2021 FINA SHORT COURSE WORLD SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, December 16th – Tuesday, December 21st
- Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- SCM (25m)
- Prize Money
- Meet Site
- Psych Sheet
- SwimSwam Preview Index
- FINA Live Results
- Omega Live Results
28-year old American swimmer Nic Fink broke a 17-year drought for the Americans on Saturday when he won the 200 breaststroke at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships. Not only did he become the first American man to win the 200 breaststroke at this meet since the US-hosted 2004 event in Indianapolis, but he became the first American man to win any breaststroke race at the Short Course World Championships since 2004.
17 years ago, American Brendan Hansen took the treble, winning the 50, 100, and 200 breaststrokes. Since then, the US has won just two breaststroke medals of any color at this meet: Mark Gangloff a silver in the 50 in 2008, and Kevin Cordes a bronze in 2012.
The only event where the American men have had similar struggles across meets has been the men’s distance freestyles, though Bobby Finke took a big bite out of that narrative in Tokyo.
While the U.S. hasn’t been great for a while in long course either (the last U.S. Olympic gold in the men’s 100 or 200 breaststroke came in 1992), the U.S. should, in theory, be better in short course than they are. The high school and NCAA systems put a ton of emphasis on short course swimming, more than basically anywhere else in the world, and in yards breaststroke, especially, a swimmer with big turns can dominate a field far beyond their long course abilities.
Most recent U.S. Champions in World Championship, Olympic events (MEN)
|Last SC Worlds Gold||Last LC World Gold||
Last Olympic Gold
|50 free||None (since 1993)||2019||2020|
|800 free||N/A||None (since 2001)||2020|
|1500 free||None (since 1993)||1975||2020|
|200 fly||None (Since 1993)||2011||2016|
December 2021 has been a career turning-point for Fink. Before his World Championship, he was one of the highlights of the ISL season when he upset World Record holder Ilya Shymanovich to win the 50, 100, and 200 breaststrokes at the ISL finale, scoring huge points for his Cali Condors team.
He’s been stuck in a quagmire of a breaststroke group for the Americans for the last few years along with Andrew Wilson and Michael Andrew. With Wilson not in the UK and on what seems to be semi-swimming-retirement, and Andrew facing some issues with consistency, Fink has pounced on an opportunity to jump into the poll position, at least emotionally, ahead of the quick turnaround to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
After the Olympics, where Fink placed 5th in the 200 breaststroke, he moved to Atlanta from nearby Athens, where he trained in and since college. On social media, Fink has indicated that he might be already looking toward his post-swimming career in engineering, posting that he is seeking a part-time job in that field.
But between a $15,000 prize in this 200 breast, $10,500 in the 100 breast earlier in the meet, the 50 and some relay swims still to come, and around $70,000 in ISL money, he’s earning enough, at least, to justify stretching his career in the pool out a little longer.
We can’t ignore the absences from this meet – no Zac Stubblety-Cook from Australia or Kirill Prigoda from Russia, for example – and we can’t ignore that this has all been in short course and not long course either.
But we also can’t ignore momentum. He swam best times in the 100 breast (58.50) and 200 breast (2:07.55) at the US Olympic Trials, in spite of a 2020 year that was interrupted by both pandemic and a pair of broken wrists. He’s now winning, regularly, on big stages, even if not the biggest stages. With 2022’s World Aquatics Championships (long course) in May, an unusually-early time slot, and then right back in to a short course World Championship again at the end of the year, these modest victories could snowball into big success in Paris.