Coleman Stewart Not at Short Course Worlds But 100 Back World Record Much Faster Than Winning Time

coleman stewart
100 backstroke world-record holder Coleman Stewart is not at Short Course Worlds -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Coleman Stewart Not at Short Course Worlds But 100 Back World Record Much Faster Than Winning Time

This week at the Short Course World Championships, the United States was set to have Hunter Armstrong and Shaine Casas in the men’s 100 backstroke. Results from long course, primarily this summer’s Olympic Trials, were used as the selection criteria, and after Ryan Murphy declined a spot in Abu Dhabi, those were the next two men in line for succession.

Even when the ISL season began and former NC State standout Coleman Stewart broke the SCM 100 back world record with a 48.33, those procedures did not change. Stewart actually had a much better shot of getting onto the Short Course Worlds team in the 100 fly or 100 free, both events in which he qualified for the final at Olympic Trials, but he ended up out of the mix entirely despite his success in the course in which the meet would be held.

Following Friday’s 100 back final in Abu Dhabi, no one from USA Swimming can be too disappointed with the result after Shaine Casas blasted out the race from the beginning and held on to claim gold, touching in 49.23 and edging out Olympic silver medalist Kliment Kolesnikov by 0.23. Casas moved into a tie for 13th all-time in the event and fifth-fastest all-time among Americans.

But while Casas was swimming the race of his life, there was no other American in the field. Armstrong ended up pulling out Thursday’s prelims for undisclosed reasons, leaving the task to Casas. And even though Casas claimed, his time of 49.23 was a whopping nine tenths behind the time that Stewart swam in August. That’s an enormous margin, especially considering the eight swimmers in the 100 back final all touched within seven tenths of each other.

Later on, during the ISL playoffs, Stewart struggled to recapture that early brilliance, and he was consistently finishing outside the top-three in the 100 back, but when it really counted and his team needed him, Stewart raced to a second-place finish in the ISL final. He swam a 49.13 in that race, just behind winner and Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Rylov (48.94). So even off his best, Stewart was faster than the world-title-winning time.

This is the Short Course World Championships, so not every elite swimmer is even entered in the meet, but Stewart has reiterated that he would have gladly accepted the chance to race in Abu Dhabi. Given that his time from only 13 days prior would have won the race and especially given Armstrong’s absence, it’s a bummer for Stewart that the selection procedures worked against him.