Ricky Berens almost retired after the 2012 Summer Olympics. He changed his mind, and for his troubles he’s been rewarded with a new American Record in the 200 yard freestyle.
The swim came on the first night of the 2013 American Short Course Championships (the meet is not a USA Swimming Sanctioned “national championship,” though it is certainly a counting meet, and is run by Longhorn Aquatics in Austin, where he went to college and has now returned as a volunteer assistant.
Berens, going after the record on the 200 yard split of his 500, swam a 1:31.31 to break the old mark held by his former teammate Dave Walters at 1:31.72 from the 2009 NCAA Championships.
The all-time U.S. Open mark (swum by a swimmer of any nationality on US soil) still belongs to Great Britain’s Simon Burnett in 1:31.20 from 2006 (before the suit era).
Berens was only 9th in the prelims of this race in 4:29.05, but a medical scratch put him into the A-Final where he had his record-breaking performance.
For the split to be official, Berens had to finish the 500 free legally, which he did to officially transcribe it onto the books. He finished the 500, basically cooling down, in a 5:05.36, though that won’t be the number that is remembered by fans.