LumaLanes Split Analysis: Kieran Smith’s 500 Freestyle American Record

Florida sophomore Kieran Smith broke the 500 freestyle American Record at the 2020 SEC Championships.

Split analysis for the 500 SCY freestyle is sponsored by LumaLanes.

Race Context

At the 2020 SEC swimming and diving championships, Florida Gator sophomore Kieran Smith shocked many in the swimming world when he broke Zane Grothe’s American record in the 500 freestyle. Until this meet, most saw Smith as an IMer, possibly the successor to the Ryan Lochte/Michael Phelps domination of the events. But Smith chose to swim the 500 on Day 1 in Auburn, opening many eyes with his impressive swim of 4:06.32. That time not only cut over 10 seconds off his best time prior to that day, but it moved him ahead of swimmers like Grothe, Townley Haas, and Clark Smith for the all-time performances in the race.

Today we will be looking at 500 yard freestyle swum by K. Smith, Grothe, Haas, and C. Smith, and analyzing their race splits.

  • K. Smith: 22.45/24.83/24.79/25.01/25.17/25.10/25.05/24.85/24.94/24.13 – 4:06.32 (Auburn, AL, 2020)
  • Grothe: 22.65/24.93/25.17/25.32/25.08/25.24/24.92/24.76/25.12/24.06 – 4:07.25 (Columbus, OH, 2017)
  • Haas: 22.24/24.14/24.44/24.87/24.80/25.21/25.55/26.02/25.76/25.17 – 4:08.19 (Austin, TX, 2019)
  • C. Smith: 22.68/24.66/25.03/25.10/24.96/25.01/25.42/25.44/25.63/24.49


Looking at the splits for each 50, K. Smith’s consistency over his eight middle splits ultimately paid off for him. With a slowest split of 25.17 and a fastest split of 24.79, that spread of just .38 seconds is much better than Grothe’s .56, C. Smith’s .78, and Haas’ 1.88.

Haas had the fastest first half by a far margin, splitting only 24s until after the halfway point in the race. K. Smith had a steady climb from 24-high to 25-low and then back to 24-high – almost like a parabola. C. Smith was fairly consistent, with 24-high/25-lows on the front half and 25-mids on the back half. Grothe also climbed from 24-high to 25-low, but began his descent into 24-high sooner than K. Smith.

In looking at closing speed, K. Smith was quickest with a 49.07 on the final 100. That was marginally faster than Grothe’s 49.18, a second ahead of C. Smith’s 50.12, and considerably faster than Haas’ 50.93 (his early speed had caught up to him at that point).

Interestingly enough, C. Smith’s race at 2017 NCAAs was the only one to feature a close race throughout. His margin of victory of victory over fellow Texas Longhorn Haas was only .5 seconds, (and third place Felix Auboeck was .03 behind Haas). Unlike this race, the other three all featured runner-up swimmers in 4:10 times. Haas won his 2019 race over Sean Grieshop by 3.10 seconds, Grothe on his race over Mitch D’Arrigo by 3.53 seconds, and K. Smith won his recent SEC title over Texas A&M swimmer Mark Theall by a whopping 4.45 seconds.

Looking Forward

Kieran Smith’s swim was a breakthrough in his budding future as an elite freestyler, besting the likes of Olympians and National Champions alike. He is currently the fastest swimmer in the NCAA this season by four seconds (pending results from Pac-12s) and will undoubtedly enter the IUPUI Natatorium as the favorite for the win. For any other swimmer to approach him and his record, he would need the unique combination of speed and endurance that few swimmers possess to the extent of K. Smith – the speed to swim a 42-second 100 freestyle while also putting up a 15-minute mile. For swimming fans everywhere, we hope that this breakthrough swim inspires the next generation of athletes to raise the bar and push the boundaries in an event that for such a long time remained stagnant in its progression.

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Thomas A. Small
4 years ago


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