Tom Shields reveals secrets to long course butterfly success (Video Interview)

Tom Shields has been coming on strong, well, pretty much sense he jumped in the pool at assumably age 3. But! He’s been coming on strong specifically in the long course pool and international scene since 2013 when his college career came to a close.

We all remember last summer when he swept the olympic butterfly events at Nationals, highlighted by touching out the one and only Michael Phelps in the 100 fly en route to the victory and national title. Was it just me, or last summer did his stroke look completely different than anything else we had seen out of the underwater specialist? It was as if a different Tom Shields had stepped up on the blocks at that meet.

Since then, I’ve noticed that Tom has kept that stroke. I decided to ask him about it this weekend in Charlotte, where he again was able to nab the 100 fly from Phelps’ grasp, who ended up getting 3rd in the event to both Shields and Ryan Lochte. Tom confirmed that he did, in fact, change his stroke completely to be more accommodating to long course swimming and, in his words, survival.

I like the new Shields stroke, especially when it brings him the success that it has so far. Now the only question is, can he carry this momentum onto the international stage this summer as he represents the red, white, and blue in both butterfly events in Kazan at worlds?

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Swimmer A
6 years ago

So here is Shield’s 2 fly stroke before (well, at least 100 of it, the rest is Luchsinger):

And here is Shield’s 2 fly stroke now:

You can see how aggressive that catch is in the 2013 race. I imagine that would be pretty painful to hold on for a 2 fly LC. The 2014 LC race looks good though. He loses a little bit of the connection on that last 50 and the elbows bend a lot when he starts to fatigue, but you can afford to do that when you build over a second lead going into the… Read more »

6 years ago

It’s interesting, the number of butterfly strokes out there, just like BR. He’s had this success with this stroke and if I’m not mistaken, Tyler McGill had a much earlier catch as did Wu Peng. Not arguing with the WR holder and current Olympic Champs butter

6 years ago

*or the current Olympic Champ in the 200 butterfly. All good stuff to know. As fast as Chad is, it’s effective, but man his fly is a bit ugly..

wave rider
6 years ago

Tom Shields has really improved his 100 LCM fly. 51 low is really quite good based on his scy performances. Tom Shields was never any thing extra ordinary above water in the short course fly. He was about equal to other top flyers at the time in the ncaa, he just crushed everyone underwater which is why he won. His above water speed was deceptive.

He was a sub 45 second 100 backstroker and I have never seen anyone question his long course 100 bk. He has never swam a 100 bk in a major meet. His top time is from an in season meet in 2011 57.41. This just goes to show how deadly Tom Shields underwaters are.… Read more »

6 years ago

This guy is a true student of the game. pull up ALL his interviews he knows his stroke and he WORKS hard at it. From NCAAs on, he’s always talking about his up-kick, his position in the water, his kick count, etc.. I am sure the other top swimmers know this too, but I feel he is much more of a student. I used to check him off, but now i think for 100 FLY, lcm, him and phelps should be top 2. He will also contend in 2 fly and maybe 2 free

6 years ago

Very insightful interview from the champion of the USA. These days the difference between Gold and 4th place can be a matter of a couple of tenths. He is all over the detail and the extra focus gives him a better chance of winning. If you think about his competition….both Chad and MP could do with more attention to detail. Not looking around would give chad a couple of tenths, and hitting his walls every time would do the same for the GOAT. Shields might not be “as good” as either of them, but that does not mean that he will finish behind them. Keep up the good work Tom.

Joel Lin
6 years ago

You’re too modest Tom. 1:55 is a bit better than good in my book. Love to see him hit sub 51 this summer and get into the 1:54s in the 200.

Chris Burke
6 years ago

Love the term: “Survival”.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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