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?