Nathan Adrian may have looked better in the 50m freestyle last year, but his heart still savors the 100m free.
Adrian, the Olympic 100m free champion by .01 of a second in London, matched his fastest 100m freestyle since 2013 at a Pro Swim Series meet in Orlando on Saturday night.
He clocked 48.05 seconds, beating a field that included Michael Phelps (third place, 49.57). Full meet results are here.
“My training’s been showing a lot of speed in the 50 recently, but the 100’s my baby, that’s the one that I always focus on,” Adrian said on NBCSN. “That’s the one we’re constantly working at. To see it kind of pay off a little bit right there is really exciting.”
Put Adrian’s time in perspective.
It’s his fastest 100m free in a meet other than the Olympics, World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and U.S. Championships, summer meets that swimmers train to peak for.
This is March. Adrian is training to peak at the Olympic trials in June and July.
It’s the second-fastest 100m free in the world this year, behind Australian Cameron McEvoy‘s 47.56. However, Australian swimmers must train to peak earlier than the rest of the world, since their Olympic trials are in April.
All told, it’s a great sign for Adrian, who dropped in the 100m free from gold at the 2012 Olympics to bronze at the 2013 World Championships to a tie for seventh at the 2015 World Championships.
Meanwhile, Adrian broke the American record in the 50m free at the 2015 World Championships in the semifinals and then earned silver in the final.
He’s looking like the favorite in both the 50m free and the 100m free at the U.S. Olympic trials. Adrian was third in the 50m free and first in the 100m free at the 2012 Olympic trials.
Meanwhile, Phelps would like to at the very least show he deserves a place on the 4x100m free relay in Rio. He’s been a part of the relay final quartet at the last three Olympics but ranked 20th in the U.S. in the event last year.
However, Phelps did not contest the 100m free at the August U.S. Championships, the meet that he peaked for in 2015. His time on Saturday ranked No. 6 in the U.S. this year.
“I’d like to get a good 100 between now and trials and potentially be on that relay,” Phelps said Saturday.
Phelps’ meet included a victory in the 100m butterfly Thursday and a third and a fourth in two of his non-primary events, the 100m free and 100m back, the last two nights.
“I’m always so hard on myself,” Phelps said on NBCSN, lamenting not having longtime coach Bob Bowman with him at a meet for the first time since he believed 2007 (Bowman is coaching the Arizona State men at the Pac-12 Championships this weekend). “Some of the small things really just weren’t there. My finish in the 100m fly was kind of blah. My finish in the 100m back wasn’t that great. My freestyle is still a little choppy.”
Phelps, while sitting shirtless in the TV booth, said he’s probably “the most cut” he’s been in his life.
“I don’t know if I should say this, but I’m going to,” Phelps said. “Not having a drink for over a year and a half, it’s incredible. … I can really tell the difference in my body.”
Phelps said in August that he gave up drinking alcohol after his Sept. 30, 2014, DUI arrest and that he won’t drink again through Rio, if ever.
In other events Saturday, Missy Franklin won the 200m backstroke with the fifth-fastest time in the world this year. Franklin captured the 100m back on Friday in her fastest time since the World Championships in August.
In the women’s 100m free on Saturday, both Franklin and Katie Ledecky were beaten by Simone Manuel.
Manuel, who finished sixth in the 100m free at Worlds in August, clocked 54.27. She was followed by Olympic 200m free champion Allison Schmitt in 54.56 and Ledecky in 54.67. Franklin was eighth in 55.83.
The Pro Swim Series continues with a meet in Mesa, Ariz., from April 14-16.
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