SwimSwam Pulse: 42.6% Say Men’s 200 IM (SCY) Has Taken Biggest Leap In Last Decade

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which 200-yard event on the men’s side has gone under the biggest transformation time wise over the last 10 years:

Question: Which men’s SCY event has taken the biggest leap (gotten faster) over the last decade?


  • 200 IM – 42.6%
  • 200 free – 29.9%
  • 200 breast – 14.9%
  • 200 back – 7.1%
  • 200 fly – 5.5%

Inspired by one of the comment sections during the Minnesota Invite, our latest A3 Performance Poll took a gauge of which men’s event in short course yards has taken the biggest step forward in terms of time over the last decade.

The conversation was sparked after Texas’ Carson Foster and Cal’s Destin Lasco both anchored their teams’ respective 800 free relays with sub-1:31 200 free splits, something that not too long ago was unheard of, but has since become common for the NCAA’s top athletes.

In February of 2014, Michael Wynalda split 1:30.60 on Michigan’s record-breaking 800 free relay at the Big Ten Championships, which was the first sub-1:31 leg in history.

The U.S. Open Record at the time was 1:31.20, set by Simon Burnett in 2006, and it wouldn’t be until a decade later when someone would break 1:31 on a flat start, with Townley Haas doing so at the 2016 NCAA Championships (1:30.46).

Two short years later and Haas and Blake Pieroni both went sub-1:30, and then the year after that Dean Farris set a new all-time record of 1:29.15 at the 2019 NCAA Championships.

In terms of relay splits, a total of seven swimmers were 1:30.84 or faster at last season’s NCAAs (including lead-offs), a stark contrast to 2012, when no one was under 1:33.

However, despite the developments we’ve seen in the 200 free, it’s actually the 200 IM that came out on top in the poll with more than 42 percent of votes.

Ryan Lochte set the U.S. Open Record in 1:40.08 back in 2007 and held onto it for seven and a half years before David Nolan took .01 off it at the 2015 Pac-12 Championships.

Three weeks later, Nolan became the first swimmer sub-1:40 in the event, setting a new benchmark of 1:39.38.

Since then, seven different swimmers have been faster, including six of them going under 1:39.

At the 2022 NCAA Championships, we saw a swimmer break 1:40 in the consolation final (Ron Polonsky), and the time required to even earn a second swim (1:42.35) wasn’t far off the winning time in 2012 (1:41.97).

In the 200 free, it’s even closer, as it took 1:32.51 to win the 2012 NCAA title and 1:32.58 to make it back for a night swim in 2022.

The 200 free picked up just under 30 percent of votes, while the 200 breast was third with just under 15 percent.

The depth in the 200 breast has certainly improved drastically, but there have been some superstars over the years who still stand near the top of the all-time rankings. Will Licon still holds the U.S. Open Record at 1:47.91 from 2017, while Kevin Cordes‘ 1:48.66 from back in 2014 still ranks fourth.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which of these super-suited world records has the best chance of falling next week in Melbourne?

Which pre-2010 world record is most at risk at the Short Course World Championships?

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 month ago

I remember when Nolan went 1:41 his senior year of high school in 2011 and that blew people’s minds. Now a 15-year-old is doing that time 🤯

1 month ago

I mean it takes a 1:41 just to get a second swim at NCs in 2 IM, 1:39 to make A final

It’s absurd

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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