During the third and final stop of the 2021 Mare Nostrum Tour in Barcelona, Hungarian Kristof Milak won the men’s 100 butterfly with a time of 50.95. And, once again, he registered a sub-27-second back-half split – 26.71.
Watching the race, I wondered if it is one of the fastest back-half splits in history, since it was really impressive how he managed to increase his lead during the second 50.
It’s not easy an easy thing coming home sub-27. Few swimmers have done it. Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the fastest back-half splits in history of the event. With his 26.71, Milak falls just short of entering the list. But, he actually does appear on it, with two swims from this year’s European Championships. Among the active swimmers, he has the fastest second 50, a 26.49 in Budapest two weeks ago.
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But the one who dominates the list is Michael Phelps. Which is not a surprise, since everybody remembers his victories in the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships coming from behind in amazing displays of power at the end of the 100 fly. In fact, these two performances are among the fastest back-halves ever, but they are not the fastest ones.
The fastest back-half split ever was registered in 2009, during the Quebec Cup in Canada. Phelps split 26.34 coming home. He also has the fastest second 50-meter in a textile suit, with a 26.35 during the 2015 USA Nationals.
The #3 split on the list is really impressive. It was registered during the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona. Swimming in the second semi-final, he was 8th at the turn in 25.11. He came home with a 26.36 to break the existing world record with a 51.47 – a difference of only 1.2 second between the splits. It’s been almost 18 years, and this is still one of the fastest back-half splits ever.
But, obviously the world record holder could not be left out of this list. And it is really impressive that Caeleb Dressel usually is the fastest swimmer in the first 50 meters, and also has a very strong second 50. He manages to come home under 27-seconds frequently during the biggest meets. When he set the world record of 49.50 during the 2019 World Championships, he was the only swimmer to crack the 23-second in the first 50 (22.83) and managed to split a very strong 26.67 on the second 50 – in fact, he was the fastest man in the first 50 meters AND in the second 50 in that race. Which shows that he is not only an amazing sprinter, but he also has great endurance. Working hard with coach Gregg Troy over the years is really paying off.