Redemption: Clark Smith Breaks 500 Free American Record With 4:08.42

2017 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s been a wild ride for Texas’s Clark SmithBut he ends his collegiate 500 free career with the sweetest redemption story imaginable: returning to the top of the NCAA with the fastest swim in history.

Smith went out in incredibly gutsy fashion and held on over a brutal field, going 4:08.42 to break American, NCAA and U.S. Open records in the event.

Peter Vanderkaay held all of those records from a pair of swims. His 2006 swim of 4:08.60 was the NCAA and meet record, while his 4:08.54 from 2008 held American and U.S. Open records. Those records stood for 11 and 9 years, respectively, before Smith finally got to them.

Smith, of course, has his own history with chasing the record. As a blue-chip freshman, he missed NCAAs entirely for Texas. But as a sophomore, he broke out in historic fashion, winning the NCAA title in 4:09.72. The next year, he went 4:08.82 to rattle the record midseason, then bombed out at NCAAs to finish 21st and miss finals entirely.

But as a senior, Smith found redemption, going 4:08.42 to break all of the records and conclude his collegiate career – in this event at least – on top.

In the same race, his teammate Townley Haas moved up to a tie for #4 all-time and Michigan freshman Felix Auboeck also jumped into the top 10:

Top 10 Performers All-Time In 500y Free

Place Swimmer Time
1 Clark Smith 4:08.42
2 Peter Vanderkaay 4:08.54
3 Tom Dolan 4:08.75
4 Townley Haas 4:08.92
4 Jean Basson 4:08.92
6 Felix Auboeck 4:08.95
7 Michael Klueh 4:09.32
8 Sebastian Rouault 4:09.48
9 Fynn Minuth 4:09.55
10 Akaram Mahmoud 4:09.73

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12 Comments on "Redemption: Clark Smith Breaks 500 Free American Record With 4:08.42"

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Clark looked like he was favoring his right leg on the podium. Anyone know why?

Because swimmers have terrible posture

NYC Unicorn

It was from carrying all the haters

Love this comment😂. Go Clark!

Bay City Tex

Perfect response!

He had trouble with it immediately getting out of the pool. The trainers greeted him at the blocks. Maybe a quad cramp on the final push and sprint?

Happens every time I swim under 4:10 too.

djalbertson

so fantastic! so fast! great job.

Swim Parent

Did he get off the podium and throw away his trophy like he did every big 12 medal?

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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