The Year of the Relay Splits Continues: Cordes 49.56, Shields, 43.48

We have now seen the fastest relay split ever in three different distances on night 1 of the 2013 Men’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships. You’ve already heard all about Vlad Morozov’s 17.86 in the 50 freestyle: a number that won’t soon be forgotten by swimming fandom.

But here’s two more to add to the memory banks: 49.56 and 43.48.

Those were the breaststroke split by Kevin Cordes and butterfly by Tom Shields.

For a lot of people, those probably look more like freestyle times, and really good freestyle times at that.

Nope, this is the recalibration of times that we all have to process as the bar gets raised higher-and-higher in our sport. Both were the fastest ever splits in their respective legs.

In the breaststroke, former Cal Golden Bear swimmer Damir Dugonjic had the old best split, with a 50.24 from the super-suit era.

In the fly, former Stanford swimmer Austin Staab was the old best split; he was a 43.55 at NCAA’s in 2009. Shields himself was a 43.56 last year. Shields took his 100 fly out in 19.68 on the first 50. That’s one of the fastest 50 butterflies we’ve ever seen, and he did it on the first half of this race!

So the question now has to be:

Which is more impressive?

A 17.86 in the 50 free?
A 49.56 in the 100 breaststroke?
A 43.48 in the 100 fly?

These are like video game times, folks. If you haven’t been watching, do it. History is going down this week in Indy.

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49.55 100 breast by far.


A night of truly epic proportions. I still can’t wrap my head around these splits! Thank you to everyone at SwimSwam for your top of the line real time reporting.


I think what is even crazier is how fast Cordes and Shields went out! 23.05 and 19.68!!!!!! We we’re wondering/ marveling at a possible sub 23 split and Cordes almost did it in his 100! Then shields smashed the 20 barrier in the first 50 of his 100! How low will they go in the 50s? 22.5? 18.9? Simply crazy.


Most of the top end swimmers like Shields and Cordes, a 50 sprint is basically the same as the first 50 of their 100. For example, when Damir went 50.8 flat start, he was out in 23.4 and split 22.9 on the relay. Shields will likely hit 19.4/5 tomorrow.


How long until we see a sub 1:20 200 medley relay with splits like those?

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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