Sprint Guru Brett Hawke Shares Opinions on How to Break World Records

When one of the most successful sprint coaches in swimming history digs deep into sprinting, we would all do well to listen.

Former Auburn head coach Brett Hawke posted a series of posts on Instagram over the weekend about men’s sprinting, covering topics including who he think will win the 100 free at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and how he thinks the World Records in different sprint events will be broken.

Hawke, who now works as development director and clinician for Fitter & Faster, resigned as the head coach at Auburn in 2018. Hawke spent 9 seasons as the lone head coach at Auburn, and before that time worked as co-head coach and assistant coach with some of the fastest sprinters in history, including World Record breakers Fred Bousquet and Cesar Cielo, and 3-time Olympic medalist Matt Targett.

Hawke has also named his favorites for Olympic gold in the 100 free at the 2020 Olympic Games. He picked two Australians, Kyle Chalmers and Cate Campbell, to win the events. The 44-year old Hawke, who has been an American citizen since 2009, represented Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympic Games. He has also been on several Brazilian international coaching staffs via his work with Cesar Cielo and Bruno Fratus, among others.

Chalmers is the defending 100 free Olympic gold medalist, though to win gold he’d have to beat the 2-time defending World Champion and the world’s best male swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who beat Chalmers by .12 seconds and very-nearly got the World Record last summer in Gwangju. Campbell, meanwhile, is the 2nd-best 100 freestyler in history, but has been unable to put her best individual swims together at the biggest meets. Her only individual Olympic medal came in 2008 in the 50 free, and at last summer’s World Championships, she took silver in 52.43, which put her .39 seconds behind Simone Manuel for gold.

See Hawke’s insights and predictions below:

How to break the 100 free World Records:

How to break the 100 Fly World Records:

Brett Hawke‘s picks:


Fitter & Faster Swim Tours is a SwimSwam partner, however this was not a paid-for post.

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Definitely two swimmers with the potential to win. It wouldn’t be a shock at all. Campbell is as talented as Sjostrom, where I don’t think Manuel has quite the same level of raw talent. Dressel is probably more athletically talented than Chalmers, at least for the 100, but Chalmers is a freak in his own right and could absolutely win it (and has before). Dressel and Manuel have each proven themselves to be very clutch when it counts over the past quad, and I think that could be the difference maker in an Olympic final. Several guys broke into the 47s (and a few into the low 47s) last year so if any of them continue on that trajectory, they… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn

And then there’s Penny, who’s now back in the conversation after her upset of Manuel last night.


Yeah, I mentioned her. She’s the large portion of the “Someone else” category. The women’s race definitely has more room for shockers.


The second place US guy is going to be 47.2 at trials. So whoever that is probably has a 10-15% chance of winning. I would go 40-40-15 for the other US guy and 5% for the rest of the field. Women I think its too early to even speculate. Sjostrom even doesnt have a top 10 ranked swim yet this year.

Samuel Huntington

I don’t think the second place US guy will have a chance against the big 2.

Ol' Longhorn

You gotta lane, you gotta chance. 2016 – Chalmers with the upset. 2012, Adrian upsets Magnussen and Sullivan.


Sullivan 2008 was an upset. Also… why is no one talking about Hawke for the USC position?


Because tech suits have been outlawed…


Sullivan? In London??


Even if someone other than Dressel goes 47.2 at U.S. Trials (which seems totally reasonable from Held), they still have to beat both Dressel AND Chalmers in Tokyo. I stand by my 5% chance estimate.


okay my $20 against your $400. I’ll take that bet all day long. I get Duncan Scott, the American #2 and the juiced up Russians if they compete, some french guy whose name I can’t pronounce and an Italian or two and another juiced up Brazilian dude. I like my chances


I have to disagree, just because you swim quick at trials doesn’t correlate to a good Olympic swim. Look at McEvoy in 2016. 47.05 at trials and didn’t factor at Rio. My opinion, the 100fs at Tokyo is a 2 Horse race. The ‘5% Other’ is in place for DQs and major mistakes.


Chalmers won Olympic gold at 17 and came back from heart surgery. In terms of mental strength/clutch gene, I think he’s a match for anyone. C1, I agree, needs to exercise some demons to win.


Yeah, Chalmers is an amazing racer. After all, in 2016, when everyone was talking about McEvoy, Adrian, Morozov, etc., Dressel was “fly-and-die” guy and Chalmers was the clutch one who won it out of nowhere. I give Dressel the edge because he won the 2019 WC title and is the only textile 46 so far, but if Chalmers can improve his top-end speed or even knock a tenth or so off his start/15m time, I don’t know if Dressel will be able to hold him off.


Clutch gene. Nice one Skip Bayless.


Exorcise. Like an exorcism.


I’d put Duncan Scott pretty high up on the list to compete with CD and Chalmers. He’s young and his recent trajectory is off the charts!
I actually believe that lane assignments for the Final will come in to play. If Dressel has Chalmers and someone like Scott on either side of him, then there is a good chance that he doesn’t take the gold. If he has separation from them, then I think he is more of a lock.
I’m still convinced that Chalmers got a little draft off of CD on that 2nd 50 at Worlds. I suppose we’ll know more come Aussie trials


Chalmers just went 47.99 in Adelaide ! Go you good thing !

SuperSwimmer 2000

Not sure why you say Campbell is as talented as Sjoestrom, but that Manuel does not have the same level of raw talent. Manuel’s AR is only one-hundredth off Campbell’s best (52.03 to 52.04), and is the third-fastest performance of all time. On top of that, she’s come out on top of the 100 at the last last two World Championships and at the last Olympics. What’s it’s going to take for you all to admit Manuel is in the same league? There was a time when she was considered the upset and underdog — but not anymore.


Your take hasn’t mattered since 09 Brett

not as good or as bad as people think

I’d expect a statement like this from an Augie Busch fan. Brett clearly giving his opinion. Something he’s entitled to do.
Maybe you’re sour you never got to work with a decent sprint coach


At least you’re acknowledging he is only decent


How to break a world record: go faster than the current record.

I wish I had thought of this! It’s brilliant!
(I should probably watch the videos before sassing off, but this is more fun.)

After what we’ve seen the last 4 years we’ve still got people who want to pick C1 over Simone in a major individual final? That is a bet I will take all the way to the bank.


I don’t know if Manuel wins gold medal in 100FR But this is her best chance. She will compete against 28 and 27 years old swimmers. I don’t think Sjostrom will be again in 2017 from and Cate Campbell is actually a 52 3 swimmer with one fluctuation into 52 flat zone. What I would really like to see that is Bronte on the top step of podium. Same way as she did in Kazan. She has 52.2 in her. It is enough to compete for the gold.

Old Man Chalmers

c1 has gone 52.0 twice and 52.1 once, but I think penny will win the 100 free in tokyo


Penny looks too heavy and there is nothing of girlish excitement left in her look. She is too mature for some crazy swim. I am not sure she breaks her personal best (52.7). But even if she does it it won’t be significant.

Old Man Chalmers

Did you say the same about sjostrom in early 2013 when she had done very little beyond winning the 100 fly at 2009 worlds?

Corn Pop

Sarah was only 17 in early 2013.. .


True. She was significantly younger in 2013, but not 17 😀
On the other hand you didn’t say what Sarah you remember from 2013. I take my words back 😀


I doubt I could say anything in English in 2013 😀

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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