Success In Both 50 and 100 Free Much Rarer Than In The Past


Despite the fact that sprint freestylers almost always swim both the 50 and 100 internationally, history shows us its fairly rare to be successful in both events at the same championship meet for males in recently. After Nathan Adrian’s disappointing 7th place in the 100 freestyle, and then his new American record of 21.37 just set in the 50m semi’s, it got us thinking. In the last 8 years, only 3 different men have medaled in the 50 and 100 freestyle at an Olympics or World Championships, and no one has done it in the last six years.

Cesar Cielo did it at the 2008 Olympics (50 Fr-Gold, 100 Fr-Bronze) and the 2009 World Championships (50 Fr-Gold, 100 Fr-Gold). France’s Alain Bernard also did it at the 2008 Olympics (50 Fr-Bronze, 100 Fr-Gold) and his countryman Frederick Bousquet did it at the 2009 World Championships (50 Fr-Silver, 100 Fr-Bronze). No one has done it since 2009, as the closest anyone has come was Cielo in 2011 with gold in the 50 and 4th place in the 100. No one will do it this year either, with 100m champion Ning Zetao finishing 15th in the 50m semi-finals and silver and bronze medalists in the 100 Cameron McEvoy and Federico Grabich not competing in the 50. Of the 8 swimmers from the 100m final, Nathan Adrian will be the only one swimming in the 50m final tomorrow.

Prior to 2007, this feat was much more common. It was done seven times between the 2000 Olympics and 2005 World Championships. Pieter van den Hoogenband did it three times, which is even more amazing considering his ability in the 200m, Roland Schoeman did it twice and Anthony Ervin won both in 2001. Vladimir Morozov had a good chance of doing it at these championships before he false started in the 100m semi’s. He has been fast over 100m so far these championships including relay legs, but his 50 hasn’t looked as good as he tied for 8th tonight and had to swim-off for his spot in the final, ultimately winning the swim-off.

The thing about these two events is they are so much different than people perceive. The 50 has no turn, the swimmers take little to no breaths, and there is absolutely no margin for error if you want to be successful. In the 100 swimmers breath much more frequently and have time to make up for mistakes if they were slow off the blocks or had a bad turn. The Brazilians have been talking about this need for ultra specialization in the sprints for years. After seeing his success in the 100 freestyle dim after 2009, Cesar Cielo hasn’t swum the 100 freestyle at the last two world championships. We have also seen top Brazilian freestylers Bruno Fratus (50 free), Matheus Santana and Marcelo Chierighini (100 free) focus on their specific event rather than both.

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The only reason Cielo could do both was because he had the super suit to help him nor completely crash on the back half of the 100.


Glenny.. Cielo went 47,84 on 2011 Pan am.. so he is by no means someone who could only do 100 with suits. And 2011 he was on both races on Worlds.. He got fourth by 0.01.

He was never close to his suit times? Yes, but his 100 free times were world level with or without the suits..


Didn’t Cielo also fail a drug test around that time that was somewhat swept under the rug?


In London he does the same time

Rick Mears

None the less those days are in the rear view mirror for Cielo.


Does anyone know where you can watch the BBC broadcast of the championships?


The BBC coverage is all on the iPlayer section of the BBC website but I think you have to be in the UK to access it.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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