LumaLanes Split Time Analysis: 50 SCM Freestyle Skins Races


Split Time for the 50 Short Course Meters Freestyle Skins races is sponsored by LumaLanes.

Today we look at the  International Swimming League’s (ISL) Skins races, specifically highlighting Caeleb Dressel and some of his male competitors he will most likely be facing off against in Las Vegas.

First off let’s explain the concept of a “Skins” race. Eight contestants swim a 50 meter freestyle race. From this field of eight, four advance to the semifinals, in which each swimmer will earn double the amount of points usually awarded for each position. From this field of four, two advance to the final round, where the top two finishers receive triple points- a major swing for those teams lucky enough to get swimmers to this round. There is one caveat though: time. From the moment the swimmers finish each heat, a 3-minute countdown is started. Once those three minutes are up, it is back on the blocks for the next round. So, not only is speed important when racing in the Skins, but strategy and endurance as well.

While we cannot know the exact lineups for sure, the ISL teams have been fairly consistent with their Skins entries this season. Based on this fact, the entries for the championship meet may look something like this:

Cali Condors – Dressel, Bowe Becker

LA Current – Nathan Adrian, Ryan Held

London Roar – Kyle Chalmers, Cameron McEvoy

Energy Standard – Florent Manaudou, Ben Proud

Each of these eight men have participated in the Skins races at each meet they have attended, so it is a safe bet that they will be suiting up for the final showdown in Las Vegas.

  • 21.05; 21.31; 21.33 Dressel – Naples Competition
  • 21.34; 21.39; 21.25 Dressel – College Park Competition
  • 21.08; 21.63; 21.76 Chalmers – Budapest Competition
  • 21.02; 21.58; 23.33 Adrian – Lewisville Competition
  • 21.24; 22.00; 22.97 Manaudou – Indy Competition
  • 21.25; 21.78; 23.13 Manaudou – Naples Competition
  • 21.35; 21.94; 22.25 Manaudou – London Competition
  • 21.53; 22.40; 24.38 Proud – Indy Competition
  • 21.48; 22.81 Held – College Park Competition
  • 21.51; 22.21 Proud – Naples Competition
  • 20.97; 21.97 Adrian – Budapest Competition
  • 21.17; 21.66 McEvoy – Lewisville Competition
  • 21.40 McEvoy – Budapest Competition
  • 21.36 Chalmers – Lewisville Competition
  • 21.48 Proud – London Competition
  • 21.41 Held – Lewisville Competition
  • 21.22 Held – Budapest Competition
  • 21.79 Becker – College Park Competition
  • 21.62 Becker – Indy Competition
  • 21.63 Becker – Naples Competition

Skins First Round

All of the top competitors were fairly consistent with their first round swims. The slowest swimmer who was able to advance to the second round belonged to Ben Proud at Indy (21.53), but many of the others remained in the 21.2-21.4 range. One point of interest is that the group B competitions were generally more competitive than the group A. For example, Ryan Held from the LA Current did not advance past the first round in Budapest despite swimming a 21.22. By contrast, only Dressel’s first round swim in Naples eclipsed that mark for group A, when the Cali Condor charged home in 21.05 (his fastest Skins 50 this season). Nathan Adrian, with his two swims from Budapest and Lewisville, comes in with the fastest round one times (20.97 and 21.02, respectively).

Skins Second Round

The key to the second round of the Skins, it seems is to try to recover from the first swim while simultaneously ensuring qualification into the final round. No swimmer does this act better than Dressel, who in his two competitions had drop-offs of .26 seconds (Naples) and .05 seconds (College Park). These are made even more remarkable by the fact that the next best drop-off was McEvoy in Lewisville, with a differential of .49 seconds- and he didn’t make the final in that race! Dressel separates himself from the field in the second round, with both of his swims in the 21.3 range, whereas his competitors are often north of 21.5-21.6.

Skins Third Round – Final

Far and away, Caeleb Dressel is the superior swimmer in the final round. Of the likely contenders for the Las Vegas championship, Dressel is one of only two swimmers (the other being Kyle Chalmers of Australia/London Roar) to swim faster than 22.25. How fast was Dressel in the final rounds of his two Skins races? 21.33 and 21.25 in Naples and College Park, respectively. Aside from Kyle Chalmers in Budapest, the finalists in the Skins races have completely fallen off from their first round swims- Manaudou’s victory in Indy featured an increase of 1.73 seconds from round one to round three. To put it into context with Dressel, his two victories contain an average increase of .21 seconds from the fastest 50 to the slowest. WOW!


It would be a major surprise to many in the swimming world if Caeleb Dressel were not to emerge victorious from the Las Vegas Skins race. After all, he has been dominant through this inaugural season and the championships take place on American soil. However, we as viewers have no real knowledge of the training situations and meet preparations for each of the competing swimmers Has Dressel been resting for each meet? Is Manaudou bound for a breakthrough in the final outing of the ISL? Was Nathan Adrian maxing on the bench two days before?

The races can be swum an infinite number of times on paper, but the only way to know who will be the true Skins champion is to wait for these eight men to race in Las Vegas. After two days of the four best ISL teams battling for supremacy, it is bound to be a thrilling conclusion to what should be an exciting championship meet.

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