The men’s 50m free final tonight in Hangzhou was an intense battle from start to finish, with British stud Ben Proud drawing a disqualification for a false start. That bumped Lithuanian star Simonas Bilis up to the 4th spot with his impressive time of 20.99, a new lifetime best and National Record. With his effort, Bilis became the first Lithuanian man ever under the 21-second threshold in this short course meters format of the 50 freestyle.
Bilis had already notched new national standards in both his prelims and semi-finals swims where the former NC State standout produced times of 21.10 and 21.03, respectively. Both of those efforts exceeded the previous Lithuanian NR and his own lifetime best of 21.15 he cranked out in semi-finals at the 2016 edition of these Short Course World Championships. Two years ago in Windsor, the 25-year-old ultimately walked away with the bronze medal in a final time of 21.23.
Flash forward to tonight, and the Lithuanian’s 20.99 4th place finish crushed his 2016 time by .24 and sets the stage for this young man’s push toward Tokyo.