Magnussen’s 47.7 ties him for most sub-48 swims in history

When Australia’s James Magnussen went 47.73 put his name atop the 100 free standings on the first night of the Victorian State Championships, he also moved to number one on a bigger list. Magnussen’s 47.7 was the 12th time in his career he’s been under 48 seconds, tying frenchman Alain Bernard for the most sub-48 swims, according to numbers compiled by BestSwimming.

What makes Magnussen’s achievement arguably more impressive than Bernard’s, though, is that all twelve of Magnussen’s 47s have come in textile suits, while Bernard swam all of his sub-48-second 100s between 2008 and 2009 in the buoyant tech suits now banned by FINA.

Only two swimmers have ever been under 47 – the two being Bernard and World Record-holder Cesar Cielo. Both were done in 2009 at the very peak of the bodysuit era, and in fact Bernard’s 46.94 was never admissible as a world record because his suit wasn’t approved by FINA. It ended up not mattering for World Record standing when Cielo went 46.91 a few months later at the World Championships in Rome.

Cielo sits third on the all-time sub-48 list behind Magnussen and Bernard with 11 swims under the mark, and two of his were done after the tech suits were banned.

Still, Magnussen’s historic swim adds more and more excitement to the future of male sprinting. The Australian appears far from done breaking the 48-barrier, finding a new spark recently after a disappointing 2012 season. It sure appears Magnussen will have plenty opportunities over the next several years to put himself well ahead of Bernard’s 12 sub-48 swims, and without doubt, the swimming community is waiting with bated breath to see if one of those swims might indeed be the first-ever textile 46.

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I get the impression that Magnussen will be one of those guys that can’t swim their best at the Olympics.


My eyebrows literally raised when I first saw the 47.7 for Mags in the initial headline, as I can’t remember the last time we saw a 47 in January. Also, that is damn impressive that he did all 12 of his swims in textile whereas 0 of Bernard’s, and only 2 of Cielo’s 11, were in textile. You really can’t compare those other two swimmers with him at all. Rich, you could be right, as he definitely had mental lapses at his first Olympics. However, those lapses were associated in time with some very immature behavior including complex group behavior instead of just your garden-variety case of nerves. He has a good chance to correct that thinking and behavior and… Read more »

Justin Thompson

The time is impressive, the number of times under 48 without a body suit is amazing, but in that 100m freestyle final anything can happen. There isn’t much room for error or an off race and that is what makes it so exciting. Usually there are 3 or 4 who could legitimately win it.

I don’t think maggy coming up short a few times is mental as much as he didn’t have his best swim when it counted the most. He’s no doubt consistently swimming fast throughout the year, but outside the 50m free take another race and there’s more flexibility for mistakes and making up for them.

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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