Gold Medalist Ryan Held Swims Best Time of 21.62 in 50 Free in Birmingham

2021 BSL Iron City Invite

  • April 10-11, 2021
  • Birmingham Crossplex, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Long Course Meters (50 meters)
  • Timed Finals
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “2021 BSL Iron City Invite”

While most of the top U.S.-based swimmers are racing in congregations in either North Carolina or California this weekend, two of the best males are racing at the Birmingham Swim League Iron City Invite in Birmingham, Alabama.

That includes Olympic gold medalist Ryan Held, who won both the 50 free and the 200 free on Saturday.

In the 50 free, specifically, he swam 21.62. That’s a lifetime best for him by .25 seconds, clearing the time he swam at Summer Nationals in 2019. That was Held’s peak meet that year, after missing the World Championships team. At that meet, he was also a lifetime best of 47.39 in the 100 free, and he’s due to swim the 100 free on Sunday in Birmingham.

That swim for Held in the 50 free ties him as the 2nd-fastest American in the Olympic Trials qualifying period, which opened on November 28, 2018: it matches the 21.62 that Michael Andrew swam at Worlds in 2019.

Fastest Americans, U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifying Period, Men’s 50 LCM Free

  1. Caeleb Dressel – 21.04
  2. (TIE) Michael Andrew/Ryan Held – 21.62
  3. Zach Apple – 21.81
  4. Nathan Adrian – 21.87
  5. David Curtiss – 21.87
  6. Michael Chadwick – 21.95
  7. Bowe Becker – 22.00
  8. Blake Pieroni – 22.03
  9. Erik Risolvato – 22.13

Among that group, only the teenager Curtiss and Held have done those swims since 2019.

Held swam that 50 free as his 2nd race of the day after also marking a lifetime best of 1:49.12 in the 200 free. That undercuts his previous best time by .37 seconds. Though this isn’t a race he’s likely to swim at the Olympic Trials, this all adds up to a mountain of anticipation for his Sunday swim in the 100 free.

He’s also scheduled to swim the 100 fly on Sunday, after the 100 free, where he has a lifetime best of 52.15.

While the meet was mostly local age group and high school swimmers, Held wasn’t racing alone in that 50 free. The runner-up in the event was Ali Khalafalla in 21.94. That shaved .03 seconds off his previous best time and Egyptian Record done at the 2018 Mediterranean Games.

University of Alabama freshman standout Matt King swam a lifetime best of 22.56 for 3rd place. Andrew Shea was 4th in 22.57, and Erik Risolvato, who is 10th on the list above, was 5th in 22.94.

Held was part of the post-grad training group at the University of Alabama under former head coach Coley Stickels. Since Stickels left that position mid-season in December under controversy, two of the most prominent members of the group, Margo Geer and Ian Finnerty, have retired. He and Khalafalla are currently training with Stickels still in Tuscaloosa, though not at University of Alabama facilities.

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3 years ago

I like Dressel winning in 21.3, with Ryan Held taking second, edging out Micheal Andrew, with a 21.4. He just had a 21.6 a few weeks ago.

3 years ago

I would be very stranged if he didnt swim 47 something today, but at the same time I dont want to be overexcited.

3 years ago

Brace for a 47something

3 years ago

75 percent taper, things you learn while reading commentariat.

3 years ago

“Since Coley left” 😂

3 years ago

We could be in for a treat in the 100 tomorrow

Reply to  GATOR CHOMP 🐊
3 years ago

Will challenge Kolesnikov’s top time in the world of 47.31

3 years ago

Held and Ali didn’t taper for this meet.

3 years ago

That 50 swim is definitely Blanton’s worthy!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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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