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USC head coach Dave Salo is pulling off some magic this season. Where it seems like he’d be bumping up against his scholarship limit, he’s managed to get verbal commitments from no-fewer-than three bona-fied male stars this season: First it was Steven Stumph (here), then it was Michael Domagala (here), and now it’s Reed Malone out of Illinois.
Malone first made headlines last year as a part of the New Trier High School 400 free relay that broke the National High School Record last season, becoming the first high school relay to go under 3 minutes. That, however, was only the tip of the iceberg for Malone, as he rode that momentum straight into the national awareness at the NCSA Junior National Championships a month later.
Malone, who is on the younger end of his grade, dominated the male headlines of that meet, including a 3:52.38 in the 400 long course freestyle, which is the third-best time by a 15-16 American in history.
Malone will add to USC as a freestyler, butterflier, and IM’er. In yards, he’s been a 44.6 in the 100 free, a 1:37.72 in the 200 free, a 4:19.39 in the 500, and a 15:27 in the 1650. He could be an NCAA scorer in the 500 as a freshman, and should be on at least two free relays as well.
He’s only been a 22.98 in the 50 free, but seeing as how that’s slower than the opening half of his best 100, he’s got better in him.
In the butterfly events, Malone has been 48.7/1:46.7. The Trojans are pretty stout in the 100 fly, but most of their butterfliers excel in the sprints so he still has a lot of value for the program in the 200. He has also been a 1:48.35 in the 200 IM.
The best guess is that his career will shape similarly to that of one Clement Lefert before leaving the program to focus on the Olympics for France last season, as a 200 freestyler, 500 freestyler, and 200 butterflier. Malone comes from the same program that produced Sam Metz, who recently had good early success for the Cal Bears.
Malone’s progression has been impressive. For example, in the last three years, he’s dropped 11, 12, and 6 seconds respectively to become one of the few high school swimmers in history under 4:20. We’re a big fan of Malone’s potential and think that he could ultimately emerge as one of the superstars in this year’s class.