This piece is brought to you by A3 Performance BA Blogging – Bad Ass Blogging by Bad Ass Brand Ambassadors. This piece was written by athlete and ambassador Matt Hutchins, a 2016 Rio Olympian and University of Wisconsin Badger.

Being a swimmer, I naturally find myself in many debates about who the best swimmer of all time is. Obviously, the first name that comes to everyone’s mind is Michael Phelps and I am certainly not here to argue that. Phelps may be the greatest of all time, but who is the most versatile? If you were able to put all of the best swimmers in history on a college team and swim them in a dual meet, which athletes would be the most valuable?

My buddy Sean (also a swimmer) and I decided to kick the hypothetical to the curb and put together a fantasy team of men’s swimming if you will. We embarked on a draft for the All-Time Men’s Long Course Dual Meet Team, then we compared our results.

The rules were fairly simple:

  • Our dual meet would be scored like your average college dual with points scoring through the top 5 (1st-9, 2nd-4, 3rd-3, 4th-2, 5th-1).
  • Relays would swim as 400m versions of the medley and free relays, scored through the top 3 (1st-11, 2nd-5-3rd-3).
  • The schedule would follow the base one-day dual set up.
  • Each swimmer is allowed a maximum of four entries, and a maximum of three individual events (so there will be no Phelps swimming everything in the line-up).
  • We included all, all-time, best times, except 2009, because… you know… the suits.
  • The draft is snaked, so the first pick gets one pick, and then we each pick two at a time.
  • There will be 20 men on each team.
  • Neither of us was allowed to see each other’s line-ups until the draft was fully complete.
  • The 1st pick would be decided by a coin flip.

With that in mind, we hit the computer finding as many different all-time best time databases to start planning our draft picks.

After the very official coin flip, Sean was awarded the top pick and the ensuing results are how the draft turned out. The results are broken into rounds (as it was a snake draft) so this is the order each swimmer was picked.


Round 1:

Sean P1: Michael Phelps, an easy pick. Phelps is the current or past World Record holder in 200IM, 400IM, 200 free, 100 fly, and 200 fly, AND if he wanted to could have been a top-level backstroker. So yeah…Phelps adds plenty of versatility.

Matt P1: Ryan Lochte, The current World Record Holder in the 200IM, Olympic champion in 200 back and 400IM, and World Champ in the 200 freestyle. After Phelps, it’s tough to find a swimmer as versatile as Lochte.

Matt P2: Caleb Dressel, Dressel shot up the draft board after an amazing Summer in which he dropped the 2nd fastest 100 fly (49:86) of all time and the 3rd fastest 100 freestyle (47.17) post-suit era. To top it all off, he hit a very fast 21.15 50m free on his way to a record seven Gold Medals at World Champs. Plus, being a top sprinter adds tons more value because Dressel will be a powerhouse relay swimmer.


Round 2:

Sean P2: Following along the line of sprinter power, Sean selected Cam McEvoy from Australia. McEvoy boasts the world’s fastest textile 100m freestyle (47.04) from the 2016 Olympic trials. McEvoy also boasts a 21.44 50m free and a 1:45 200m freestyle.

Sean P3: Adam Peaty The decision to pick a breaststroker came as we were both looking to add variety to our team. In Peaty, Sean gets the 50 and 100m breaststroke World Record holder out of Great Britain. The man is a second faster than the next fastest 100 breaststroker in the world, so he holds a bit of an advantage there.

Matt P3: I headed for a different stroke specialist here, selecting Ryan Murphy as my team’s top backstroker. The Olympic Champ and World Record Holder in the 100 backstroke and another gold in the 200. Murphy solidified some wins and was a great relay lead-off.

Matt P4: Yannick Agnel from France. Agnel still boats the fastest textile 200m freestyle from the 2012 Olympics at 1:43:14. Agnel also has the versatility to go up or down distances with a 3:43 400 free and a 47.84 100 free.


Round 3:

Sean P4: As an Australian Sean claimed this pick as his “national service” selecting Ian Thorpe, arguably the greatest freestyler ever. At 3:40.08 in the 400 free in 2001 and at a 1:44 200 freestyle Thorpe would still be competing for Olympic and World Champs gold medals if he were still racing today.

Sean P5: Joe Schooling, of Singapore. Until Dressel blew up this summer, Schooling’s gold medal time from Rio in the 100m fly was the fastest textile swim in history (50.39). Schooling can also throw down in the 100 and 200 freestyles and the 200 fly.

Matt P5: With my 5th pick I took a swimmer I thought would rival Thorpe throughout our meet, Sun Yang, from China. With best times of 3:40.14 and 1:44 in the 400 and 200 freestyle, both of these events would be very close come race day. Sun is also a sure win for the 1500 given his world record best time.

Matt P6: To add some depth to my butterfly and relay legs I took Ian Croker. Croker hosts a best time only .01 slower than Schooling in the 100m fly, the 3rd fastest textile in history, which he swam in 2005.


Round 4:

Sean P6: Sean added to his breaststroke depth here with Ippei Watanabe. Selecting breaststrokers was difficult for this because unlike other strokes not many men double in both the 100 and 200m distance. While Watanabe is the World Record holder in the 200 (2:06.67) he has not gone under 59 in the 100.

Sean P7: The 7th pick went to China’s Xu Jiayu. Jiayu is only .01 behind Murphy in his career-best 100m back, and he flipped the script on the Americans this Summer, winning the 100 back in Budapest.

Matt P7: My first breaststroke pick went to Cameron van der Burgh from South Africa. Van der Burgh holds history’s 2nd fastest 100m breast (58.46) from 2012.

Matt P8: This pick went to Laszlo Cseh from Hungary. The extremely versatile IM and butterfly swimmer provides more options to spread my team around, as he will be competitive in the 200 fly and IM.


Round 5:

Sean P8: In order to cover distance needs on his team, this pick went to Grant Hackett. The distance stud out of Australia held world records in the 1500 and 800 freestyles during his career.

Sean P9: Continuing the Australia nostalgia, Sean used this pick for Eamon Sullivan. At one point in his career, Sullivan held the world record in both the 50 and 100m freestyle. He was mainly picked to boost relay strength

Matt P9: I picked James Magnussen to boost my team’s depth in the100 freestyle and my 400 free relay. Magnussen boasts a 47.1 100m freestyle best time.

Matt P10: Alain Bernard (France). This rounded out my top-end 100m freestylers for my relays. Bernard split a 46.6 on the anchor leg of the 2008 Olympic relay


Round 6:

Sean P10: Florent Manadou. The big Frenchman was on top of the world in 2008 with his times in the 50 and 100m freestyles. These times still hold up well today.

Sean P11: Chad le Clos. The man that dethroned Phelps in 2012 comes into play here. He is the 2012 Olympic and reigning world champ in the 200 fly. He adds to the start list of what would be an interesting 200 fly race. Le Clos is also a top 200 freestyler.

Matt P11: Akihiro Yamaguchi. In the long list of dominant Japanese 200 breaststroke swimmers, Yamaguchi comes in 2nd on both Japanese and all-time lists.

Matt P12: Milrad Cávic, the man best known for coming in 2nd to Michael Phelps. He still holds a competitive 100 fly and a good enough 100 free for a relay spot.


Round 7:

Sean P12: Mitch Larkin, one of the best backstroke swimmers in the world right now. Larkin at his best can get up to compete with Murphy and Jiayu in the backstroke races.

Sean P13: Kosuke Kitajima. Kitajima is another Japanese 200m breaststroke swimmer. He earns this spot, adding depth in both the 100 and 200 distances, after a long successful international career.

Matt P13: Matt Grevers is the savvy veteran who keeps on going and who every team needs. Grevers was right on the bubble of qualifying for Rio. If trials had gone a tenth of a second in his favour, he may have another Olympic medal to his name. His lifetime bests get him this spot over current backstroker swimmers.

Matt P14: Kevin Cordes is one of the better breaststroke swimmers on the list; Cordes can swim both the 100 and 200 distances. I felt like he was a steal this late in the draft and helps me out for relays and individual swims.


Round 8:

Sean P14: Park Taewan. The South Korean freestyler has best times in the 200 through to the 1500 that make him a very valuable point scorer in a dual meet. His best, though, is the 400 free (3:41.53-2011)

Sean P15: Kosuke Hagino, the Olympic champ in the 400IM, can swim almost any event he wants, making him the excellent IMer he is. At this point in the draft, he follows the trend of versatile, all-round swimmers.

Matt P15: Takeshi Matsuda. At this point, I noticed some big gaps in my line up. I picked Matsuda solely to swim the 200 butterfly

Matt P16: Nathan Adrian. The man gets his hand on the wall first. Adrian adds to my already deep 100m freestyle team.


Round 9:

Sean P16: Gregorio Paltrineiri. The Italian distance star has owned the 1500m in recent years and is a good late pick for the distance at this meet with a 14:34 best time in the 1500m.

Sean P17: Kyle Chalmers. Another Australian for Sean adds another interesting member to what looks to be a very stacked 400m free relay event.

Matt P17: Mack Horton. Another man to add to distance events. Mack even has a 400m Olympic gold to his name.

Matt P18: Jason Lezak. 2008 Olympics anchor of the 400 free relay. That’s it.


Round 10:

Sean P18: Daiya Seto. Another versatile Japanese IM/Freestyle/Backstroke swimmer. Seto can almost swim anything needed of him

Sean P19: Alexander Dale Oen. Sadly Dale Oen is not around to keep moving up the list, but his times still hold up to be a competitive 100 breaststroker in this meet.

Matt P19: Tyler Clary. A Backstroke and IM specialist, the time he swam to win the 200 back at the 2012 Olympics is still a top 5, all-time swim.

Matt P20: Josh Prenot. A steal this late comes in very highly ranked in the 200 breaststroke with his 2:07.17 that he swam at the 2016 Olympic trials.

Sean P20: Vladimir Morozov. An absolute sprinting stud from his days at USC, Vlad provides another option for relays.


Below I have gone through the schedule and added each swimmer’s best times for reference. For relays, I have given rough relay splits based on the swimmer’s best times. I was hesitant to score out the meet, as the results for the meet are very much up for debate, especially when you look at how close some of these races would likely be. However, I scored out the meet based on best times to demonstrate how close and how exciting this meet would be!

All events are laid out how they would be swum. Their respective lane assignment is on the left, and their point totals are on the right indicating how the race is projected to finish.


400m Medley Relay

3. Larkin, Dale Oen, Le Clos, Sullivan (52.11, 58.11, 49.96, 46.45) – 3pts

4. Murphy, Van De Burgh, Crocker, Magnussen (51.85, 57.86, 49.80, 46.5) – 5pts

*5. Jiayu, Peaty, Schooling, McEvoy (51.86, 56.53, 49.79, 46.44) –  11pts

6. Grevers, Cordes, Cavic, Adrian (52.08, 58.34, 49.99,46.9)


1500m Free

3. Hackett - 14:34.56 – 3pts               

*4.Yang  - 14:31.02 – 9pts

5. Paltrineiri -14:34.04 – 4pts

6. Horton – 14:39.54 – 2pts


200m Freestyle

2. Yang – 1:44.47 – 1pt

3. Thorpe – 1:44.06 – 3pts

4. Agnel – 1:43.14 – 4pts

*5. Phelps  - 1:42.96 – 9pts

6. Lochte – 1:44.44 – 2pts

7. Tae Wan – 1:44.80


100m Backstroke

2. Cseh – 53.40

3. Larkin – 52.11– 2pts

*4. Murphy – 51.85 – 9pts

5. Hagino – 52.78 –1pt

6. Grevers - 52.08 – 3pts

7. Jiayu 51.86 – 4pts


100m Breaststroke

2. Yamaguchi – 59.56

3. Dale Oen – 58.71 – 3pts

4. Van de Burgh – 58.46 – 4pts

*5. Peaty - 57.13 –  9pts

6. Cordes – 58.74 – 2pts

7. Kitajima – 58.90 – 1pt


200m Butterfly

2. Clary – 1:54.93

3. Le Clos- 1:52.96 – 3pts

4. Cseh – 1:52.70 – 4pts

*5. Phelps – 1:52.03 – 9pts

6. Matsuda – 1:52.97 – 2pts

7. Daiya Seto – 1:54.03 – 1pt


50m Freestyle

1. Vlad – 21.44 –  2pts

2. Magnussen – 21.52

3. Manadou – 21.49

*4. Dressel – 21.15 – 9pts

5. Sullivan – 21.41 – 3pts

6. Bernard – 21.49 – 1pt

7. Cielo – 21.30 – 4pts


100m Freestyle

2. Bernard 47.20 – 2pts

3. Sullivan – 47.24 – 1pt

4. Magnussen – 47.10 – 4pts

*5. McEvoy- 47.07 –  9pts

6. Dressel – 47.17 – 3pts

7. Chalmers 47.50


200m Backstroke

2. Murphy – 1:53.62 – 2pts

3. Jiayu – 1:54.03 – 1pt

*4. Lochte – 1:52.96 – 9pts

5. Larkin – 1:53.07 – 4pts

6. Clary – 1:53.41 – 3pts

7. Hagino 1:45.23


200m Breaststroke

2. Cordes – 2:07.41 – 2pts

3. Kitajima – 2:08.00 – 1pt

4. Yamaguchi – 2:07.01 – 4pts

*5. Watanbe - 2:06.67 – 9pts

6. Prenot – 2:07.17 – 3pts

7. Dale Oen – 2:09.68


400m Freestyle

2. Agnel – 3:43.85

3. Hackett – 3:42.51 – 1pt

4. Yang – 3:40.14 – 4pts

*5. Thorpe - 3:40.08 – 9pts

6. Mack – 3:41.55 – 2pts

7. Tae Wan – 3:41.53 – 3pts


100m Butterfly

2. Cseh – 50.40 – 3pts

3. Le Clos – 50.56 – 2pts

*4. Dressel – 49.86 – 9pts

5. Schooling – 50.39 – 4pts

6. Cavic – 50.59 – 1pt

7. Manadou -


200m IM

2. Clary – 1:57.61

3. Hagino – 1:55.07 – 3pts

*4. Lochte – 1:54.00 – 9pts

5. Phelps – 1:54.16 – 4pts

6. Cseh – 1:56.22 – 2pts

7. Seto – 1:56.82 – 1pt


400m Freestyle Relay

3. Cielo, Morozov, Le Clos, Thorpe (47.67,47.3,47.90,47.90) – 3pts

*4. Dressel, Magnussen, Bernard, Lezak (47.17,46.9,46.60,46.06) – 11pts

5. McEvoy, Sullivan, Chalmers, Phelps (47.06,47.24,47.2, 47.2) – 5pts

6. Lochte, Cavic, Yannick, Adrian (48.16,48.15,47.84,47.0)


Final Score:                            Sean:                           Matt:

                                                133                              130


As you would expect from teams made up of the all-time greatest swimmers, the meet turned out very close. Even though the scores resulted in Sean winning by 3 points, I would very easily argue that any of these races could have turned out differently in an actual race.

What do you think and whom you would back in this competition?


This piece is brought to you by A3 Performance BA Blogging – Bad Ass Blogging by Bad Ass Brand Ambassadors. This piece was written by athlete and ambassador Matt Hutchins, a 2016 Rio Olympian and University of Wisconsin Badger.

October 19, 2017 — A3 Performance

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