2022 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Things will continue to heat up on the penultimate night of finals from the 2022 Men’s NCAA Division I Championships in Atlanta, with some salivating showdowns on the docket and a tight team race that has seen the momentum swing into Cal’s favor over the last 24 hours.
Here’s a quick look at each of the six swimming events tonight:
400 IM: How Many Will Dip Under All-Time Record?
Arizona State freshman Leon Marchand was already the favorite in the 400 IM coming into the meet, and that sentiment only grew on Thursday as the Frenchman broke Caeleb Dressel‘s NCAA and U.S. Open Records with a blistering 1:37.69 in the 200 IM.
However, Texas’ Carson Foster was on fire this morning in the 400 IM prelims, clocking 3:33.79 to rattle the all-time record of 3:33.42 set by Chase Kalisz in 2017.
Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez (3:34.88) was also incredibly fast in qualifying second, while defending champion Bobby Finke sits fourth in 3:37.84.
Marchand qualified fifth in 3:37.97, and after his 200 IM swim, he’ll have something special in store for tonight. Kalisz’s record looks as good as gone, the question is then if Foster or Gonzalez can challenge him.
Finke, whose best time is 3:36.90, will need a massive drop to challenge for a top-three finish this year.
100 Fly: Minakov’s The Man
Last night two of the three individual winners were freshmen (Marchand and UGA’s Matt Sates), and Stanford’s Andrei Minakov looks well on his way to becoming the third first-year to win a national title tonight in the 100 butterfly.
Minakov, the 2019 World Championship 100 fly silver medalist, came into the competition as the only swimmer sub-44 this season, having clocked 43.90 at Pac-12s, and lowered his PB down to 43.77 in the prelims.
Sophomores Youssef Ramadan (44.21) and Luca Urlando (44.24) sit second and third, and Ramadan could take a run at dipping sub-44 as well after going 44.08 at ACCs.
NC State’s Nyls Korstanje, seeded fifth at 44.43, will be one to watch as he’s been on fire so far in Atlanta. Korstanje notably recorded one of the fastest splits of all-time on last night’s 200 free relay (18.04) and was among the top fly legs in the 200 medley relay (19.55).
NAG record watch will be in effect as well after Wolfpack freshman Aiden Hayes broke the 17-18 mark this morning in a time of 44.78 to qualify eighth for the ‘A’ final.
200 Free: Sates & The Seniors
Last year we saw Florida’s Kieran Smith fall as a heavy favorite in the 500 free on Thursday before triumphing the following night in the 200 free. Will history repeat itself?
Smith was only fourth in the 500 last night, while Georgia freshman Matt Sates roared to victory with one of the fastest swims ever in 4:06.61.
In tonight’s 200 free, we’ve got Texas senior Drew Kibler leading the field out of the heats in 1:30.91, followed by Sates (1:31.11), ASU senior Grant House (1:31.63), and then Smith (also a senior) is lurking back in sixth at 1:31.90.
Seven of the eight ‘A’ finalists swam the lead-off leg for their respective teams on Wednesday night’s 800 free relay, with the only one missing being LSU’s Brooks Curry (the Tigers didn’t race the event).
Here’s a look at how the seven of them stacked up:
Drew Kibler, 1:30.54
Kieran Smith, 1:30.66
Matt Sates, 1:30.78
Grant House, 1:31.01
Trenton Julian, 1:31.57
Luke Miller, 1:31.62
Murilo Sartori, 1:32.80
Judging by that, Kibler, Smith and Sates should have a very tight race tonight in the 1:30-low-to-mid range, with House likely in that mix as well.
Curry is coming off a win in the 50 free on Thursday, so he’s a good candidate to provide some outside smoke from Lane 8, though he might fall off on the back-half. The junior is the only swimmer in the top-16 this morning to split over 24 seconds on the third 50.
100 BREAST: MCHUGH EYES FINNERTY
Max McHugh busted through the elusive 50-second barrier this morning in the 100 breaststroke, becoming the second-fastest performer in history with a time of 49.95.
The Minnesota senior will now take aim at the U.S. Open Record of 49.69, set by Indiana’s Ian Finnerty, in tonight’s final. McHugh also has a chance to win the event for the second year in a row.
McHugh is the big favorite for the title, while the Cal duo of Liam Bell (50.66) and Reece Whitley (50.87) will be looking to get into the top-three and shut out Texas rival Caspar Corbeau (50.77). The Cal men sit 2-4 right now, with Corbeau sandwiched between them in third. These points will be crucial with the team race tightening up.
100 Back: Anyone’s Game
All eight ‘A’ finalists were separated by just 36 one-hundredths in this morning’s 100 back prelims, with Indiana’s Brendan Burns (44.36) and Ohio State’s Hunter Armstrong (44.72) rounding out the field in eighth.
Burns and Armstrong currently rank 1-2 in the nation this season, having been 44.31 and 44.36, respectively, at Big Tens, while the next fastest is NC State’s Kacper Stokowski, who went 44.39 at ACCs and is seeded third out of the prelims in 44.44. (Georgia’s Luca Urlando is actually faster than Stokowski this season, but isn’t racing the event here.)
Florida’s Adam Chaney tied Stokowski’s season-best to sit second in the prelims in 44.39, and then 200 IM runner-up Destin Lasco is ranked fourth after clocking 44.48.
We’ve also got Nicolas Albiero, Dean Farris and Bjorn Seeliger sitting at 44.5. Farris and Seeliger have both looked strong so far in Atlanta, including the Swede Seeliger ripping the fastest 50 back time ever on Cal’s 200 medley relay (20.08).
400 Medley Relay: ….Florida?
The relays have been blazing-fast so far and it’s difficult to predict who will emerge in tonight’s 400 medley.
Florida’s already won two relays, including the 200 medley, and could have the upper hand here. The Gators have ‘A’ finalists in the 100 back (Chaney) and 100 breast (Dillon Hillis), and Eric Friese has been lights out on the relays so far (though he missed earning a second swim in the 100 fly). Kieran Smith is a reliable anchor.
Texas has some different options and will challenge, as will Cal and NC State.
For the Longhorns, Alvin Jiang scratched the 100 back ‘B’ final to rest for this race, so we’ll have to keep an eye on if his presence pays off (he’s also swimming the 100 fly consol earlier on). Jiang will likely swim fly and Cameron Auchinachie will be on backstroke, and they’ll be the key legs.
Corbeau on breast and Kibler or Daniel Krueger on free will be among the fastest in the field.
Indiana, Ohio State and Stanford are the three fastest teams in the nation this season, but IU and OSU’s breaststrokers have been a bit off. For the Cardinal, if Ron Polonsky is near his 50.6 breast split from Pac-12s, they’ll be in the mix. Polonsky swam the 400 IM today, not the 100 breast, finishing a second off his PB and making the ‘B’ final.