ June Invite, but outside of that his best time coming into the year was a similar 22.6.
  • Micah Sumrall, the 2012 Olympian formerly known as Micah Lawrence, won the women’s 200 breaststroke in 2:27.21. The best time of her comeback is a 2:26.1 from the Atlanta Classic in May. She’s now representing Chattahoochee Gold in Georgia, a team for which she’s an assistant coach. 16-year old Nashville Aquatic Club swimmer Ella Nelson took 2nd in 2:28.14.
  • Georgia post-grad Nic Fink won the men’s 200 breaststroke going-away in 2:13.67, which put him almost 5 seconds clear of the field. He also won the 100 breaststroke on Friday (1:01.4).
  • Canadian National and Georgia undergrad Javier Acevedo won the men’s 100 backstroke in 54.68. His target meet, the Canadian Swimming Trials, run from July 18th-22nd, which means he’s a week closer to his taper event than are most of his Georgia teammates. He’a already about a second away from his lifetime best in the 100 back, which was done at last year’s World Championship trials. Acevedo swam on both Canadian mixed relays at the 2017 World Championships, which meant two bronze medals.
  • After Flickinger scratched from the final, that left Tennessee undergrad Amanda Nunan to win the women’s 400 free easily in 4:12.70. That’s yet another swimmer with a new lifetime best on Saturday, improving upon the 4:14.2 that she swam at the Atlanta Classic in May. In yards, Nunan’s best event is the mile, and she’s still scheduled to swim the 800 on Sunday, where her last lifetime best of 8:42 came in 2014. Given her drop in the 400, and the 2:05-2:07 splitting, she’s due for one in the 800 as well.
  • Walker Higgins won his first race of the meet, topping the men’s 400 free in 3:53.11 to finish the session. He charged out hard to a 26.6 opening 50 and 55.78 first 100 meters, which is faster than his first 100 split from the B-Final at Nationals last year, he was unable to hold that pace through the middle 200 meters, but still had enough to split 57.8 on his last 100.

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Did she swim it fly?




No, flying😃

Gordon Wheeler Superfan

Cam Auerbach went a best time in the 50 free too! In both prelims AND finals! Way to go Cam! Would love to see some more recognition for the slower guys 🙂


I think what you mean is “I would love to see more recognition for my kid/swimmer/friend”.


Still awaiting rational explanation as to how E. Brown went from 81st fastest 18 year-old in 100 Fly to 2nd place at NCAAs the following year.


Why don’t you try and do some homework yourself? Come back and share your findings


Swimswam’s summer preview issue (pp. 136-137) actually has an interesting article and a graph showing Erica Brown’s 100 Fly SCY times as 55.94 (age 16), 56.89 (age 17), 55.12 (age 18, first college year) with the huge drop down to 49.85 at age 19. The author compares her time drop to other swimmers and writes that “Her story is not typical.” I agree with Dumar that an explanation is needed for this atypicality.


Exhibit A. Jack Conger. Exhibit B. Beatta Nelson. One was definitely not a known butterflyer out of high school. The other struggled freshman year also and crushed it as a Soph. Like Keith said below Brown was already there with her 2:00 free but she just didn’t translate it to other events yet and combine that with underwaters that get developed at college and i don’t think her performance is that unusual but if you just wanna accuse her of doping just say it don’t beat around the bush with your vague comments.


Don’t think we should be comparing times in a vacuum without context. Consider number of times competed and swam in the fly vs. freestyle. Wasn’t that her only fly time as an 18 year old? I think if comparable dramatic improvement rates were also seen in her freestyle it would be more evidential. A lot of this is just indicative of a swimmer re-channeling and locking on to another event.


Fly had never been her pedigree, free was. She rarely swam fly. She pretty much swam exclusively freestyle as a freshman. Before college she was a member of the US JR national team, finishing 3rd at Jr Nationals two years in a row in the 200 free (PB of 2:00.29 in 2014 at 15). She clearly showed she had talent and demonstrated promise at a young age. She did seem to regress as a freshman at Tennessee but she battled recurring sinus infections most the year. Anyway, I don’t side eye her fly improvements like you, as she swam it seldomly and didn’t invest much in the discipline until recently, it’s very much a discovery event for her.


The USA Swimming database shows that E. Brown swam the 100 Fly SCY at least 30 times between the ages of 13-17 and the 100 Fly LCM at least 20 times during that same period, so it was certainly part of her “pedigree”. She jumped an unprecedented 230 power points in the 100 Fly SCY in this latest season, and went from 81st in her age 18 category to 2nd in the NCAA. She went from being just inside the Top 50 in the NCAA her freshman year to nearly winning the event, and broke Olympian Christine Magnuson’s 2008 fly record at TN. So it is worthy of a “side eye” glance.


Mallory Comerford. Best time at age 16 1:01.8 Erika Brown was 1:02.4 at 16. That would be her last time she swam it at a championship meet prior to last season so that is your last accurate comparison. Two swimmers on similar time progressions. I don’t see the difference. Explain to me the difference in their progressions. Comerford can break 58 now and Brown will probably be right behind her in two weeks.

A couple more late fly developers: Katie Drabot and how about Leah Smith what was her ranking last summer?

Double Arm Freestyle

Looking from 2011-2016, Erika Brown swam (in SCY) the 100 Fly 30 times, 100 Back 42 times, 100 Free 46 times, 50 Free 38 times, and the 200 Free 52 times. By your own standard, this clearly shows the 100 Fly was never her focus.


She is talented, has great coaching and was healthy this year. Bada Bing there it is.

bobo gigi
bobo gigi

Not yet the same kind of progression in long course so far but let’s see her tapered in Irvine.
Before this year her last 100 fly in long course was in March 2016 in 1.03.39. At the same meet she also swam the 100 fly in yards in 56.89.
This year 49.85 in SCY so if swimming is logical (not always) she will also improve her LCM time of that meet by 7.04 seconds and will go 56.35 this summer! 😆 😆
Of course it will not happen as she’s a much better SCY swimmer but let’s see how fast she can go. 58 low would be a great start in my opinion.


She doesn’t say that in the video. Watch the video. She may be happy because she dropped time, but she doesn’t say that happiness is the reason for the drop. If happiness and good coaching were the reasons, you would see her teammates and a lot of college freshman and sophomores dropping equivalent time. Drabot and Smith are not good comparables at all–there is a big difference between starting a new event (Smith, Drabot) versus having a baseline in an event and dropping 6 seconds in a year as compared to your four years of multiple (thirty or more) previous swims in a 100 yard event (Brown).


Not sure if it’s really a proper baseline if your training is not geared toward it and you rarely if ever swim it tapered.


Most of us can probably agree that a 2:00.29 is a very fast time for a 15/16 year old junior swimmer. Most of us can also agree that freestyle has been a bread and butter event for Erika throughout her young swimming career. So my question to those that suspect or infer doping is why isn’t she dropping the same amount of time in her freestyle? Are there magic doping elixirs that work primarily on certain disciplines over others?


Hali Flickinger at 16. 1:02.3. At 17 1:01:8. Now does 58:48 Burchill did a 59.2 at 16 and 4 years later she finally beat it. Kelsi Dahlia at 16 1:04.8 at 18. 59.2. Explain that one. Amanda Kendall at 16 1:04.4 now does a 59. Should I find more? Brown has only dropped 3seconds from her last LCM taper swim at 16 which was a 1:02.4. You can’t compare any of those yard swims as she wasn’t rested. Interestingly she looked like she had more promise in the backstroke at 14-15 when she did a 54 at jr nats. She only swam the 100 fly scy 10 times in 3 years from 16-18 and it was 5x/16 3x/17 and 2x/18… Read more »


Amanda Kendall just served a three-month suspension for misuse of an inhaler. Your examples of Hali Flickinger (who is 24 years old and took eight years to drop 3.5 secs in long course) and Burchill’s times just show how unusual a six second drop in one year is.


Most would probably agree that a 2:00.29 in the 200 free is quite impressive for a 15/16 year old JR swimmer. And we can agree that freestyle has always been a bread and butter discipline throughout her career. My question then would be why hasn’t she shown the same corresponding dramatic improvements in freestyle that she has in butterfly?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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