In our new series, Roadmaps – Mapping the Journey of US Swimming Stars, we will explore how modern-day Olympians climbed their way to the top, starting from as early as 8 years old all the way to their elite level today.
What’s the most difficult stroke in the pool for you to swim? For the majority of age group swimmers, it’s butterfly. However, in this installment of Roadmaps, we will look at 8 American men who were flying like pros by 10 years old.
Coming in as #1 for this Olympic quad is the fastest swimmer to ever compete in the 100 fly, Caeleb Dressel (49.50). Sliding in as the only other American to break 51 seconds is 2019 U.S. National champion Maxime Rooney (50.68). 200 yard fly American record-holder Jack Conger (51.00) and versatile stars Michael Andrew (51.33) and Andrew Seliskar (51.34) file in behind.
2017-2020 Olympic Quad: US Men’s 100 FL LCM
|1||Caeleb Dressel||49.50||2019 World Championships|
|2||Maxime Rooney||50.68||2019 Summer U.S. Nationals|
|3||Jack Conger||51.00||2019 Pro Swim Series – Atlanta|
|4||Michael Andrew||51.33||2020 Pro Swim Series – Des Moines|
|5||Andrew Seliskar||51.34||2019 World Cup Series – Tokyo|
|6||Jack Saunderson||51.36||2019 Summer U.S. Nationals|
|7||Tom Shields||51.55||2017 Summer U.S. Nationals|
|8||Miles Smachlo||51.93||2019 Summer U.S. Nationals|
Age Group Stars: Talented Little Flyers
At 10 years old, this group was already swimming under 34 seconds in the 50-yard fly. Notably, Michael Andrew, Caeleb Dressel, and Maxime Rooney had already broken 30 seconds in the short course pool. In the 50-meter pool, Andrew and Dressel were also popping sub-32 swims. As you may have guessed, this group was way under 30 seconds by the time they were 12. In fact, everyone was under 28.5 at 12.
*For reference, when Michael Phelps was 11 years old, he swam 26.7 in the 50-yard fly.
Men’s 50 FL: 12&U Times
Teen Studs: Breaking the Big Barriers
At 12, Maxime Rooney already broke the minute barrier in the 100-yard fly. Michael Andrew, Andrew Seliskar, and Caeleb Dressel also swam 59-point before turning 13. In LCM, Rooney, Andrew, and Jack Conger were under a minute at 13 years old. Tom Shields, Miles Smachlo, and Dressel were 15 years old when they broke 1:00 long course while Jack Saunderson was 17. At that same age, Saunderson also broke 50 seconds in the 100-yard fly. However, Andrew and Conger already saw 49-point before turning 15 years old.
Men’s 100 FL: Ages at Sub-1:00
|Name||SCY Age||LCM Age||
Sub-50 SCY Age
Caeleb Dressel then exploded during his high school years. At 15, he broke 1:00 SCY, followed by breaking 1:00 LCM one year later. At 17, Dressel swam 45.89 in the 100-yard fly, which was a national high school record in September 2013. Turning 18 was a big year for Dressel along with Michael Andrew, Jack Conger, Andrew Seliskar, and Tom Shields, as they all began to enter senior-level competitive times.
Men’s 100 FL: Ages at Competitive Marks
|Name||SCY Age (Sub-46)||
LCM Age (Sub-53)
College Swimmers: Racing the 100 Fly at NCAAs
From 2010-2013, Cal Bear Tom Shields picked up 3 NCAA titles and one silver in the 100-yard fly. Then from 2015-2017, Texas Longhorn Jack Conger picked up one silver and two bronzes in the 100-yard fly. During Conger’s senior year, he won the 200-yard fly in American record time.
In 2017 and 2018, Caeleb Dressel was a sensation with Florida, becoming a 2-time champion and the American record-holder in the 100-yard fly. During the 2018 NCAA Championships, then-Florida Gator Maxime Rooney also placed 4th in the same 100 fly final that Dressel broke the American record.
Jack Saunderson started out as a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) star with Towson from 2015-2019. He then improved to placing 15th at the 2019 NCAA Championships his senior year. Miles Smachlo also broke out in 2019, winning Big Tens and earning NCAA bronze as a junior at Michigan. In 2020, Smachlo repeated as Big Ten champion while Rooney’s transfer to Texas led him to top the 2020 NCAA championship psych sheets.
Andrew Seliskar, who competed for Cal from 2015-2019, did not swim the 100-yard fly during his four NCAA championship campaigns. His senior year, Seliskar picked up his first, second, and third NCAA titles (200 IM/FR/BR). While Michael Andrew has been professional since 13, his lifetime best of 45.47 would have ranked him 15th during the 2019-2020 NCAA season.
Men’s 100 FL SCY: Lifetime Bests
Olympic Hopefuls: Who Will Fill Phelps’ Shoes?
For the first time since 2000, the men’s 100 fly will not have Michael Phelps contest in it. Tom Shields placed 7th in the event at the 2016 Olympics after punching his ticket to Rio next to Phelps at that year’s Olympic Trials. This Olympic quad, however, 28-year-old Shields is ranked 7th in the US. That means this next American 100 fly duo has the potential to be a clean slate. Here’s a breakdown of the remaining top candidates contesting for the final at the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials:
- Caeleb Dressel (23) — Dressel is a 2-time World champion in this event, not to mention the current world record-holder in this event. Unless he was struck by lightning, expect Dressel to earn his first 100 fly Olympic qualification.
- Maxime Rooney (21) — Rooney quickly added his name back to the mix by winning 2019 U.S. Nationals and swimming sub-51 in prelims after his training switch to Texas.
- Jack Conger (25) — At the 2016 U.S Olympic Trials, Conger took 4th in the final, finishing 0.06s behind Shields’ runner-up time. His lifetime best of 51.00 is from 2015, however, he has consistently been hitting 51-point season bests since he was 20.
- Michael Andrew (20) — At 17, Andrew placed 15th in this event, a more non-discipline event for him. However, his rapid improvements in the 100 fly could set him up for one of the most unique Olympic Trials schedules.
- Jack Saunderson (22) — After competing with the mid-major Towson, Saunderson put his name on the contenders’ list after qualifying to swim all three fly events at the 2019 World University Games. At the Games, Saunderson took a respectable 4th place finish in the 100 fly. Shortly after, Saunderson placed 3rd at the 2019 U.S. Nationals.
- Miles Smachlo (21) — After his successful junior year at Michigan, Smachlo broke out at the 2019 U.S. Nationals. After taking runner-up in the 200-meter fly, Smachlo won the 100 fly B-final, clocking in a competitive 51.93.
*Andrew Seliskar (23) typically does not swim the 100 fly during his competition schedule. However, his lifetime best of 51.34 from August 2019 would have placed 2nd at U.S. Nationals.
Men’s 100 FL LCM: Progression By Stage
Single Age Progression: Men’s 100 FL LCM (Ages 8-28)
Single Age Progression: Men’s 100 FL SCY (Ages 8-26)
More from the Roadmaps Series:
Up next for the Roadmaps series will be the women’s 100 fly, featuring U.S. national champion Kelsi Dahlia.