Roadmaps – Mapping the Journey of US Swimming Stars: Men’s 100 Fly

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.

World University Games finalist Jack Saunderson (51.36), 2016 Olympian Tom Shields (51.55), and U.S. National teamer Miles Smachlo (51.93) are the rest of the top 8 seeds.

2017-2020 Olympic Quad: US Men’s 100 FL LCM

Rank Swimmer Time Meet
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

10&U Best

Name SCY LCM
Michael Andrew 26.59 31.07
Caeleb Dressel 28.48 31.85
Maxime Rooney 29.28 34.88
Andrew Seliskar 30.86 33.76
Tom Shields 31.00 37.28
Miles Smachlo 31.65 36.29
Jack Saunderson 32.48 38.43
Jack Conger 33.36 36.91

11-12 Best

Name SCY LCM
Michael Andrew 23.65 26.22
Maxime Rooney 24.80 28.72
Caeleb Dressel 25.86 28.10
Miles Smachlo 27.19 31.49
Andrew Seliskar 27.28 29.99
Jack Conger 27.50 29.66
Jack Saunderson 27.98 34.13
Tom Shields 28.34 32.59

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
Michael Andrew 12 13 13
Jack Conger 13 13 14
Maxime Rooney 11 13 15
Andrew Seliskar 12 14 15
Tom Shields 13 15 15
Miles Smachlo 12 15 15
Caeleb Dressel 12 15 16
Jack Saunderson 13 17 17

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)
Caeleb Dressel 17 18
Michael Andrew 18 18
Jack Conger 19 18
Andrew Seliskar 22 18
Tom Shields 18 19
Maxime Rooney 20 19
Jack Saunderson 20 21
Miles Smachlo 20 21

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

Name Time Age
Caeleb Dressel 42.80 21
Tom Shields 43.84 25
Jack Conger 44.35 22
Miles Smachlo 44.82 20
Maxime Rooney 44.83 21
Michael Andrew 45.47 20
Jack Saunderson 45.51 20
Andrew Seliskar 45.59 22

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

Name 14&U 15-18 19-22 23+
Caeleb Dressel 1:00.87 52.96 49.50 50.92
Maxime Rooney 56.83 53.25 50.68
Jack Conger 57.52 52.51 51.26 51.00
Michael Andrew 54.59 52.57 51.33
Andrew Seliskar 58.98 52.81 51.34 51.95
Jack Saunderson 54.96 51.36
Tom Shields 1:01.99 53.62 51.65 51.03
Miles Smachlo 1:00.23 54.53 51.93

Single Age Progression: Men’s 100 FL LCM (Ages 8-28)

Name 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Caeleb Dressel 1:19.55 1:13.25 1:08.55 1:03.63 1:03.98 1:00.87 55.18 53.31 54.41 52.96 52.22 49.86 50.50 49.50 50.92
Maxime Rooney 1:18.32 1:15.53 1:03.68 58.73 56.83 55.75 53.85 53.40 53.25 52.28 52.59 50.68
Jack Conger 1:29.57 1:08.46 59.27 57.52 56.16 55.55 53.04 52.51 52.55 51.33 51.26 51.33 51.00 51.21 52.19
Michael Andrew 1:33.19 1:18.69 1:17.46 1:03.13 56.73 54.59 53.46 52.57 53.18 52.57 51.53 51.33
Andrew Seliskar 1:13.65 1:09.34 1:07.43 1:02.99 58.98 54.88 53.49 53.04 52.81 53.78 52.24 51.34 51.95
Jack Saunderson 1:01.68 57.59 54.96 53.69 53.34 51.48 51.36
Tom Shields 1:21.92 1:16.37 1:12.66 1:03.12 1:01.99 59.16 55.54 55.09 53.62 52.94 51.86 52.32 51.65 51.29 51.03 51.55 52.00 51.94 51.59
Miles Smachlo 1:35.25 1:20.58 1:14.40 1:08.47 1:05.53 1:00.23 58.46 56.87 55.06 54.53 53.08 51.93

Single Age Progression: Men’s 100 FL SCY (Ages 8-26)

Name 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Caeleb Dressel 1:17.11 1:04.74 1:02.83 56.09 56.32 51.90 51.41 47.77 45.89 45.28 44.40 43.58 42.80 44.48
Maxime Rooney 1:18.34 1:06.90 59.58 54.32 51.79 50.07 48.32 49.38 46.63 47.17 48.33 44.99 44.83
Jack Conger 1:17.17 1:17.81 1:04.10 56.12 49.92 49.56 48.80 47.19 46.15 45.46 44.55 44.87 44.35 45.32
Michael Andrew 1:21.64 1:11.32 1:04.86 1:00.27 52.86 49.07 46.95 47.30 46.23 46.54 45.97 46.59 45.47
Andrew Seliskar 1:28.32 1:10.17 1:02.05 59.52 57.51 52.61 49.26 47.78 46.50 46.13 47.46 48.30 45.59
Jack Saunderson 1:14.09 1:08.27 1:03.79 59.92 56.01 54.15 51.59 49.50 47.60 47.01 45.51 45.64
Tom Shields 1:17.84 1:05.58 1:02.30 59.10 56.41 49.68 47.57 47.55 44.91 44.78 44.76 44.59 43.84 45.16
Miles Smachlo 1:37.79 1:20.51 1:09.48 1:03.69 58.93 55.02 52.57 49.10 48.42 49.99 46.30 46.16 44.82 44.84

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.

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Coach Mike 1952

Great stats, thank you.

The Original Tim

Not so much about the stats, but about potentially getting that theoretical #2 slot behind Dressel…Shields is the biggest question mark for me. He’s mentioned in the past couple of years that he’s focused his training on the 200 fly, which I think has been a bit to the detriment of his 100 fly. Yeah, yeah, the piano jokes naturally call into question how effective his 200 fly training is going, but you can see in his recent 100 flys that he swims a different race than he did back in 2016 and his 100 times aren’t at the same level as then, either. If he can dial back in to the 100, I think Shields and Saunderson are the… Read more »

Aquajosh

I think Shields swam that 51 he is entered in for this year as exhibition at a college meet where he had no stakes and wouldn’t have been tapered or shaved. He’s my sentimental pick for #2. Hopefully having that extra year to train will only help.

Kevin

Same here. I would love to see shields make it again, and his unshaven and untapered 51.7 gives me hope!

The Original Tim

I’m absolutely rooting for him to get that #2 slot! I’ve been a fan since I first watched him swim in ~2012. I might be reaching here, but I think he’s got a great shot to make the team in the 100 and has as good a shot as anyone else to make it in the 200, too.

Taa

He split a 50.4 in the relay at Pan Ams last summer. So he has been a lot faster than the time they give him credit for in the article

96Swim

I’d be interested to see one of these articles for the distance events.

Lane 8

That would be a great idea for the next Roadmaps. For now the top 8 in the 400 (US men’s weakest event) are…
US Men’s 400 Free LCM, 2017-2020
1. Zane Grothe 3:44.43 (2017 summer nats)
2. Clark Smith 3:45.91 (2017 summer nats)
3. Townley Haas 3:46.41 (2017 summer nats)
4. Grant Shoults 3:46.90 (2018 summer nats)
5. Kieran Smith 3:47.72 (2019 US open)
6. Jake Mitchell 3:47.95 (2019 world jrs)
7. Bobby Finke 3:48.17 (2019 summer nats)
8. Eric Knowles 3:48.34 (2019 summer nats)

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro has had a huge passion for swimming since his first dive in the pool, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing, but still uses the sport as his go-to cardio. SwimSwam has become an outlet for him to continue showing his …

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