In all of the excitement surrounding how fast Cal swam on day 1 of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, one monumental record was lost in the rubble. Cal’s Seth Stubblefield broke the 17-18 National Age Group Record of another Cal Bear: the great Anthony Ervin.
Stubblefield swam a 19.41 in prelims of the individual 50 free, which just snuck under Ervin’s best time of 19.43 that was done in 2000. As evidence of how far sprinting has come since then, Ervin actually won the NCAA Title and the Olympic gold medal that same year, when he was only a freshman at Cal.
In what has since become a race for the older and stronger, Stubblefield and his Cal teammates are bringing youth back into fashion in the sprints. He finished 5th in the final in 19.57, and his teammate Tyler Messerschmidt finished 9th in 19.45, which made them the only two freshman in the top 30 of this race. You actually have to go all the way down to 39th-place and Louisville’s Caryle Blondell to find a non-Cal freshman in the standings.
Stubblefield made headlines last year when he made the controversial decision to skip his senior year of high school and focus on club swimming (which is becoming more-and-more popular). It looks from this result as though that was exactly the right decision for him to make.
Stubblefield doesn’t age up until July 21st.