On April 24th, 2014, Michael Phelps officially made his competitive swimming comeback, marking his pursuit towards the 2016 Olympics. However, on September 30th of that same year, Phelps was arrested with a DUI charge that resulted in ‘a mutual agreement’ that he would not be on the 2015 Worlds Championships team. While Phelps could not compete at the World Championships in 2015, he was still eligible to compete at the 2015 U.S. Nationals. Phelps pushed forward with his training, but needed to prove to himself that he was ready for Rio.
While Phelps also had the 200 fly and 200 IM in his focus, themen’s 100 fly finals at both the U.S. Nationals and World Championships were scheduled on the same date, August 8th, 2015. Phelps was now in an optimal position to redeem himself of losing his Worlds spot, paving a new goal for himself in 2015: to become the unofficial 100 fly World champion with the top time in the world. However, this would be a more difficult goal to achieve than what one would think.
One hour before the start of the men’s 100 fly preliminaries at U.S. Nationals, South African Chad le Clos won the men’s 100 fly World title at 50.56. In order for Phelps to become the unofficial World champion in the 100 fly, he would have to beat le Clos’ 50.56. Phelps’ last swim under 51 seconds was at the 2012 Olympics, where he swam 50.86 in semi-finals before clinching the Olympic title in 51.21.
Roughly an hour later, Phelps won the last heat of the men’s 100 fly prelims at the U.S. Nationals with a 52.12, qualifying 2nd into the A-final. While the World final was 24 hours after semi-finals, Phelps only had roughly 9 hours between prelims and finals at nationals. On top of the smaller recovery, Phelps would have to pace his own race to hit 50.55 or faster since no other American in the 2015 national final had swum under 51 seconds.
Racing Against the Clock
When watching the 2015 World final, the last 30 meters was a shear dog-fight towards the wall. Luckily, Phelps’ back-half speed is his racing specialty. About 10 hours after the World final, Phelps dove in to the national 100 fly final. He opened his race in a 24.10, marking Phelps’ 6th-fastest opening 50 from any major international final. After surging to the lead off the wall, the rest of the race would have to be up to Phelps racing against the clock.
At the finish, Phelps clocked in a 50.45, officially marking the fastest male 100 fly time in 2015. When Phelps closed his race, he split 26.35, which marked his fastest closing 50 stacked against his other closing 50s at a major international 100 fly final. His 2015 national title time became his 3rd-fastest performance ever and fastest textile swim.
Fastest Closing 50s: Major International 100 Fly Finals
|Rank||Final||1st 50||2nd 50||Time|
|1||2015 U.S. Nationals||24.10||26.35||50.45|
|5||2014 Pan Pacs||24.62||26.67||51.29|
Best 100 Fly Times All-Time
Best 100 Fly Times Since 2010*
|1||49.82||2009 World Champs||1||50.45||2015 U.S. Nationals|
|2||50.22||2009 U.S. Nationals||2||50.65||2010 U.S. Nationals|
|3||50.45||2015 U.S. Nationals||3||50.71||2011 World Champs|
|4||50.48||2009 Quebec Cup||4||50.86||2010 Pan Pacs|
|4||50.48||2009 World Champs||4||50.86||2012 Olympics|
*not including swims after 8/5/16