Watch David Curtiss Post a 19.77 in the 50 Yard Free 4 Months Out From Trials

Pennington vs. Wilberforce Dual Meet

  • Wednesday, February 17, 2021
  • Michael T. Martin Aquatic Center, Pennington, New Jersey
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards)
  • Full Meet Video

18-year-old David Curtiss, the fastest American man in the 50 meter freestyle this season, ripped a 19.77 on the leadoff leg of the 200 yard free relay at a dual meet between the Pennington School and Wilberforce School on Wednesday.

This was within .35 seconds of the lifetime best time he swam in February 2020 which set a new National Independent High School record. The full meet was broadcasted here and you can watch Curtiss’ 200 free relay lead-off at the 1:23.00 timestamp.

On Wednesday Curtiss also contested the 200 yard free, touching the wall 1st with a time of 1:40.37. While he was .42 off his lifetime best, this swim broke the Pennington School record by nearly two seconds.

The previous record was set 3 years ago by Jake McBride, a current sophomore at Drexel University. 

This season, Curtiss is ranked #5 in the world and #1 in the United States in the 50 meter freestyle in long course thanks to a 21.87 he swam at the Pro Swim Series stop in Richmond in January:

  1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) – 21.73
  2. Thom de Boer (NED) – 21.74
  3. Maxim Lobanovszkij (HUN) – 21.77
  4. Yu Hexin (CHN) – 21.79
  5. David Curtiss (USA) – 21.87

4 months out from the predicted start of Wave 1 of the U.S. Olympic Trials, June 13th, his chances of qualifying for Team USA are looking strong. Behind him, this season is former American record holder and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nathan Adrian who posted a 21.98 at the 2020 Stanford Invite.

Curtiss’ lifetime best was from the 2021 Pro Swim Series where he dropped .08 and maintained his place as the 3rd all-time fastest 17-18 year-old in the event. He is only behind the age group times of current American record holder Caeleb Dressel (21.53) and Michael Andrew (21.75).

Dressel’s American record stands at 21.04 which he posted at the 2019 World Championships. Andrew has only logged official times in short course meters this season, according to USA Swimming, so it is unclear where he stands in long course among the field of Olympic sprinting hopefuls. He swam his fastest 50 free in short course meters this season during match 8 of the 2020 International Swimming League (21.18).

Out of the all-time fastest list of American men from all age groups in the 50 meter free, Curtiss is now tied with 2016 Olympian Ryan Held for 16th place. Before his performance at the 2021 Pro Swim Series, Curtiss was tied with four-time Olympic medalist and former world record holder Jason Lezak for 18th place.

Competition year has been significantly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. Racing opportunities in the United States were especially scarce from March through October of 2020, after which the U.S. Open took place in November. Event rankings with 4 months to go do not encompass the entirety of the competition we might see at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Why should we care? That’s not even that fast.

Tinky Winky
2 years ago

19.77 would have been 40th place a Div 1 NCAAs in 2019. That’s a fast dual high school yard meet time but talking about sub 22 50 LCM as a conversion doubting that.

Reply to  Tinky Winky
2 years ago

His 21.87 is not a conversion, it’s a real life 50 long course freestyle.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Correct, I was wondering HOW could he throw down a smokin’ 5th best in world real life 50 LCM time of 21.87 a few weeks ago in Richmond & then only throw down a 19.77 for SCY – with a flip turn no less.

small bird
2 years ago

id be curious to find the 50 free race with largest time differential from different swimmers. looks like we had some 29s / 30s there.

Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

So 19.77 SCY translates to 21.87 in LCM? Am I missing something? Was he tapered some for San Antonio?
Also, I agree about the “plowing” through the water & head position in the post of LetThemKick.

Last edited 2 years ago by Coach Mike 1952
NC Fan
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

Swimming in a high school pool at a high school dual meet in a lane next to a high school female not in a tech suit probably isn’t conducive to fast times. Yes, he put on a suit but he’s likely in the midst of heavy training, so 19.77 seems pretty decent for that setting. For Richmond (not San Antonio), he explained his training to Coleman with a lot of lifting and out of water workouts during COVID. The setting in Richmond was definitely more conducive to fast swimming. And he was faster in prelims there than finals.

2 years ago

Possible but unlikely he makes the team. No way he beats dressel, I don’t see him beating Andrew and Adrian and others could also push for a spot

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

Hot Take: Santo Condorelli switches nationality back to US and sweeps all the events at Trials while sporting the full mustache

Reply to  25Backstroke
2 years ago

I would imagine he will have five more nation changes by the Olympics, finally settling on Equatorial Guinea

Human Ambition
Reply to  25Backstroke
2 years ago

Speed Kills ᕙ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)ᕗ

Mr Piano
Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

He’s probably gonna beat Adrian in the 50, Adrian hasn’t been under 21.8 since 2016

Human Ambition
Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

These Olympic years traditionally means a handfull breakthrough swimmers. Curtiss could definitely be one of 2021’s Comets.
ᕙ( • ‿ • )ᕗ

2 years ago

Can’t wait to see what he will do at Trials. He looks like he could be ever faster if his head was just a touch higher so that it didn’t ride under the bow wave he creates.

Reply to  LetThemKick
2 years ago

The 50 is the event with the highest speed therefore drag matters the most. I would assume going under 22 requires some playing with technique and he probably found this head position to work best for him

Human Ambition
Reply to  sggs
2 years ago

Some say, don’t mend what’s not broken. But among the swimmers I have watched in practice that calibrate technical details the most are Sarah Sjöström, Caeleb Dressel, Katinka Hosszu, Lilly King…

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

Read More »