Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are SCM World Records Easier?

This woman has a SCM world record. Do you know who she is?

Before we begin- let me assure you all that I will resume posting in earnest in approximately two weeks. Why? Because the fall signing period will arrive and I will have my life back again. Until then, please feel free to do exactly what I'm doing and head on over to www.theswimmerscircle.com. Also, forgive them for their overly long URL. Today, I'm rousing myself up to post because of something I read there. Something that I disagree with.

I'm hear to talk about their announcement of Missy Franklin's WR 200 backstroke. I'm not going to comment on Franklin herself for fear that NCAA president Mark Emmert will send his secret police to "disappear" me. In the opening line, Braden Keith states:

"If you thought the long course World Records were difficult to break, the short course World Records are even tougher. All of the extra walls, where the polyurethane suits gave an extra advantage, made for some absurdly fast times"

Stop the presses. SCM world records are tougher? I disagree. I understand the point that Braden is making but I think that the post misstates just how fragile SCM world records can be. Let's look at a little data. 

Looking at the 200 backstroke world record progression (from Wikipedia) we can see that the long course world record in the 200 backstroke stood very recently for a 17 year period, from 1991 to 2008. The page only charts the 200 backstroke world record from 2001 on, but lists four record breaking swims since that time. The long course 200 back changed hands four times over roughly the same time period. 

Looking for more evidence? Check out some of the other events. While a ton of attention was put on Ryan Lochte's world record 200 IM swim this past summer, there was much less fanfare when in December of 2010 he lowered the world record by nearly 1.5 seconds in the short course version of the race. Which record do you think was harder to break. In one race, he rested the world record from himself (and Phelps before that). Can you guess the other? It was Darian Townsend, a fine swimmer but certainly not a Phelps or Lochte.

Short course world records have always been fairly haphazard, and with good reason. Few swimmers organize their training schedules around the biggest short course meets. The result is such that many of the SCM world records fall into two categories. Either they are held by swimmers who are majorly better at short course and thus put all of their stock into short course season (Peter Mankoc being the best recent example). Or they are set by the best swimmers in the world simply swimming another meet with a little bit of rest (see Lochte's 200 IM above). 

To conclude, I think that the next few years are going to find that SCM world records are broken with more frequency than LCM records, simply because of their haphazard nature. 

Just one man's opinion. I'm going to go back to sleep now. 


  1. Is that France's Diane Dui Buyet? 100 Fly WR holder SCM!

  2. Haha, I only just spotted it! Knew right away.(Have an advantage as I know her) lol