Nathan Adrian Rips Sub-22 50 Free for 11th Consecutive Year


  • Villa Deportiva Nacional – Videna, Lima, Peru
  • Tuesday, August 6th – Saturday, August 10th (pool swimming)
  • Prelims 11 AM / Finals 8:30 PM (local time/US Central Time)
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With his back against the wall, at risk of missing the upcoming United States National Team for the first time in over a decade, American sprint stalwart Nathan Adrian threw down a 21.87 50 free Friday night in Lima, Peru, at the 2019 Pan American Games, to take silver. The time ties him with Ryan Held for No. 3 in the nation this season; he must only remain in the top six swimmers nation-wide through August 25 to secure his 2019-2020 spot.

It was his first time under 22 seconds in the event this season, and by achieving the feat, he extends his streak of swimming a 21-point 50 free at least once per year to 11 years.

The veteran Brazilian duo of Bruno Fratus and world record holder Cesar Cielo appear to be the only other swimmers to have an 11-year sub-22 streak – Cielo’s from 2007-2017 and Fratus’ 2009-present. However, world rankings can be unreliable, so it’s possible (but quite unlikely) that there are others.

Others, notably Anthony Ervin, have hit 21-point swims more than 11 years apart (Ervin in 2000 and 2016), but did not do so with the consistency of the aforementioned.

Nathan Adrian‘s 50 Free Best Times by Year:

  • 2008 – 22.01
  • 2009 – 21.46
  • 2010 – 21.55
  • 2011 – 21.84
  • 2012 – 21.68
  • 2013 – 21.47
  • 2014 – 21.66
  • 2015 – 21.37
  • 2016 –  21.47
  • 2017 – 21.83
  • 2018 – 21.85
  • 2019 – 21.87

Adrian, 30, is less than eight months removed from announcing his testicular cancer diagnosis. He underwent surgery in January and returned to racing at the Bloomington Pro Swim Series stop in May. His times this season, remarkably, have been essentially congruent with any other year of his career (though his 50 has dropped off the last three years in general). American sprinters have had a banner year, however, as six men have broken 48 in the 100 free.

Adrian swam at Worlds last month, hitting a 47.08 anchor split on the meet record-setting U.S. men’s 4×100 free relay on the first night. Adrian also anchored the men’s 4×100 medley on the final night in 47.60, but was unable to hold off a jaw-dropping 46.14 split from Great Britain’s Duncan Scott (the second-fastest in history) to seal the win.

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2 years ago

2020 might have like every big meet cancelled but he still managed to continue the streak to 12. Legendary.

3 years ago

Nathan Adrian Incredible silver what just likely gold. He do train fully only 4month. He battling cancer with metastazes three locations her abdomen.

3 years ago

Why are world rankings ‘unreliable’?

Reply to  Really
3 years ago

That’s a question for FINA really. For instance, if you look at the top 50 lcm free times from the year 2010 on their site, you get:

1. 21.36 – Bousquet
2. 22.04 – Schoeman
3. 22.09 – Ashley Callus
4. 22.10 – Cullen Jones
5. 22.18 – Marco Orsi

But, for instance, Pan Pacs was that year… and the medalists were Adrian (21.55), Cielo (21.57), and Brent Hayden (21.89), with Fratus (21.93) getting 4th. Cullen Jones’ 22.10 _was_ from Pan Pacs though, so it’s not like FINA missed the whole meet… just most of it.

USASwimming’s site has 14 people breaking 22 that year.

3 years ago

Happy to see this after what he’s been through recently, what a consistent performer and class act

Mr Piano
3 years ago

He should go ALL in for the 50. It’s his best shot at making the team. He’s huge, muscular, he’s perfect for the 50. He went 21.3/4 when he focused more on the 50, which COULD make the team.

Reply to  Mr Piano
3 years ago

Focusing on the 100 pretty much guarantees him another olympics, individually or in a relay. I do want to see him drop a 21.2 though, but so does everyone lol

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Mr Piano
3 years ago

Huge and muscular don’t translate to the 50 LCM as much as you’d think. Dressel is strong, but not huge and muscular. Fratus is tiny. Ervin is slight. Cielo is 6’5 and 195. Proud sunk like a rock at Worlds. If huge and muscular were the secret, Josh Schneider would be WR holder.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

2014-15 Schneider in a bodysuit would’ve been something to behold

Reply to  Mr Piano
3 years ago

Huge and muscular like Anthony Ervin?

3 years ago

What an absolute unit.

3 years ago

Adrian is Team USAs Derek Jeter, Captain Clutch at all times. A 21.5-6 could beat Andrews depending on how he prepares

3 years ago


About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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