World record progression 100 metres freestyle
The first world record in the men's 100 metres freestyle in long course (50 metres) swimming was recognised by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) in 1905. In the short course (25 metres) swimming events the world's governing body recognizes world records since 3 March 1991.
Times have consistently dropped over the years due to better training techniques and new developments in the sport.
In the first four Olympics competitions were not held in pools, but rather in open water (1896– The Mediterranean Sea, 1900– The Seine River, 1904– an artificial lake, 1906– The Mediterranean Sea). The 1904 Olympics freestyle race was the only one ever measured at 100 yards, instead of the usual 100 metres. A 100-metre pool was built for the 1908 Olympics and sat in the centre of the main stadium's track and field oval. The 1912 Olympics, held in the Stockholm harbour, marked the beginning of electronic timing.
Male swimmers wore full body suits up until the 1940s, which caused more drag in the water than their modern swim-wear counterparts. Also, over the years, pool designs have lessened the drag. Some design considerations allow for the reduction of swimming resistance making the pool faster. Namely, proper pool depth, elimination of currents, increased lane width, energy absorbing racing lane lines and gutters, and the use of other innovative hydraulic, acoustic and illumination designs.
In 2008, leading up to the Olympics, Speedo introduced a 50% Polyurethane suit dubbed LZR. Pure polyurethane suits from Arena (X-Glide), Adidas (Hydrofoil) and Italian suit manufacturer, Jaked were thought to be largely responsible for the multiple World Records in 2009 including at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships (dubbed the "Plastic Games"). FINA announced a ban on non-textile suit that took effect on January 2010.
The 1924 Summer Olympics were the first to use the standard 50 metre pool with marked lanes. In the freestyle, swimmers originally dived from the pool walls, but diving blocks were eventually incorporated at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The tumble turn ("flip-turn") was developed by the 1950s.
|1||1:05.8||Zoltán Halmay||Hungary||3 Dec 1905||–||Vienna, Austria|||
|2||1:05.6||Charles Daniels||United States||20 Jul 1908||Olympic Games||London, United Kingdom|||
|3||1:02.8||(tt)||Charles Daniels||United States||15 Apr 1910||Special record attempt by the New York AC||New York City, United States|||
|4||1:02.4||Kurt Bretting||Germany||6 Apr 1912||–||Brussels, Belgium|||
|5||1:01.6||Duke Kahanamoku||United States||20 Jul 1912||German Championships||Hamburg, Germany|
|6||1:01.4||Duke Kahanamoku||United States||9 Aug 1918||International exhibition||New York City, United States|||
|7||1:00.4||Duke Kahanamoku||United States||24 Aug 1920||Olympic Games||Antwerp, Belgium|
|8||58.6||Johnny Weissmuller||United States||19 Jul 1922||–||Alameda, California, United States|
|9||57.4||Johnny Weissmuller||United States||17 Feb 1924||–||Miami, United States|
|10||56.8||Peter Fick||United States||2 Mar 1934||Yale University Swimming Carnival||New Haven, United States|||
|11||56.6||(tt)||Peter Fick||United States||5 Mar 1935||Yale University Swimming Carnival||New Haven, United States|||
|12||56.4||Peter Fick||United States||11 Feb 1936||Yale Benefit Event for the United States Olympic team||New Haven, United States|||
|13||55.9||(tt)||Alan Ford||United States||13 Apr 1944||Special record attempt||New Haven, United States|||
|14||55.8||Alex Jany||France||15 Sep 1947||–||Menton, France|
|15||55.4||(tt)||Alan Ford||United States||29 Jun 1948||New Haven Swim Club team time trial||New Haven, United States|||
|16||54.8||(tt)||Dick Cleveland||United States||1 Apr 1954||AAU Championships||New Haven, United States|||
|17||55.4||Jon Henricks||Australia||30 Nov 1956||Olympic Games||Melbourne, Australia|||
|18||55.2||John Devitt||Australia||19 Jan 1957||New South Wales State Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|19||54.6||John Devitt||Australia||28 Jan 1957||Queensland State Championships||Brisbane, Australia|||
|20||54.4||Steve Clark||United States||18 Aug 1961||Men's NAAA Championships||Los Angeles, United States|||
|21||53.6||(tt)||Manuel dos Santos||Brazil||20 Sep 1961||Special record attempt by the CR Guanabara||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|22||52.9||Alain Gottvallès||France||13 Sep 1964||–||Budapest, Hungary|
|22=||52.9||(r)||Steve Clark||United States||14 Oct 1964||Olympic Games||Tokyo, Japan|||
|23||52.6||(r)||Ken Walsh||United States||27 Jul 1967||Pan American Games||Winnipeg, Canada|||
|23=||52.6||Zac Zorn||United States||2 Sep 1968||USA Olympic Trials (elec. 52.58)||Los Angeles, United States|||
|24||52.2||Michael Wenden||Australia||19 Oct 1968||Olympic Games||Mexico City, Mexico|||
|25||51.94||(h)||Mark Spitz||United States||23 Aug 1970||AAU Championships||Los Angeles, United States|||
|26||51.47||(h)||Mark Spitz||United States||5 Aug 1972||USA Olympic Trials||Chicago, United States|||
|27||51.22||Mark Spitz||United States||3 Sep 1972||Olympic Games||Munich, West Germany|||
|28||51.12||(h)||Jim Montgomery||United States||21 Jun 1975||AAU World Championship Trials||Long Beach, United States|||
|29||51.11||Andy Coan||United States||3 Aug 1975||An Amateur Athletic Union Region Four meet||Fort Lauderdale, United States|||
|30||50.59||(sf)||Jim Montgomery||United States||23 Aug 1975||AAU Championships||Kansas City, United States|||
|31||50.39||(sf)||Jim Montgomery||United States||24 Jul 1976||Olympic Games||Montreal, Canada|||
|32||49.99||Jim Montgomery||United States||25 Jul 1976||Olympic Games||Montreal, Canada|||
|33||49.44||Jonty Skinner||South Africa||14 Aug 1976||AAU Championships||Philadelphia, United States|||
|34||49.36||(tt)||Rowdy Gaines||United States||3 Apr 1981||Longhorn Invitational||Austin, United States|
|35||49.24||(h)||Matt Biondi||United States||6 Aug 1985||USA Summer Nationals||Mission Viejo, United States|||
|36||48.95||Matt Biondi||United States||6 Aug 1985||USA Summer Nationals||Mission Viejo, United States|||
|37||48.74||Matt Biondi||United States||24 Jun 1986||USA World Championships Trials||Orlando, United States|||
|38||48.42||Matt Biondi||United States||10 Aug 1988||USA Olympic Trials||Austin, United States|
|39||48.21||Alexander Popov||Russia||18 Jun 1994||International Swimming Meeting of Monte Carlo||Monte-Carlo, Monaco|
|40||48.18||(r)||Michael Klim||Australia||16 Sep 2000||Olympic Games||Sydney, Australia|||
|41||47.84||(sf)||Pieter van den Hoogenband||Netherlands||19 Sep 2000||Olympic Games||Sydney, Australia|||
|42||47.60||(sf)||Alain Bernard||France||21 Mar 2008||European Championships||Eindhoven, Netherlands|||
|43||47.50||Alain Bernard||France||22 Mar 2008||European Championships||Eindhoven, Netherlands|||
|44||47.24||(r)||Eamon Sullivan||Australia||11 Aug 2008||Olympic Games||Beijing, China|||
|45||47.20||(sf)||Alain Bernard||France||13 Aug 2008||Olympic Games||Beijing, China|||
|46||47.05||(sf)||Eamon Sullivan||Australia||13 Aug 2008||Olympic Games||Beijing, China|
|47||46.94||Alain Bernard||France||23 Apr 2009||French National Championships||Montpellier, France|||
|48||46.91||César Cielo||Brazil||30 Jul 2009||World Championships||Rome, Italy|||
|WBT||48.20||Michael Gross||West Germany||11 Feb 1988||?||Offenbach, Germany|| |
|1||47.94||Gustavo Borges||Brazil||2 Jul 1993||Brazil Nationals||Santos, São Paulo, Brazil|||
|2||47.83||Alexander Popov||Russia||1 Jan 1994||World Cup||Hong Kong|
|3||47.82||Alexander Popov||Russia||5 Jan 1994||World Cup||Beijing, China|
|4||47.12||Alexander Popov||Russia||12 Mar 1994||World Cup||Desenzano del Garda, Italy|
|5||46.74||Alexander Popov||Russia||19 Mar 1994||World Cup||Gelsenkirchen, Germany|
|6||46.25||Ian Crocker||United States||27 Mar 2004||NCAA Men's Division 1 Championships||East Meadow, United States|||
|6=||46.25||Roland Schoeman||South Africa||22 Jan 2005||World Cup||Berlin, Germany|||
|7||45.83||Stefan Nystrand||Sweden||17 Nov 2007||World Cup||Berlin, Germany|||
|8||45.69||Alain Bernard||France||7 Dec 2008||French SC Championships||Angers, France|
|9||45.12||(sf)||Amaury Leveaux||France||12 Dec 2008||European SC Championships||Rijeka, Croatia|||
|10||44.94||Amaury Leveaux||France||13 Dec 2008||European SC Championships||Rijeka, Croatia|
|1||1:35.0||Martha Gerstung||Germany||18 Oct 1908||–||Magdeburg, Germany|
|2||1:26.6||Claire Guttenstein||Belgium||2 Oct 1910||–||Schaerbeek, Belgium|
|3||1:24.6||Daisy Curwen||Great Britain||29 Sep 1911||–||Liverpool, United Kingdom|
|4||1:20.6||Daisy Curwen||Great Britain||10 Jun 1912||–||Birkenhead, United Kingdom|
|5||1:19.8||Fanny Durack||Australia||9 Jul 1912||Olympic Games||Stockholm, Sweden|||
|6||1:18.8||Fanny Durack||Australia||21 Jul 1912||German Championships||Hamburg, Germany|
|7||1:16.2||Fanny Durack||Australia||6 Feb 1915||NSW Ladies' Amateur Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|8||1:14.4||sf||Ethelda Bleibtrey||United States||23 Aug 1920||Olympic Games||Antwerp, Belgium|||
|9||1:13.6||Ethelda Bleibtrey||United States||25 Aug 1920||Olympic Games||Antwerp, Belgium|||
|10||1:12.8||Gertrude Ederle||United States||30 Jun 1923||–||Newark, New Jersey, United States|||
|11||1:12.2||h||Mariechen Wehselau||United States||19 Jul 1924||Olympic Games||Paris, France|
|12||1:10.0||Ethel Lackie||United States||28 Jan 1926||–||Toledo, OH, United States|||
|13||1:09.8||Eleanor Garatti||United States||7 Aug 1929||National AAU women's swimming meet||Honolulu, Hawaii|||
|14||1:09.4||Albina Osipowich||United States||25 Aug 1929||–||San Francisco, United States|
|15||1:08.0||Helene Madison||United States||14 Mar 1930||National AAU Women's Indoor Swimming and Diving Championships||Miami Beach, United States|||
|16||1:06.6||Helene Madison||United States||20 Apr 1931||–||Boston, United States|
|17||1:06.0||Willy den Ouden||Netherlands||9 Jul 1933||–||Antwerp, Belgium|
|18||1:05.4||Willy den Ouden||Netherlands||24 Feb 1934||–||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|19||1:04.8||Willy den Ouden||Netherlands||15 Apr 1934||–||Rotterdam, Netherlands|
|20||1:04.6||Willy den Ouden||Netherlands||27 Feb 1936||–||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|21||1:04.5||Dawn Fraser||Australia||21 Feb 1956||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|22||1:04.2||Cocky Gastelaars||Netherlands||3 Mar 1956||–||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|23||1:04.0||Cocky Gastelaars||Netherlands||14 Apr 1956||–||Schiedam, Netherlands|
|24||1:03.3||Dawn Fraser||Australia||25 Aug 1956||Australian Olympic Squad Swimming Carnival||Townsville, Australia|||
|25||1:03.2||Lorraine Crapp||Australia||20 Oct 1956||Australian Olympic Squad Swimming Carnival||Sydney, Australia|||
|26||1:02.4||Lorraine Crapp||Australia||25 Oct 1956||Australian Olympic Trials||Melbourne, Australia|||
|27||1:02.0||Dawn Fraser||Australia||1 Dec 1956||Olympic Games||Melbourne, Australia|||
|28||1:01.5||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||18 Feb 1958||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia|||
|29||1:01.4||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||21 Jul 1958||British Empire & Commonwealth Games||Cardiff, United Kingdom|||
|30||1:01.2||Dawn Fraser||Australia||10 Aug 1958||–||Schiedam, Netherlands|
|31||1:00.2||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||23 Feb 1960||Australian Championships & Olympic Trials||Sydney, Australia|||
|32||1:00.0||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||23 Oct 1962||Australian British Empire & Commonwealth Games Trials||Melbourne, Australia|||
|33||59.9||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||27 Oct 1962||Australian British Empire & Commonwealth Games Trials||Melbourne, Australia|||
|34||59.5||yd||Dawn Fraser||Australia||24 Nov 1962||British Empire & Commonwealth Games||Perth, Australia|||
|35||58.9||Dawn Fraser||Australia||29 Feb 1964||Australian Championships & Olympic Trials||Sydney, Australia|||
|35=||58.9||Shane Gould||Australia||30 Apr 1971||Coca Cola International||London, United Kingdom|||
|36||58.5||Shane Gould||Australia||8 Jan 1972||New South Wales State Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|37||58.25||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||13 Jul 1973||GDR Nationals & World Championship Trials||East Berlin, East Germany|
|38||58.12||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||18 Aug 1973||–||Utrecht, Netherlands|
|39||57.61||r||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||8 Sep 1973||World Championships||Belgrade, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|
|40||57.54||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||9 Sep 1973||World Championships||Belgrade, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia|
|41||57.51||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||4 Jul 1974||GDR Nationals & European Championship Trials||Rostock, East Germany|
|42||56.96||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||19 Aug 1974||European Championships||Vienna, Austria|
|43||56.38||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||14 Mar 1975||GDRvURS Duel||Dresden, East Germany|
|44||56.22||r||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||26 Jul 1975||World Championships||Cali, Colombia|
|45||55.73||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||1 Jun 1976||GDR Olympic Trials||East Berlin, East Germany|
|46||55.65||Kornelia Ender||East Germany||19 Jul 1976||Olympic Games||Montréal, Canada|
|47||55.41||Barbara Krause||East Germany||5 Jul 1978||GDR Nationals & World Championship Trials||East Berlin, East Germany|
|48||54.98||h||Barbara Krause||East Germany||20 Jul 1980||Olympic Games||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|49||54.79||Barbara Krause||East Germany||21 Jul 1980||Olympic Games||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|50||54.73||r||Kristin Otto||East Germany||19 Aug 1986||World Championships||Madrid, Spain|
|51||54.48||h||Jenny Thompson||United States||1 Mar 1992||USA Olympic Trials||Indianapolis, United States|||
|52||54.01||Jingyi Le||China||5 Sep 1994||World Championships||Rome, Italy|||
|53||53.80||Inge de Bruijn||Netherlands||28 May 2000||Super Speedo Grand Prix||Sheffield, United Kingdom|||
|54||53.77||sf||Inge de Bruijn||Netherlands||20 Sep 2000||Olympic Games||Sydney, Australia|||
|55||53.66||sf||Libby Lenton||Australia||31 Mar 2004||Australian Championships & Olympic Trials||Sydney, Australia|||
|56||53.52||sf||Jodie Henry||Australia||18 Aug 2004||Olympic Games||Athens, Greece|||
|57||53.42||sf||Libby Lenton||Australia||31 Jan 2006||Australian Championships & Commonwealth Games Trials||Melbourne, Australia|||
|58||53.30||Britta Steffen||Germany||2 Aug 2006||European Championships||Budapest, Hungary|||
|59||52.88||Libby Trickett||Australia||27 Mar 2008||Australian Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|60||52.85||Britta Steffen||Germany||25 Jun 2009||German Championships||Berlin, Germany|||
|61||52.56||Britta Steffen||Germany||27 Jun 2009||German Championships||Berlin, Germany|||
|62||52.22||r||Britta Steffen||Germany||26 Jul 2009||World Championships||Rome, Italy|||
|63||52.07||Britta Steffen||Germany||31 Jul 2009||World Championships||Rome, Italy|||
|64||52.06||Cate Campbell||Australia||2 July 2016||Australia Grand Prix||Brisbane, Australia|||
|65||51.71||r||Sarah Sjöström||Sweden||23 July 2017||World Championships||Budapest, Hungary|||
Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final; † – en route to final mark; tt – time trial
|1||53.46||Franziska van Almsick||Germany||6 January 1993||World Cup||Shanghai, China|||
|2||53.33||Franziska van Almsick||Germany||10 January 1993||World Cup||Beijing, China|||
|3||53.01||Jingyi Le||China||2 December 1993||World Championships||Palma de Mallorca, Spain|
|4||52.80||Therese Alshammar||Sweden||10 December 1999||European Championships||Lisbon, Portugal|||
|5||52.17||Therese Alshammar||Sweden||17 March 2000||World Championships||Athens, Greece|||
|6||51.91||sf||Libby Lenton||Australia||8 August 2005||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia|||
|7||51.70||Libby Lenton||Australia||9 August 2005||Australian Championships||Melbourne, Australia|||
|8||51.01||Libby Trickett||Australia||10 August 2009||Australian Championships||Hobart, Australia|||
|9||50.91||†||Cate Campbell||Australia||28 November 2015||Australian SC Championships||Sydney, Australia|||
|10||50.77||Sarah Sjöström||Sweden||3 August 2017||World Cup||Moscow, Russia|||
|11||50.58||Sarah Sjöström||Sweden||11 August 2017||World Cup||Eindhoven, Netherlands|||
|11||50.25||Cate Campbell||Australia||26 October 2017||Australian Championships||Adelaide, Australia|||
Records not set in finals: h – heat; sf – semifinal; r – relay 1st leg; rh – relay heat 1st leg; b – B final; † – en route to final mark; tt – time trial
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- (scm-m) 47.94 segundos en los 100 metros libres (trans: 47.94 in the 100m free), published by the French Press Agency on 1993-07-04; retrieved from the website of El Pais <http://elpais.com> on 2012-03-24. Note: This source mentions that Borges's 47.94 bettered a time of 48.20 swum by Michael Gross.
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