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Watch David Curtiss Post a 19.77 in the 50 Yard Free 4 Months Out From Trials


Pennington vs. Wilberforce Dual Meet

  • Wednesday, February 17, 2021
  • Michael T. Martin Aquatic Center, Pennington, New Jersey
  • Short Course Yards (25 yards)
  • Full Meet Video

18-year-old David Curtiss, the fastest American man in the 50 meter freestyle this season, ripped a 19.77 on the leadoff leg of the 200 yard free relay at a dual meet between the Pennington School and Wilberforce School on Wednesday.

This was within .35 seconds of the lifetime best time he swam in February 2020 which set a new National Independent High School record. The full meet was broadcasted here and you can watch Curtiss’ 200 free relay lead-off at the 1:23.00 timestamp.

On Wednesday Curtiss also contested the 200 yard free, touching the wall 1st with a time of 1:40.37. While he was .42 off his lifetime best, this swim broke the Pennington School record by nearly two seconds. The previous record was set 3 years ago by Jake McBride, a current sophomore at Drexel University. 

This season, Curtiss is ranked #5 in the world and #1 in the United States in the 50 meter freestyle:

  1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) – 21.73
  2. Thom de Boer (NED) – 21.74
  3. Maxim Lobanovszkij (HUN) – 21.77
  4. Yu Hexin (CHN) – 21.79
  5. David Curtiss (USA) – 21.87

4 months out from the predicted start of Wave 1 of the U.S. Olympic Trials, June 13th, his chances of qualifying for Team USA are looking strong. Behind him, this season is former American record holder and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Nathan Adrian who posted a 21.98 at the 2020 Stanford Invite.

Curtiss’ lifetime best was from the 2021 Pro Swim Series where he dropped .08 and maintained his place as the 3rd all-time fastest 17-18 year-old in the event. He is only behind the age group times of current American record holder Caeleb Dressel (21.53) and Michael Andrew (21.75).

Dressel’s American record stands at 21.04 which he posted at the 2019 World Championships. Andrew has only logged official times in short course meters this season, according to USA Swimming, so it is unclear where he stands in long course among the field of Olympic sprinting hopefuls. He swam his fastest 50 free in short course meters this season during match 8 of the 2020 International Swimming League (21.18).

Out of the all-time fastest list of American men from all age groups in the 50 meter free, Curtiss is now tied with 2016 Olympian Ryan Held for 16th place. Before his performance at the 2021 Pro Swim Series, Curtiss was tied with four-time Olympic medalist and former world record holder Jason Lezak for 18th place.

Competition year has been significantly limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. Racing opportunities in the United States were especially scarce from March through October of 2020, after which the U.S. Open took place in November. Event rankings with 4 months to go do not encompass the entirety of the competition we might see at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.