Shields sensational

Tom Shields went into the record books last week at the U.S. Open Swimming Championships.

On Wednesday in the Netherlands, he did it again.

The Edison High graduate (2009) set a new U.S. Open meet record with a personal-best time of 51.65 seconds to win the men's 100-meter butterfly Aug. 1 at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine.

During the first day of competition Wednesday at the FINA Swimming World Cup at Eindhover, Netherlands, Shields set a new American record in the short-course 200-meter butterfly in 1 minute 51.38 seconds. He placed third in the event won by Chad Le Clos of South Africa, who turned in a world-record time of 1:49.04.

Shields broke the previous American record of 1:51.90 set in 2011 by Davis Tarwater.

At the U.S. Open, Shields, who rallied down the stretch to win the event, turned in the year's top time for an American in the event and the fourth-best time in the world this year.

The 22-year-old currently is in the Netherlands for the first stop on the FINA Swimming World Cup circuit. He will compete in seven countries — the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, China and Tokyo, through mid-November.

"It felt really good to finally win an event long course," Shields said in an email statement on his record-setting performance at the U.S. Open meet. "I have been going through a tough time mentally the last couple months with the transition, not necessarily the transition to long course from short course, but the transition from college to pro.

"Winning the event at the U.S. Open was really fun, especially because my family was there cheering for me and supporting me."

The FINA World Cup at the Netherlands continues through Thursday. The next cup competition is Saturday and Sunday at Berlin.

During his career at Edison, Shields set records for the boys' swimming program in the 200-yard freestyle (1:33.83, which also set the national high school record), 50 free (20.56), 100 fly (47.55), 100 free (44.54), 500 free (4:26.52), and as part of the 200 free relay (1.26.41) and 400 free relay (3:05.27) teams.

"It is exciting to see Tom continue to swim so well upon leaving Edison," Edison swim and water polo Coach Diggy Riley said. "His contributions to our program went beyond just being a world class swimmer.

"In a world where club swimmers who swim for high school as well, especially one as fast as Tom, you rarely see these athletes buy into the whole 'team' concept. It is tough to find the connection with their teammates. But not Tom. He was a leader from the beginning of his freshman year, where his passion and enthusiasm for swimming fast and training hard was contagious. He would even show up to at least one workout a week and get in with the guys. It was really awesome to see."

Shields went on to attend and swim at Cal Berkeley where he said in an email that he is about to enter into his final year of studies (religious studies) and will graduate in May 2014. He has used up his NCAA eligibility but before doing so, the All-American swimmer left the Cal men's program as the record holder in the 200 free, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly (also NCAA, American. Pac-10/12 Conference record times), and as part of Cal's 400 free (Pac-10/12 Conference record) and 800 free relay teams.

He won five individual NCAA titles and six NCAA relay titles while competing (2010-13) for the Bears, who won the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Division 1 Championships in 2011 and 2012.

Shields also set the American record time in the men's short-course 50-meter butterfly.

In 2011, he won the silver medal in the 100-meter butterfly at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. A year later, he finished in fourth place in the 100-meter butterfly at the USA Olympic Team Trials and went on to compete for Team USA at the 2012 Short Course World Championships in Turkey. At the World Championships, he won silver (100-meter butterfly), bronze (50-meter butterfly) and gold (400-meter medley relay) medals.

Shields said he is still training at Cal as a "postgrad" with Cal coaches Dave Durden and Yuri Sugiyama.

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