David Curtiss Goes 19.42, Sets National Prep Record in 50 Free (Video)

David Curtiss, right, with Pennington School coach George Ward. Staff Photo

When David Curtiss won the 50 freestyle title at the Eastern Interscholastic Championships as a freshman in 19.97 seconds, he already had his eyes on more. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility, the Pennington School sprinter figured, to take that time into uncharted territory in his high school career.

By his junior season, he’s achieved one of the biggest goals.

Curtiss went 19.42 in the 50 free Friday, taking down Ryan Murphy’s eight-year-old national prep record of 19.54.

“Last year, I went a 19.7 and I was like, oh darn, I’m so close,” Curtiss told Swimming World. “Ryan Murphy is one of the best swimmers out there, an Olympian, so that number seemed pretty, pretty far away from me and I didn’t really think I could get it (last year). This year, I had confidence in myself and it paid off.”

Curtiss was the first swimmer to break 20 seconds in the storied history of Easterns. He set the meet record again as a sophomore, going 19.70 in prelims before repeating as champion in 19.79.

Friday, he eased to a 19.92 in prelims before blasting the 19.42 in finals. He’d been 19.75 at Y Nationals, the native of Yardley, Pennsylvania, representing Hamilton Area Y in New Jersey, as well as setting the long-course Y Nationals record in the 50.

Curtiss picked up a silver medal in the 50 free at the World Junior Championships last summer. The N.C. State commit is coming off a TYR Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville in January where he finished second in the 50 free, just behind NC State’s Nyls Korstanje and ahead of Americans Ryan Held, Jacob Molacek and Zach Apple, with whom he’ll be contending for an Olympic spot at Trials in June.

Easterns is a meet that has always ranked high in Curtiss’s priorities, as evidenced by his annual time drops. Those gains reflect how seriously he takes competing for his school.

“To me this meet is no different than it was last year,” Curtiss said. “It’s almost just as important as World Juniors because I’m representing the U.S. at World Juniors but here I’m representing my school. And both are just as important to me.”

“This is two years in a row that he has done his personal-best for the Pennington School,” Pennington coach George Ward said. “I always say that any year-round swimmer who does their personal-best for us is an honor. To have a performance like that, obviously it’s something that we’ll never forget.”


  1. Paul Murphy

    What a great swim!

  2. avatar
    Dean Hutchinson

    Well done David Curtiss!

  3. Ed Eckels

    Congrats to David!

  4. Joe A Volpe

    That’s a tall drink of water!

  5. Lyle Campbell

    The second place guy must have been pretty fast also

  6. Ja Bounce

    Stroke count by 25’s 9, 14. Great swim D.C!!!

  7. David McCormick

    Dylan Rudisill remember watching this kid at TYR?

  8. Dylan Rudisill

    David McCormick yeah when he was like 14 going 20.8

  9. avatar
    Karen and Jan

    Amazing and inspiring to see. Go Pennington! Go USA! Go David!

  10. avatar
    Dave Schmidt, Penn Aquatics

    It’s great to see you having all this success. Go get ’em at trials!

  11. avatar
    Pennington Swimming

    David- It’s been an incredible 3 years! You never cease to amaze us! A huge congratulations from your Pennington Swimming family!
    Coach Ward