Tom Shields Swims Lifetime Best in 200 Yard Fly at Cal-UCSD Dual

U.S. Olympian, gold medalist, and NCAA Champion Tom Shields swam a lifetime best in the 200 yard fly in an exhibition race during the Cal – UCSD dual meet on Friday evening

Shields swam a 1:38.80 in an exhibition race. That improves his old lifetime best of 1:39.65 that he did at the 2013 NCAA Championships. At the time, he tied Michael Phelps‘ 2010 swim as the fastest 200 yard fly in history.

In the almost-7 years since that swim, Shields’ swim slipped to the 19th-best performance in history. After Friday’s swim, however, he is now back to the 6th-best performance, and 4th-best performer, in history.

Shields’ last 200 yard fly came in 2017, where at the U.S. College Challenge he swam 1:41.59. This is his 3rd 200 yard fly since graduating college. His is the fastest time (all ages) in the country this season, half-a-second ahead of Sam Pomajevich’s 1:39.35 from the Minnesota Invite.

The 28-year old Shields has had an emotional year, posting on social media in December that he had attempted suicide a year earlier.

In long course in the summer of 2019, he swam 1:56.12 in the 200 fly. His best time is a 1:55.09 from 2014.

All-Time Top Performers, 200 Yard Fly

  1. Jack Conger, 1:37.35 – 2017
  2. Joseph Schooling, 1:37.97 – 2016
  3. Andreas Vazaios, 1:38.60 – 2019
  4. Tom Shields, 1:38.80 – 2020
  5. Zheng Quah, 1:38.83 – 2017
  6. Vini Lanza, 1:39.28 – 2019
  7. Dylan Bosch, 1:39.33 – 2014
  8. Sam Pomajevich, 1:39.35 – 2019
  9. Jan Switkoswki, 1:39.55 – 2018
  10. Michael Phelps, 1:39.65 – 2010

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9 months ago


9 months ago

Does anyone know how rested he was for this swim? 1:38.8 is a phenomenal time regardless, as it would’ve been right behind Vazaios at NCAAs last year, but if that was with a small amount of rest, he could probably break Conger’s American/U.S. Open record if he went for it. Not sure that really matters for someone trying to make the Olympic team, but it still puts Tom in great shape heading into the summer.

9 months ago

I am rooting for Tom as much as the next guy, but I honestly thought his best swims were behind him. I am very happy to have been wrong! Great swim!!

Coach John
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
9 months ago

no kidding, I’m rooting so hard for this guy! I hope the piano jokes are done now

Reply to  Coach John
9 months ago

pianodectomy was successful!!!

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  taa
9 months ago

There’s still LCM. I hope the piano jokes-if earned- keep coming. I seriously doubt, based on his own interviews, that the piano jokes had anything to do with the roots of his depression.

Reply to  Ol’ Longhorn
9 months ago

This is a rare comment by me, but ol longhorn is right. while “negative” (I didn’t really ever view them as super negative, I just got mad when I would get dm’s about it after bad swims, which I think is still fair, and hence I story-blasted about it once) comments are probably a prevalent thing that can f*** with people’s heads (especially younger folks), the piano stuff was absolutely not what lead to that. Years of self-maligned repetitive thought processes, mixed with perceived continuous failure in various aspects of my personal life (marriage, networking, friends, work, “I’m never gonna be funny/smart/successfulgood/whatever/etc enough”) did. Not jokes on a website I only frequent about twice a month (it’s just good to… Read more »

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  Tom
9 months ago

1) great honesty and with it, courage (2) Twice a month? It must be Mel who’s the put-off. (3) This is like Rudy Giuliani on SNL giving permission to be funny after 9/11. So can we still make piano jokes? (4) swim lights out.

Reply to  Tom
9 months ago

Tom! Your courage is pretty mesmerizing. I would think that Instagram post saved lives over and over and over. Great swimming too! Funny how things like that go together. Keep enjoying the pool.

Reply to  Tom
9 months ago

Biondi, Crocker, Shields in no particular order. My fly guy heros. Go get it this year, Tom!

Reply to  Tom
9 months ago

We’re all glad you’re still here. I know it’s not easy to believe others, especially as it comes to compliments, but here goes: you’re an Olympian, and you will be forever. You have so much to be proud of, and I hope that helps and nurtures you. But even more important than inspiring others as one of the greatest swimmers in the USA, you can inspire others towards improved mental health. That’s an even greater legacy.

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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