Martin Espernberger Erases Mel Stewart’s 32 Year-Old Tennessee 200 Fly Record


Many years before Mel Stewart would become the co-founder of SwimSwam, he was a pretty decent swimmer himself…and by “pretty decent” we mean a two-time Olympic gold medalist and former 200 fly world record holder.

Along the way, the man we now affectionately call “Gold Medal Mel” went 1:41.78 in the 200 yard fly while representing Tennessee at the 1991 NCAA Championships. That time set a NCAA record that lasted until Gil Stovall went 1:41.33 in 2008 (although Michael Phelps had taken the American and US Open records under 1:40 in the meantime).

Of course, Stewart’s time also set a Tennessee school record that lasted far longer. In fact, it lasted until today.

In this morning’s prelims session, Volunteer freshman Martin Espernberger improved his best time from 1:41.91 to 1:41.39, tying for 8th place overall, and breaking Stewart’s 32 year-old Tennessee school record in the event.

While Espernberger is an Austrian native, he’d spent the past couple of years living and competing in the United States, so he had plenty of SCY swims coming into his freshman year at Tennessee, with a pre-college lifetime best of 1:46.01. He rapidly improved in his first semester in Knoxville, going 1:42.56 in December, before dropping about half a second at SECs, and even more time today.

While he lost the swim-off for the A-final against Michigan’s Gal Cohen Groumi, Espernberger will get another shot at lowering the Tennessee school record even further from lane 4 of the B-final tonight.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

As a participant in the 1991 NCAA meet, I was on deck close to Mel when he asked his coach what was the strategy for the 200 fly final. (He had not raced Nesty in the event at SECs due to one of them having false started out of the race.) Mel’s coach said “Skip Foster (Florida coach) will have Nesty attempt to be a body length ahead the first 100 in order to get into your head”. Mel asked “So what is our plan?”. His coach offered, “Be a body length ahead of Nesty at all costs. Your final time will not be as fast but you will punish your opponent.” To this answered Mel “I LIKE IT!!!”. Mel… Read more »

2 months ago

In Martin’s post race interview, did he say anything about not sleeping alone that night?

2 months ago

Mel with the iconic Speedo Sprint goggles. I used to like the neon green ones!

Gold Medal Mel Stewart
Reply to  Coachmommy
2 months ago

Worn those from 10 to 27 years old in races

grizzled bastard
2 months ago

Such a glamour picture of Mel.

2 months ago

Bet he doesn’t breathe to the side like Mel did. Still don’t know how he did that 😂

Steele Robert
2 months ago

Mel’s time was FANTASTIC for a kid that that thought tapering was wearing his Speedo around for 7 days before the big meets.

Ole 99
2 months ago

Mel who? Never heard of him.

2 months ago

Good job Martin sosososo proud!!! Wooohoooo kill it at finals. Cheeeing for you!

About Robert Gibbs