Michael Andrew, the breakthrough U.S. swimmer of 2018, summed his 2019 in an Instagram caption.
“Super cool to be the first man in history to final in all four 50s [50m events] at a world Champs,” he posted last summer, “but unfortunately no individual medals.”
Andrew, who made national news turning professional at age 14 in 2013, made waves in his first Tyr Pro Series final of the Olympic year.
He won the 100m breaststroke in 59.14 seconds, lowering his personal best by .24 in Des Moines on Thursday. He beat a field including every other American to make an Olympic or world team in the event dating to 2013.
Andrew put the domestic swim scene on notice, three months before the Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games.
“That was huge,” Andrew said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “As an elite athlete, we always want more, so I’m already thinking about all the things I did wrong.”
What he did right recently: studying the stroke of Adam Peaty, the Brit who owns the 17 fastest times in history.
“Just trying to figure out how to maximize my body for all it’s worth in the pool, and I think we’re getting close to it,” said Andrew, who won the 100m breast at 2018 Nationals but was 19th at 2019 Worlds. “I think that 58 [-second barrier] is going to be an easy one to break.”
The Pro Series stop continues with more finals Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. Full results are here.
In other Thursday events, Katie Ledecky won the 400m free by 7.15 seconds in 3:59.66. Ledecky is one of three women to ever break four minutes in the event, which she has now done 19 times.
“I’m really locked in right now,” said Ledecky, whose world record from the Rio Olympics is 3:56.46.
World silver medalist Hali Flickinger won the 200m butterfly in 2:06.11, her third-fastest time ever. Regan Smith, the 18-year-old who broke both backstroke world records at the 2019 Worlds, took second in 2:06.39, taking .87 off her personal best. Smith improved to second-fastest in the world since the start of 2019, trailing only Flickinger.
The women’s 200m fly is the only Olympic pool swimming event where the U.S. did not earn a medal in at least one of the last two Games. In fact, its last medal was Misty Hyman‘s gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But with Flickinger, Smith and Katie Drabot, the U.S. now has the world’s three fastest in the event since the start of 2019.
Olympic and world champion Lilly King won the 100m breast in 1:05.74, a time bettered since the start of 2018 by only herself and Russian rival Yuliya Efimova.
Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel was upset by Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey in the 100m freestyle. Haughey clocked a national record 53.30, edging Manuel by .25. Manuel won last year’s world title in 52.04, an American record.
Zach Apple won the men’s 100m free after Nathan Adrian and Caeleb Dressel failed to qualify for the eight-man A final out of the morning heats. Apple touched in 48.59, edging Adrian’s winning time from the B final.
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