TYR Pro Swim Series Knoxville: Jack Alexy Rips Quality 100 Freestyle (Men’s Recap)

Jack Alexy -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Swim Series Knoxville: Jack Alexy Rips Quality 100 Freestyle (Men’s Recap)

Swimmers who took central roles for the United States at last year’s World Championships raced in A-finals Thursday evening in Knoxville, Tenn., with the winners ranging in age from Jack Alexy, a 20-year-old who won two individual silver medals in Fukuoka, to Nic Fink, a 30-year-old who won two individual silvers in Fukuoka.

Alexy, a veteran of just the one World Championships, blasted the best in-season 100 freestyle of his career thus far while Fink, who has raced at five different editions of the World Championships plus one Olympics, overtook Michael Andrew in an exciting 100 breaststroke final.

Men’s 100 Freestyle

Early fireworks in the 100 free final came from Alberto Mestre, who reached the halfway point in 22.03, but Mestre was merely aiming for a 50-meter split. After that, the race belonged to the man now clearly established as the No. 1 swimmer in the United States in the event. Jack Alexy, a junior at Cal, broke out in 2023 to reach the World Championships and then the individual medal stand with silver medals in both sprint freestyle events, and he’s carrying that momentum into the Olympic year.

Alexy swam a time of 48.28 in prelims, and he improved on that slightly in the final by touching in 48.24. Considering Alexy’s best time entering last year’s Nationals was 48.85, this is by far the quickest he has ever gone in-season. Alexy was not too far off the Pro Series record of 48.00 set by former Cal great Nathan Adrian in 2016.

Another Berkeley-trained swimmer placed second as Brooks Curry, now at Cal as he looks to reclaim a spot on the No. 1 international team after making the 100 free final at the 2022 Worlds, came in at 48.68. Matt King, who won medals on a pair of finals relay squads at last year’s Worlds, was third in 48.91, just ahead of Santo Condorelli (49.03) and Shaine Casas (49.05).

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

The two fastest Americans ever in the men’s 100 breast raced ahead of the field in the event. Michael Andrew, ranked fourth all-time in 58.14, has been looking stronger lately in 100-meter events after he did not even make the final at last year’s U.S. Nationals, but he had a challenge from Nic Fink, whose best time of 58.26 is No. 7 in history. Fink finished in a three-way tie for silver in the event at the World Championships last year after earning bronze in 2022. Both men broke 1:00 at last month’s U.S. Open, with Andrew clocking 59.52 and Fink 59.79.

In Knoxville, Andrew had the top time in prelims at 1:00.14, and he was out first at the halfway point in 27.79, but Fink stayed close enough this time to run down his younger rival. Fink had a back-half split of 32.32 before finishing in 1:00.36, five hundredths ahead of Andrew’s 1:00.41. Texas Ford’s Joshua Chen placed third in 1:00.67, with the University of Virginia’s Noah Nichols also under 1:01 (1:00.92).

Men’s 200 Butterfly

For the first time this meet, a swimmer from the University of Tennessee pulled off a victory, but it did not come easily for Martin Espernberger. The native of Austria was in sixth place at the halfway point and still in sixth with one length remaining, but he dug deep for a 29.89 closing split. To that point in the race, Trenton Julian had owned the lead ahead of Dare Rose and Luca Urlando, but Espernberger’s closing speed helped him pull into the wall four tenths ahead.

Espernberger touched in 1:56.58, surpassing his entry time of 1:57.20, while Julian slipped under 1:57 with a runnerup time of 1:56.97. Meanwhile, teenager Thomas Heilman was also outside of the action before closing well. Racing long course for the first time since his senior-level global debut at last year’s World Championships, where he placed an impressive fourth in the 200 fly, Heilman finished in 1:57.23, just ahead of Urlando (1:57.80) and Rose (1:58.02).

Men’s 400 Freestyle

Cal-trained Lucas Henveaux had the lead for the majority of the 400 free final, but Austria’s Felix Aubock, a veteran of an Olympic final and three World Championships finals in the event, put on a huge spurt over the final 100 meters. After flipping in 2:51.55, leaving him a quarter-second behind Henveaux, Aubock split 55.23 over the final 100 meters to out-split Henveaux by more than two seconds.

Aubock finished in 3:46.78, with Henveaux ending up well back in 3:48.70. Kieran Smith, the Olympic bronze medalist in this race in Tokyo, placed third in 3:49.63, with fellow Florida Gator and distance star Bobby Finke ending up fourth (3:52.06).

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Doris Sc hieppe
Doris Sc hieppe
3 months ago

My congratulations to my special swimmer, friend, and all around great guy. !!!!!

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