Zach Apple Scorches 46.8 Split as USA Swims Fastest Textile 400 FR Relay Ever


The USA men came through with a new Championship Record in the 400 Free Relay on the first night of finals at the 2019 FINA World Championships. Caeleb Dressel, who first broke the American Record as the leadoff member of this relay in 2017, swam his fastest time since the last Worlds meet with a 47.63 to start. He handed off to Blake Pieroni, who held the lead in 47.49.

Their 3rd leg man, however, really brought the thunder. Zach Apple pulled the Americans further ahead with a huge 46.86 split. Nathan Adrian, the anchor staple of this relay over the last several years, then sealed the deal with a 47.08 split.

American Relay Splits:

Their 3:09.06 cleared the USA’s former mark of 3:09.24 from 2009 Worlds and is within a second of the World Record. It’s also the fastest textile suit relay in history.

Apple’s split brings up an interesting possibility of whether he may be considered for the anchor position on the medley relay. With Dressel likely swimming the fly leg, he could be used on the prelims or finals relay in that spot. Pieroni is the other man slated to swim the individual 100 free here.

The coaches will have several men to choose from, as Adrian is also a possibility. He’s been consistently reliable as the USA’s anchor leg and was nearly sub-47 himself tonight. Apple, however, was over 6 tenths faster than Pieroni and had the fastest split of any man in the Worlds field tonight.

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Philip Johnson

I would put Apple on the medley relay. Nothing personal, but 46.8 is too good.


I’d say Adrian in prelims and Apple in finals unless Pieroni throws down something big individually. Sure maybe both of them might not be able to replicate those with their second taper/recovery respectively, but the split difference over Pieroni is worth the risk.

Ol' Longhorn

He’s on fire no doubt. But Adrian is the master of the hold-em-off swim. That’s a totally different strategy than the we’re really close, or come from behind, and not necessarily the best for the fastest split. Plus, the psychological advantage to the team as a stabilizing force (Wilson a novice, Dressel erratic so far), and to psyche out opponents is immense. If you’re an anchor on another relay going up against Adrian, somewhere in your mind, you’re saying it’s over. If you’re going up against Zapple, you’re saying “Who?” and “I’ve got a chance.” Zapple is going to be insane come OTs.

Steve Nolan

lol @ “Dressel erratic so far.”

Ol’ Longhorn

He went 47.9 unshaved a month ago and “he’s a big taper swimmer.” You’re right. I should’ve said “consistent” with his post-2017 free.


Training with Coley has made a huge difference He has really ramped it up this past year.

Ol’ Longhorn

Training with Pieroni is the difference. It’s why he’s staying there.


He doesn’t train with Coley, he trains with Mike Westphal


Why Mike is a distance coach? Dosent Mike coach Zane? So Zach trains with Zane? Coley is at Bama.


And Perioni


With all respect to Adrian, and unless Blake goes 47.2 individually I think you have to reward that swim by Apple. It is a week later, the medley, that’s a long time with no racing on a re-taper. Unless he wasn’t fully tapered in Naples. If you play the “what if” game, the Americans can absolutely challenge the WR here next summer. You have Dressel who I still think has a 47.0 or faster lead off in him and then Apple and Adrian have been sub 47 rolling, then Farris was 47.08 in Naples and there’s a bunch of other guys that can go 47-mid to high and have another year to train. But a Dressel/Apple/Farris/Adrian relay that goes 47.1/46.9/47.1/47.1… Read more »

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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