Watch Clark Smith Swim 4:08.82 in the 500 Free – Race Video

Video by Mel Stewart

Report by Hannah Hecht

Clark Smith posted a 4:08.82 in the 500 freestyle tonight at the University of Texas Invitational, breaking Cristian Quintero‘s Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center pool record of 4:10.02 and Michael Klueh‘s Longhorn record of 4:09.32. His swim was the fourth-fastest in history, just missing the American record 4:08.54 set by Peter Vanderkaay back in 2008.

Smith hit the wall nearly six seconds ahead of the second place swimmer, teammate Townley Haas, who swam a 4:14.07.

Both the pool record and Klueh’s school record are huge accomplishments. The Texas Swimming Center has stood since 1977, playing host to eight NCAA Division I Championships, including the meet two years ago in 2014. The pool has also been the host of multiple Grand Prix and Pro Swim Series meets, so its records are some of the fastest in the country.

Smith’s swim tonight was only slower than Vanderkaay’s 4:08.54 in 2008, Vanderkaay’s 4:08.60 in 2006, and Tom Dolan‘s 4:08.75 in 1995.

Smith, a junior, was reportedly shaved and tapered for this meet, but we can only expect him to go even faster, perhaps taking down Vanderkaay’s record, come March at NCAA’s, where his Texas team will be the defending champions. With times like this, hopefully this will even foreshadow an amazing swim from Smith in the 400 distance this summer in Omaha.

Check here for live results from the Texas Invitational as the meet goes on.

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Incredible swim first off! Didn’t think he would be under 4:10 until NCAAs but holy cow he destroyed. Now I know immediately people are going to jump to thinking he will go 4:06.99 or something crazy because this is only a “mid season taper.” But as Swimswam tweeted, word is he is tapered AND shaven. This doesn’t mean I think he will go slower, I think he will go faster, maybe break 4:08, but my money is on 4:08.21. Nonetheless, absolutely incredible. I cannot believe Tom Dolan went 4:08 in ’95. True legend. One cool thing about the swim was how relaxed his stroke looked until the last 50. Very impressive. Another great swim in the shadow of Smith was… Read more »


Haas was fairly well tapered/rested/shaved like all of the guys. Some were at varying degrees of rest though. Conger kept heavy on the weights later than all of the others, but also got some rest apparently. There is certainly room for some improvement from where they are at this meet as the team will be fully rested and tapered for the Big 12 camps and NCAAs. It is reasonable to expect Smith to go faster when he is fully rested since he is one of the hardest workers on the team and does not stop training until it is money time.


One of the hardest workers on Texas?

That’s high praise.

Phil Jackson

Tapered for Big 12? Who is this jokester? Foolish insight


Several members of the team did not make their NCAA invite times last year until Big 12 champs. To ensure they made them, they were fully tapered and shaved. Not so foolish – a fact.

Hook 'em

Fully tapered and shaved? Then just miraculously went faster a few weeks later at NCAAs? A shave does not equate to a full taper nor does a taper equate to a shave


Hook’em: I am obviously in error based on your expertise. Your logic clearly explains how swimmers cannot hold taper or maintain optimal performance from Olympic Trials through The Games. By your philosophy, athletes must go into Trials at less than their best without full rest/taper and wait to fully taper/rest until The Games It’s just the risk they must apparently accept since they cannot rest/taper twice in the similarly short period between BIG 12 and NCAA, and Trials and Olympic Games..

Hook 'em

Yes, you are in error. And yes, I am stating that, in fact, the overwhelming majority of swimmers cannot full taper twice within a month and perform better the second time around. Why do you think that the vast majority of swimmers swim slower at NCAAs compared to their conference meets? Or how about taking a look at all those athletes who go to last chance meets after their championship meets to get NCAA/OT cuts? Here is a hint: it is because they are full out tapering just to make the meet. With the rare exception of illness or injury, you can fairly accurately predict who was shaved/tapered at their conference meets based upon how they swim at NCAAs–at least… Read more »

Victor P

NCAAs are 4 months away. I’m sure he’ll knock at least another second off. Hope he can transition seamlessly to LC for Rio next year.

Victor P

What a beautiful stroke. Like a machine. Makes it look so easy.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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