Jordan Crooks Ties Bjorn Seeliger as Second-Fastest 50 Freestyler in History

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Jordan Crooks -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Jordan Crooks Ties Bjorn Seeliger as Second-Fastest 50 Freestyler in History

Tennessee sophomore Jordan Crooks made a big jump in the men’s splash-and-dash Thursday evening at the invitational held in his home pool in Knoxville. Leading off the Volunteers’ 200 freestyle relay, Crooks touched in 18.27 to knock a quarter-second off his previous best time of 18.53 from last year’s SEC Championships. Crooks moved from sixth all-time in the event all the way up to second and into a tie with Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger. Only superstar Caeleb Dressel, who swam as fast as 17.63 at the 2018 NCAA Championships, has ever surpassed that mark.

At last year’s NCAA Championships, Crooks tied for third in an extremely tight race in which the top five finishers were all within a tenth. Brooks Curry was the winner of that event in 18.56, followed by Seeliger (18.59) and then Crooks tied with Virginia’s Matt Brownstead at 18.60, with Nyls Korstanje fifth (18.66).

But now, it’s Crooks clearly setting the pace in the event. Many of his top rivals are in action this weekend, but none swam within a half-second off this 18.27. At the Georgia Invitational, Florida’s Josh Liendo went 18.84, and a few hundred miles east in Greensboro, N.C., NC State’s David Curtiss edged out Arizona State’s Jack Dolan 18.95 to 18.99. One night earlier, Curry won the race at the Art Adamson Invitational in 18.94. Seeliger has yet to swim his midseason meet, but Crooks is the clear pace-setter nationally.

Later on Thursday evening, Crooks won the individual 50 free in 18.60, while another Tennessee swimmer looks to be jumping into the national conversation as freshman Gui Caribe placed second in 18.91, moving him up to third nationally behind Crooks and Liendo. The Tennessee duo finished ahead of Virginia sprinters Matt King (19.15) and Brownstead (19.20).

Tennessee also won a barn-burner in the 200 free relay over the Cavaliers as Crooks’ 18.27 got Tennessee out to a lead of almost a second before Caribe (18.65), Scott Scanlon (19.11) and Aleksey Tarasenko (19.29) held on to win in 1:15.32, with Virginia ending up a few tenths back in 1:15.67. Brownstead (19.24), King (18.56), Jack Aikins (19.02) and August Lamb (18.85) comprised the UVA team.

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