Michael Phelps vs Tom Shields in 100 Butterfly: Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com


Tom Shields‘ stock is on the rise. Finally.

Tom Shields wins 100 butterfly at 2014 US Nationals (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

Tom Shields wins 100 butterfly at 2014 US Nationals (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

College swimming fans knew Shields had the talent to pop in meters, but he left many disappointed after missing the 2013 US World Championship Team.  Early this summer, 2014, Shields was feeling the stress. Plagued by sickness he swam a 2:09 200m butterfly at the Mesa Grand Prix, then quietly confided (off-camera) that swimming may not be his future, that success in meters might remain elusive. Shields quickly recovered, tying Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly at the Santa Clara Grand Prix.

However, most swim fans picks to win 100m butterfly at US Nationals went to Phelps, especially after his 51.6 at the Bulldog Grand Slam in mid-July. Shields wasn’t really on the radar at that point. Ryan Lochte, who beat Phelps at the Mesa Grand Prix in the 100m fly — Phelps first race back from retirement — seemed a more likely challenger.

Shields made many swim fans reconsider their faith in him in the 100m fly after his 200m fly win at US Nationals, 1:55.09. For 175 meters that race was pure perfection, pure beautly, until his last 25 meters, a brutal, short-armed, face-stressing mess.  (Makes me wonder if Shields’ is 3 month of butterfly background away from ripping a 1:52-53 200m fly…)

Tim Phillips, SwimMAC, 3rd in the 100m fly at US Nationals (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

Tim Phillips, SwimMAC, 3rd in the 100m fly at US Nationals (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures)

US Nationals 100m fly was a mixed bag, though dramatically entertaining. Phelps delivered a prelims swim fastest enough to win gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games. That night in the finals, Tim Phillips, a speed demon worthy of everyone’s fear, shot out of the cannon and into the lead at the 50, touching in 23.92. Shields made it to the wall with a relaxed 24.25. Phelps scrambled, rushing his stroke,  touching in 24.49. Phelps was 7th. He looked terrible, not like the guy we’d witnessed throughout the Grand Prix season, a guy who might be focusing more on his raw power and speed.

Shields won the 100m fly final  by .o1 with a 51.29. Phelps was second in 51.30. Phillips captured third in 51.54. Shields nearly dislocated his shoulder in celebration, one of the best moments of the meet. Phelps’ face tightend as he nodded his congratulations.

Pan Pac Predictions:

Phelps needs to find more easy speed to hit his sub 51 second 100 fly at Pan Pacs. Yes, he’s got that sub 26.5 50 coming home, but he needs to be 24.1 out.  I’m sticking with my prediction from earlier this summer. Though it’s a stretch, I think Phelps has a 50.49 in him right now.

Shields? I’d like to see Shields go sub 51 in Australia. I’m picking him for silver, but I think he’s threat for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Moreover, I think the 100 butterfly could be the most competitive event at the 2016 US Olympic Trials in Omaha with Phillips coming on strong, Lochte healthy and focused, and Matt Ellis quietly perched to disrupt them all.

What are your predictions for the 100m butterfly at Pan Pacs and beyond? 

Follow Michael Phelps on Twitter here.

Follow Tom Shields on Twitter here.

Follow Tim Phillips on Twitter here.

This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com.

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Anyone know what was afflicting Shields earlier in the summer? You can see Phelps girding himself for some serious work in that interview. I think he wanted to see what he could get away with on an easier workout regimen. He’d been able to go 50 point in 2010 and 2011, when he considered himself in bad shape. He may have hoped he could reproduce that with less work by paring down his race schedule. Maybe he can, though I’ll be surprised if he goes faster than 50.9 this week. I think the experience will drive him to get back into the grind that made him great.


Mel- you really think MP can go under 50.5? I tend to doubt he can do that at this point, just based on what he’s said about his workload this year and how he has swum so far this summer. I don’t think he will, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. After all, he is Michael Phelps.

Maybe not 50.5, but a 50.75/8 would be much more likely. Thoughts? @PVK & @Mel


I definitely think Phelps can go under 50.5
He was close in 2010 swimming many events.

With the condition: Phelps only trains and focuses on sprint events of 50/100 fly and 100 free.

I mean, if Geoff Huegill swam PBs in 50/100 fly six years after he retired and 50 kilograms overweight, why can’t Phelps who stayed fit during his one year hiatus?


Can’t wait to see how the MP-Shields race will pan out, not to overlook all the other talented competitors who all have a chance of medalling. Slightly off-topic here, but was wondering if there will be any live streaming available of both prelims & finals sessions for us swim nuts to follow? Sportsnet One will be broadcasting the meet up in Canada, and I’m sure Channel Ten will show the races down under. But for us unlucky Americans, looks like we’ll be stuck with just 2 abbreviated, heavily edited and tape-delayed broadcasts on NBC over the weekend (which would have likely have been shown only on Universal Sports if Michael hadn’t made his timely comeback) – where we’ll probably be… Read more »


Sportsnet One’s Pan Pacs coverage as reported by Mel last month:

If you happen to be in Australia, you can tune in every night as follows:

“Tomorrow night Ten and One will screen the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships live and exclusive

Network Ten’s Mel McLaughlin, Mark Howard and Lachy Reid – plus two of Australia’s most decorated swimmers, Nicole Livingstone and Leisel Jones – will deliver all the analysis, action and electric atmosphere over four days of world-class swimming competition at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Thursday, August 21, from 7.30pm. Live and exclusive on ONE.
Friday, August 22, from 7.30pm. Live and exclusive on ONE.
Saturday, August 23, from 7.30pm. Live and exclusive On TEN.
Sunday, August 24, from 7.30pm. Live and exclusive on ONE.”

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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