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.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

could cordes also swim the 200 IM and possible be NCAA champion?

11 years ago

most impressive: the 49.ridiculous by Cordes. Adding to the reason: his reaction time was slow (0.27). Vlad had 0.03.

Watch out for Shields – he is going to post some insane times before the end of the meet – we will be doing additional marveling over faster splits in the near future.

11 years ago

Remember that guy who got all in a tizzy when I called him crazy for saying that Cordes was washed up just because he swam a 55 in a dual meet?

Yeah, me neither.

But I’d love to hear what he has to say now.

bobo gigi
11 years ago

These times are impressive but are just relay splits. I’m waiting for the individual races to express my full excitement. We must be cautious. Relays and individual races are often different things.
Among these 3 relay splits the most impressive, in my opinion, is by far the 49.56 of Kevin Cordes. It means around 50.2/50.3 on individual. It would be a destroyed NCAA record. Last year I had predicted he would break the 50 barrier before the end of his college career. It’s less and less unlikely. He had swum 50.62 in the relay last year and then 51.32 on individual. This year, his first goal is to break the suit NCAA record of 50.86 and then to approach… Read more »

11 years ago

Well, that may not matter much longer… FINA is discussing allowing unlimited off the start.

11 years ago

I’d say Cordes. The announcers sometimes seemed so clueless and mixed so many little things up that when I first heard them mention Cordes at 49.56 I just figured it was another one of their errors.

Reply to  liquidassets
11 years ago

Agreed.I hear “49.56” and i think to myself:”No Way!”…Amazing split.

11 years ago

Anyone else notice the 3 dolphin kicks by Cordes off the dive?

Reply to  BB
11 years ago

I assumed that . There can be so much whitewash around a certain style of breast that they could really be doing the slim breat arm drive/ fly kick drill.

More than a few. Dolphikicks get in sprint breast – plus their arms spurt out like porpoises.

Reply to  BB
11 years ago

Would we be able to see video to confirm that Cordes used three dolphin kicks, it seems unlikely that it would go unnoticed. If so, then Cordes should be off the table, but his time was unreal.

As far as Vlad, the time says enough itself. Great swim, he will sweep sprint freestyle events.

And Shields, amazing swim. His butterfly looks so natural. It will be interesting to see what he goes tomorrow in the 100 fly (44??)

Reply to  Braden Keith
11 years ago

does Indy have underwater filming capability? if so, somebody must have bootleg footage of the underwaters. Based on the comments after London, it seems like breaststrokers have to get at least an extra kick to stay competitive. Cheating – yes. Fair – no. Reality – unfortunately.

jean Michel
11 years ago

Cordes is the man for the Us team in Barcelona on 100 breast and the medley relay . Ohhhh yeahhhhh . They found a 5 star breaststroker for the future ( 2016 olympics ) .

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner 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, …

Read More »