5 Fast Facts About David Nolan And 200 IM American Record

David Nolan wins the 100 backstroke.
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Commentary by Jeff Commings

TUCSON – David Nolan took down the legendary Ryan Lochte’s American record of 1:40.08 in the 200-yard individual medley last night at the Pac 12 championships with a 1:40.07. It’s another major accomplishment in an already-impressive list of accolades for the Pennsylvania native, including his national high school record in the same event.

Here are five things about Nolan and the history of the 200 IM American record:

1. Nolan is first to own national high school record and American record in the 200 IM.

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Nolan joins such great swimmers as Mark Spitz, Jeff Kostoff, Kate Zeigler, Abbey Weitzeil and Katie Ledecky as swimmers to own the American record and national high school record in the same event. Nolan is the only one to do it with two different swims, as the previously mentioned swimmers set the two records in the same race (for different events). Nolan is likely to own the high school record for many years, and we’ll see what is next for the Stanford senior in three weeks at the NCAA championships.

2. Lochte had owned the American record for 10 years.

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Ryan Lochte first set the American record in the 200 IM on Feb. 11, 2005 with a 1:41.76. With the exception of a 21-day period in which Michael Phelps owned the record with a 1:41.30 in March 2006, Lochte has enjoyed a monopoly in the event in short course yards. Lochte would lower the record three more times after that 2005 race, from 1:41.71 in March 2005 to 1:40.55 at the 2006 NCAA championships and 1:40.08 in December 2007. It’s not the longest streak of owning a short course American record, but it was an impressive run.

3. He’s the second swimmer from Stanford to own the 200 IM American record.

Dick Roth

Photo Courtesy: Stanford Athletics

The 200 IM has always been a strong event for Stanford. Besides Nolan, seven other Stanford athletes have won a total of nine NCAA titles, but only one of them got the brass ring of an American record. Dick Roth won the 1967 NCAA title with a 1:56.00, which would sadly only last two weeks, when Bill Utley swam a 1:55.90 in early April. The record is now in back on The Farm, and it’s likely that Nolan will be able to hold onto the record for more than two weeks.

4. Nolan outsplit Lochte on the freestyle leg.

David Nolan

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

We know Lochte is a great freestyler. He has Olympic medals to prove it. Could David Nolan be on the path to becoming one of the new guard in freestyle in the United States? Back in 2007 when Lochte swam his 1:40.08, he split 24.56. Last night, Nolan did what few can say they did, and beat Lochte on freestyle with a 24.11 split. Nolan was behind Lochte’s pace after backstroke and breaststroke. Perhaps Nolan’s plan was to ease off the gas a bit in the middle 100 yards to save up for a monster freestyle? We’ll see how the race strategy goes in three weeks at NCAAs.

It’s the 27th time the record has been set in March.
March David Nolan
Maybe it should come as no surprise that the short course yards American record in the 200 IM has been broken mostly in March. It’s the end of the collegiate season, where most of the short course yards racing is focused. Postgrads in the past 20 years have had more opportunities to break records, but most of the opportunities happen when college swimmers are rested, and that is often in March. Stunningly, the record was broken three times in one day in 1975, when Scott Brown and Frederick Tyler both broke LeRoy Engstrand’s 1:51.28 in the 200 IM prelims of the NCAA championships. Brown posted a 1:51.02 while Tyler claimed the record with a 1:50.98. Tyler lowered it further in finals with a 1:50.62. In the 21st century, the only times the record wasn’t broken in March were in February 2005 and November 2007 by Lochte.


  1. avatar

    Fun history of the SCY 200 IM! Thanks.

    May 13, 1967
    Spitz’s Junior years high school championships
    National High School Record/American Record double in TWO events, INCLUDING the 200 IM.

    100 Fly :49.1
    A month before this high school swim, Spitz became the first to break the 50 second barrier by winning the AAU nationals in Dallas at :49.9.

    200 IM 1:54.4
    (Spitz’ swim marked 4 consecutive months in 1967 that the 200 IM record had been either tied or broken by a different athlete. USC’s Roy Saari had done a 1:56.2 in April, 1965 which stood as the record until a) Stanford’s Greg Buckingham tied it 2-24-67 (Pac-8 meet? Cal dual meet?), b) Dick Roth broke that mark with a 1:56.0 (NCAAs, 3-23- 67; Roth had also held the record before Saari from a 4-4-64 swim at 1:58.2), c) On 4-6-67, Utley broke that mark with a 1:55.9 at the AAU Nationals, and d) Spitz in his May, 1967 high school meet.)

    Roth was a great Stanford IMer out of Haines’ Santa Clara horde, holding this 200 Y IM record twice, but was better known at the 400 where he twice broke the WR in 1964 and won Olympic gold that year, with his mark lasting until 1968. He also broke the WR in the 200 M IM twice in 1964 but the event was not offered at the Games.

    Roth got a double win in the 200-400 IM in helping Stanford break through for its first NCAA team title in 1967, but at least as to the 200 IM it seems clear he was not even the best Stanford swimmer of the era. Greg Buckingham, another Haines Santa Clara product that also swam at The Farm (see 2/24/67 listing above) broke the SCY 200 IM record IN-SEASON but swam the 500 at NCAAs instead — not exactly a weak event for him as he won it with the first sub-4:40 performance in history at 4:37.0 (or 4:37.16, depending on where you look). Buckingham held the World record in the 200 IM LCM at the time of Roth’s 1967 SCY record swim. Buckingham broke the 200 IM WR twice in 1966 and again in 1967. He eventually joined Roth in breaking WR in IMs 4 times when he broke the 400 record at the 1968 Santa Clara International meet. He earned Silver behind Charlie Hickcox in the 200 IM the next year in Mexico City. Since the discussion here is about the fine history of Stanford in the 200 IM, note that the Bronze behind Buckingham went to John Ferris, an Arden Hills product who swam at Stanford and then in 1969 was the first person ever under 1:50 in the SCY 200 Fly. Other Stanford Olympic 200 IM medalists included Pablo Morales, Silver in 1984 and Tom Wilkens, Bronze in 2000.

    Other 200 IM fun facts:
    Barrier breakers: 2:00.00 Chet Jastremski IU 1:59.4 4/7/62
    (better known as a breaststroke WR crusher)
    1:50:00 LeRoy Engstrand TENN 1:49.42 3/2/76
    1:40.00 ??????? (Maybe we can re-visit in a couple of weeks?)

    Most times breaking mark: Engstrand 3 times 1974, 75 and 76
    Lochte FLA 4 times twice in 2005, 2006, 2007
    Bill Barrett UCLA 5 times twice in 1980, twice in 81,
    once in 82

    Longest consecutive period holding mark Charlie Hickcox IU 1:52.60 3/68 – 3/71 3 years
    (Sorry Ryan; gotta count the Phelp hiccup) Scott Spann TX/Aub ? 1:48.26 3/77 – 3/80 3 years
    Nate Dusing TX 1:42.85 3/01 – 2/05 3yr-11 mo
    Dave Wharton USC 1:44.71 3/89 – 2/93 3yr-11 mo
    Greg Burgess FLA 1:43.97 – 1:43.52 3/93 – 3/01 8 yrs
    Barrett 1:47.93 – 1:45.00 3/80 – 3/89 9 years
    Lochte FLA 1:40.55 – 1:40.08 2/06 – 3/15 9 yrs-1 mo

  2. avatar

    Five Fast Facts….hmmm….where have I heard that before??

    Just teasing, Jeff. I’m not using it anymore, so it’s all yours.