Stanford’s Simmons Tries Hand at 400 Fly

Is there a 400 fly epidemic going on? Is there something in the water?

For the second time in a month, we’ve seen a big-time swimmer mark an impressive time in the 400 fly, this time was at the Stanford Invitational that is effectively a dual between the college/postgrad squads at Cal and Stanford. Cardinal junior Kaia Simmons’ time was a 4:45.20, which was off of the 4:40.91 that we saw from Longhorn Aquatics National Teamer Kathleen Hersey in Austin.

“I’ve always felt that if a 400 fly existed, it would be my best event. I heard Kathleen Hersey swam a 4:40 so I was trying to beat that time,” Simmons said of the swim.

So what is the theory behind this sudden trend (if two can be a trend)?

“I find that swimming ‘distance fly’ helps me inadvertently learn how to swim most efficiently. If I swim inefficiently, I can’t sustain a pace through the 400–I’ll just burn out,” Simmons explained. “By putting myself in physiologically stressful situations like a 400 fly, I feel like i end up learning how to swim better and it really helps me in my 200 fly – in which I often become less efficient as I increase my effort. ”

Simmons actually took out this 400 fly faster (2:19.05) than she swam her individual 200 fly in (2:19.88), and still managed to finish pretty strongly. Her strategy seemed to payoff – after that first 200 fly time on Saturday, following this 400 fly on Sunday she came back three seconds faster in her 200 with a 2:16.77.

In total, she raced 900 meters of butterfly, in long course, on the weekend.

Here’s a look at her splits compared to Hersey’s.

Simmons 01:07.4 01:11.7 01:13.0 01:13.1 04:45.2
Hersey 01:05.7 01:11.6 01:11.9 01:11.7 04:40.9

In other swims of the meet, Nathan Adrian topped the 100 free in 49.39, with Anthony Ervin placing 3rd in 50.92. Stanford’s Alex Coville split the pair with a 50.41. Adrian would then top the 50 in 22.34, with Ervin touching 2nd in 22.62. Ervin will be hoping for better at next weekend’s Charlotte Grand Prix.

Bobby Bollier looked to be settling into the long course season after flopping at NCAA’s. He won the 200 free in 1:52 and the 100 fly in 54.39. Tom Shields was 3rd in 54.68 – which is a far cry from where we saw him a few weeks ago at the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions a few weeks ago – a 52.90.

Stanford’s Elaine Breeden won the much-shorter women’s 100 fly in 59.33.

Full Results here.

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I remember seeing Mel Stewart swim a 500 yard fly in Arizona back in the early 90’s at either the Holiday Festival or the Lost Dutchman started by Mike Tory.


I think Cal (not sure about Stanford) wore briefs for this meet, so pretty respectable times.


Simmons actually swam a 2:16 in her individual event.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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