Jack Alexy Carries Momentum From 2023 Breakout Season to Knoxville Performance and Push Toward Paris

Jack Alexy -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Jack Alexy Shows Progress From 2023 Breakout in Knoxville Performance

The most surprising positive swims for the United States in 2023 came courtesy of two California Golden Bears who swam huge lifetime bests to turn promising talent into individual medals at the World Championships, and the swims by Jack Alexy and Dare Rose went a long way toward filling the sprinting shoes of Caeleb Dressel. Alexy won silver medals in the 50 and 100 freestyle at the World Championships while Rose took bronze in the 100 butterfly before both swimmers swam on a 400 medley relay for the U.S. men and helped the U.S. men deliver gold.

Last year, Alexy was coming off a disappointing 2022 long course season but an exceptional sophomore campaign at Cal, where he topped out at second place in the 100-yard free at the NCAA Championships. Considered a relay contender at Nationals, he ended up winning the 100 free and taking second in the 50 free. A near-disastrous start in his 100 free semifinal at Worlds almost knocked him out of the final, but Alexy rebounded to earn the first of his two silver medals from lane eight before matching that finish in the splash-and-dash.

These results have placed Alexy, who will turn 21 this week, into a frontrunner position five months out from U.S. Olympic Trials. Alexy is now in a position where he could contribute to four medals for the U.S. at the Paris Olympics; he won five at Worlds last year, but the mixed 400 free relay is not an Olympic event. And the early indications are that Alexy is building upon his 2023 results.

Consider his results at last weekend’s Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tenn., where Alexy won the 100 free by more than four tenths over Cal training partner and 2022 World Championships finalist Brooks Curry. Alexy swam a mark of 48.28 in the morning before going 48.24 in the final. That’s almost one second off his best time of 47.31 from the Fukuoka final but much faster than Alexy had ever been prior to last year’s Nationals (48.69).

The time was also the quickest any American has recorded in the 100 freestyle at a Pro Series (or similar) meet in years. And only three U.S. swimmers have ever gone faster at a non-championship meet (selection meet or international competition), and two of them have won individual Olympic gold medals in the event.

Dressel was the first U.S. swimmer to ever break 48 in-season, with times of 47.86, 47.90 and 47.97 in 2019, in the months before Dressel swam the fastest time of his career (46.96) on the way to his second world title in the event. Dressel also went 48.00 in 2021, not long before he held off Kyle Chalmers for Olympic gold. Meanwhile, former Cal great Nathan Adrian swam in-season times between 48.00 and 48.29 on 10 different occasions between 2013 and 2017.

And most recently, another of the emerging U.S. sprinters went sub-48 at a non-championship meet as Chris Guiliano swam a time of 47.98 in the long course prelims at the Ohio State Invitational in November, although it’s worth noting that most college teams receive rest prior to their midseason invites.

Only one of these swift swims was a January performance, with Adrian clocking 48.26 at the Pro Series meet in Austin, Texas, a decade ago. Alexy’s finals swim from Thursday evening. So unofficially, Alexy just swam the fastest January time ever in the 100 free by an American.

And here’s one more statistic, perhaps one more relevant for Alexy: at this Knoxville meet last year, he swam a time of 49.14 in the 100 free. That’s not a perfect comparison — at last year’s meet, the 100 free was on the final day of the meet rather than the second, and Alexy only swam prelims before scratching the final — but it’s no less startling to see how far this young sprinter has come in such a short period of time. Certainly, he’s ahead of where he stood at this point last year.

Perhaps the Morristown, N.J., native will feel some of this pressure on the way to June and the all-important Olympic Trials, but he also has plenty more races in which to build momentum, including a college season when Alexy’s sprint skills will be huge for a Cal team trying to win a third consecutive national title. As the Olympic year begins, last year’s newest sprint star is flying high.

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