On Friday evening in Richmond, Virginia, a trio of teens swam under 54 seconds in the 100 meter butterfly final.
Aiden Hayes from the Sooner Swim Club in Oklahoma finished 2nd in 52.81; Arsenio Bustos from the Woodbridge Aquatic Club finished 4th in 53.25; and Garrett Boone from the Mecklenburg Swim Association in North Carolina won the B final in 53.97.
These three swimmers have something else in common besides all being high school seniors: all three are committed to swim at NC State University next fall.
This brought up the question as to whether or not three swimmers committed to the same program in the same incoming class had ever been sub-54 seconds in the 100 long course meter butterfly before.
After some digging, we can say conclusively that yes, it has happened, at least one other time.
The University of Texas’ incoming class in the fall of 2013 featured a trio of swimmers who had already broken that barrier in the 100 fly:
- Jack Conger, Machine Aquatics, 52.51
- Will Glass, City of Mobile Swim Association, 53.71
- Clark Smith, Denver Swim Academy, 53.97
Two of those names will be unsurprising, as two of those swimmers, Conger and Glass, went on to be All-American butterfliers for the Longhorns. In fact, Conger finished 6th in the 100 fly and Glass 7th as just freshman at the University of Texas.
The more surprising name on that list might be Clark Smith, who is the current American Record holder in the 1000 yard free. Incidentally, he didn’t qualify for NCAAs as a freshman while transitioning into that distance specialty but won the NCAA title in the 500 free as a sophomore.
As sophomores, Conger (2nd) and Glass (4th) joined teammates Joseph Schooling (1st), Tripp Cooper (3rd), Matt Ellis (6th), and John Murray (8th) with six finishers in the top eight of that event at the NCAA Championships- one of the most impressive single-event performances we’ve seen at an NCAA Championship meet.
NC State has the potential to be heading toward a similar outburst – their class of 2019 included Noah Bowers and Noah Henderson, both of whom had also been sub-54 on their way to Raleigh. Add to that 19-year old Swiss swimmer Noe Ponti, who is scheduled to join the team next fall as well (though international commits are less certain until they’ve actually arrived on campus), and this group will be stacked at least 6 deep of All-America candidates.
We can’t say definitively that these are the only two examples of this happening.
To figure this out, we pulled a list of all USA Swimming members who had been sub-54 before their 18th birthday. Because most long course swimming in the US is done in summers, this fixes most of the problems with “late birthday” types who might turn 18 well into their freshman years of college, though not necessarily all of them. We checked that specifically on every grouping named in this article.
Since 2001, that narrowed the list to 92 swimmers.
Then we went through and identified which class and team each swimmer was in, and looked for any places with two or more athletes.
From there, we went through to each identified team’s roster and looked to see if there were any international swimmers who might’ve made the cut. In call cases, the answers was ‘no.’ So, it’s possible that a school might have done it with 2 or 3 international swimmers as part of the group, but that would be a near-impossible task to track down.
A few that came close include USC in 2013 and Texas in 2020. The Trojans’ 2013 class included Santo Condorelli (53.11) and Michael Domagala (53.90). Dylan Carter, the Trinidad & Tobago Record holder in the 100 fly who has now been 52.6 in the long course 100 fly, had a best of 54.21 that we could identify before college.
The Texas men’s class of 2020, current freshmen, are close as well. Coby Carrozza had been 53.90 before matriculating to the Longhorn program, while Ethan Heasley had been 53.76. Another member of that class, Carson Foster, probably could have done it before coming to Texas, but his best time is a 54.34 done way back in the summer of 2017, when he was only 15. Given his drops in other events since then, he was probably sub-54 ‘caliber,’ but that’s a coulda-woulda-shoulda.
Other duos we found include David Nolan and Erich Peske in Stanford’s class of 2011, Kyle Whitaker and John Wojciechowski in Michigan’s class of 2010, and Andrew Seliskar and Michael Thomas in Cal’s class of 2015.