American swimmer Tom Shields was noticeably absent from Friday’s opening day of the 2018 FINA World Cup Series in Kazan, Russia, where he was entered to race. Shields says that he isn’t in Kazan.
“I’m collecting myself after a bit of a disappointment and trying to plan a return to high level competition soon,” Shields said of his absence. He didn’t put a specific timeline on his return, saying that he’s regrouping after Nationals.
Shields finished 4th at the 2017 FINA World Cup Series in the overall standings, including a win in the 200 fly at the Hong Kong stop of the series (which was the only butterfly race Chad Le Clos in the entire series). In Friday’s 100 fly in Kazan (a long course meet, as will be Doha next week before the series reverts to its traditional short course meters), American Michael Andrew beat Le Clos 51.96 to 52.00 Russia’s Egor Kuimov tied Le Clos for 2nd place. Shields was entered in that event at the meet.
At US Nationals this summer, which also served as the qualifier for the 2018 Pan Pac Championships, 2019 World Championships, 2019 World University Games, and 2019 Pan American Games, Shields finished 5th in both the 100 fly (51.94) and 200 fly (1:55.25). His best times in those races are 51.03 and 1:55.09, respectively.
While there are lots of moving parts still, our most current projections have Shields qualifying to swim on the 2019 Pan American Games team.
The 27-year old Shields swam collegiately at Cal, and has been experimenting with self-training as he works his way back from a missed training block due to some health-related surgeries (deviated septum, tonsillectomy). He was a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, where he won gold as Michael Phelps’ butterfly understudy on the 400 medley relay. He earned the same medal in the same event at the 2015 World Championships, and also has 15 Short Course World Championship medals and 3 World University Games medals to his name.