HardCore Swim of the Week: Nathan Adrian, the man who can outswim the touchpads

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You might’ve heard about this week’s HardCore Swim, as it highlighted one of the oddities of a sport still adjusting to the fan spotlight that keeps consistently growing.

Nathan Adrian‘s 100 freestyle at Masters Nationals was originally reported as an American record, then revised to be actually .05 slower by meet organizers, taking away its American record status.

It appears a timing malfunction was to blame for the errant time. In an odd quirk, Adrian was simply too fast for the meet’s timing system to keep up with. The touchpads were set for a 20-second delay to allow athletes to exit the pool, as the Masters meet was run with flyover starts.

But Adrian is one of a pretty elite company of men who can actually take out their 100 free in a sub-20 second split. When he turned, the touchpad wasn’t armed yet, and the mix-up appears to have caused the timing system to suspect a pad malfunction and immediately switch to backup times. The average of the backup timers was 41.08, tying Adrian’s own American record from 2009, but in hindsight, the results had to be amended to include the actual touchpad time of 41.13, which was the official time.

That convoluted explanation aside, there’s still a strain of thought within the swimming community that Adrian’s swim at Masters Nationals was the most impressive 100-yard freestyle in American history, even if it didn’t break the record.

Consider that Adrian’s American record swim was done in 2009 in a now-illegal super-suit, at the fast Texas A&M facility in College Station. Adrian was just .05 off of that mark in a jammer, outdoors – and to top it all off, Adrian is still months away from his taper and shave meet, as opposed to 2009, when he was fully primed for the NCAA Championships.

For Adrian to be swimming this well, this early in the season is a great sign for the U.S. in terms of international competition, where it looks like it will take another superb effort from the Cal grad to win international gold like he did at the London Olympics.

But most of all, this swim is “HardCore” because it shows the fantastic improvement Adrian has made from his college days, in that he can go nearly the same time mid-season as he did at his absolute collegiate peak. In a sport where for a long time, college graduation has led to retirement for so many talented athletes, a swim like Adrian’s is nothing if not a welcome sign.

Meet coverage here.

Race video here.

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7 years ago

Ah, now I finally understand. The way this was explained before made no sense. Thank you for the clarification.

7 years ago

I’m not entirely sure how it all works, but why cut it as close as 20 seconds? You know you have some elite swimmers that might come close…at least a few other guys probably split 21s. Why not 15 seconds?

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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