2022 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Starting this season, SwimSwam will move our official collegiate swimming & diving awards to after the NCAA Division I Championship meets, because the timing of the calendar year awards just don’t make sense for college swimming.
The men’s 2022 NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships were, simply, electric.
The meet is always electric, but the unanimous agreement is that this might be the best one we’ve ever seen, with upsets, unbelievable records, newcomers, veterans, and a team battle to boot.
Without further ado, here are the 2021-2022 NCAA Swammy Award winners.
FINAL TEAM SCORES
Cal – 487.5
Texas – 436.5
Florida – 374
NC State – 291
Indiana – 265
Arizona State – 236
Stanford – 231
Georgia – 194
Ohio State – 165
Virginia – 154.5
Virginia Tech – 143
Louisville – 132
Harvard – 103
Alabama – 91
LSU/Purdue – 85
Arizona – 79
Tennessee – 72.5
Minnesota/Texas A&M – 44
Georgia Tech – 38
Michigan – 36
Miami (FL) – 31
Columbia – 30
Missouri – 27
USC – 25
UNC – 24
Penn – 22.5
Auburn – 22
Princeton – 14
Kentucky – 11
Northwestern – 6.5
Notre Dame – 5
Utah – 2
Swimmer of the Meet – Leon Marchand, Freshman, Arizona State
There were only two double winners at this week’s meet: LSU junior Brooks Curry and Arizona State freshman Leon Marchand.
Besides coming away with the points tie-breaker (57 for Marchand, 53 for Curry), Marchand also had the more substantial swim of the pair.
His day 1 swim in the 200 IM of 1:37.69, breaking the NCAA and U.S. Open Records previously held by Caeleb Dressel, may be the most impressive of the meet, but definitely set the table for what turned into a record-shredding weekend in Atlanta.
But maybe the most impressive part of that 200 IM is that not long after, he came back and split 18.41 on Arizona State’s 200 free relay – the best split for the Sun Devils en route to a 6th-place finish.
He finished 2nd in the 400 IM in 3:34.08, when the expectation was a win after his 200 IM (the 400 is his better race internationally), but he came back on Saturday and won the 200 breaststroke in 1:48.20.
With blistering legs across four Arizona State relays, individual wins, and records, by the final day, Marchand emerged as the clear choice for this award.
Brooks Curry, Junior, LSU – Curry overcame a lot this year. First, head coach Dave Geyer was replaced to start the year, and then after the beginning of the season, his primary coach Steve Mellor resigned after the start of the season. But under new head coach LSU, it seemed like Curry really got focused on his ‘speed,’ showing huge improvements in the 50 free.
Brendan Burns, Junior, Indiana – Burns pulled off three victories at the Big Ten Championships, winning the 100 back, 200 back, and 200 fly, with the latter two coming on the same day as part of a brutal double, putting up matching 1:39s in each event. Then, this week, at the NCAA Championships, he swapped that 200 back off his schedule and won the 200 fly title – Indiana’s first in that event since 1973. He beat a loaded 200 fly field that included guys like Nic Albiero and an on-fire Luca Urlando, making the victory all the more impressive.
Hugo Gonzalez, Senior, Cal – Last year, Hugo Gonzalez had the fastest time in the NCAA in the 400 IM, but he did it in the B Final at the NCAA Championships. This year, he made no such morning error and rolled to a title and record-setting swim in the 400 IM. It was, in my opinion, the most beautiful swim of the NCAA Championships – from the start, he was off the blocks like a rocket with the kind of power from the blocks rarely seen in a 400 IM, and he carried it through a perfect breaststroke leg with room to spare in the closing freestyle. That’s a swim that will be etched into the lore of swimming for a long, long time.
Coach of the Year: Bob Bowman, Arizona State
At the 2019 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, Arizona State finished in 21st place. The 2020 championships were canceled. The Sun Devils chose not to compete in the next season, 2020-2021, because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They came back this year, without divers, and finished 6th at the NCAA Championships.
Through all of that, somehow, Bowman and his staff managed to keep his team together, managed to recruit the best swimmer in the NCAA this season and tie the program’s best-ever finish at the NCAA Championships.
That’s just too good to be ignored.
Remember that stat we shared after Pac-12s? How the team had dropped 14 seconds off their 400 free relay in 10 seasons? While they didn’t drop that any further at NCAAs, they did finish in 2nd place in 2:46.40 – losing to Texas by a Danny Krueger monster anchor after leading much of the race.
Their relay successes showed just how good of a core Bowman had quietly built in Tempe – their Pac-12 title in the 800 free relay was their first in that race in 31 years.
Bowman’s next act at Arizona State could be his best one: this was a golden year for the Sun Devils, with a lot of seniors and 5th years. Now Bowman will have to figure out how to bridge to the next generation of swimmers and recruits to make this lofty result sustainable. Having Marchand for three more years with a gold medal in a home pool in Paris aglint in his eye sure will help that process.
Dave Durden, Cal – the Golden Bears’ incredible run of 12 consecutive top 2 finishes at the NCAA Championships continued, crowned with the program’s 7th NCAA title – leaving them one behind arch-rivals Stanford. By the time NCAAs arrived, it was a split decision as to whether Cal or Texas would take the win, as the two teams entered the meet in essentially a dead heat. The Cal Bears stepped up, especially Hugo Gonzalez, who got his title and his record in the 400 IM. The Bears lose a big class including Hugo, Reece Whitley, Bryce Mefford, and Trenton Julian. They still back a lot of amazing swimmers, notably Bjorn Seeliger and NCAA Champion Destin Lasco, but their depth will take a hit next fall. Could the streak end? Durden always finds a way.
Dan Schemmel, Stanford – Dan Schemmel really got his legs under him this season at Stanford. The Cardinal were fast multiple times throughout the season, gave Cal their biggest challenge in years at the Pac-12 Championships, and still managed to hold on for good results at NCAAs (including an NCAA title by first year NCAA swimmer Andrei Minakov). The Cardinal men are trending back toward the upper echelon of collegiate swimming, and the Pac-12 is about to get really fun again.
New-Hire Coach of the Year: Rick Bishop, LSU
When LSU head coach Rick Bishop took over the program, he knew he had one piece with which the public would not have much patience for adjustment: U.S. Olympic gold medalist Brooks Curry.
The LSU program didn’t come with the same expectations as, say, Ryan Wochomurka walked into at Auburn. There is no hoard of alumni pressing for NCAA team titles, no “three years to glory” leash, no delusions of grandeur creating expectations.
Except when it comes to Curry. The best swimmer LSU has ever had, the best advertisement for the program, the biggest billboard for LSU athletics – Bishop needed to figure out how to keep his trajectory high, or risk suffering further setbacks in his building efforts in Baton Rouge.
He did that in spades. Initially, that involved keeping Curry’s sprint coach Steve Mellor on staff. But Mellor wound up resigning earlier in the season, leaving Bishop to figure out how to carry forward with Curry. In spite of his Olympic gold medal, Curry’s wins in the 50 and 100 freestyles were both mild upsets, and he got them while still managing to drop a second off his best time in the 200 free.
At this meet, Curry went from ‘how does that skinny kid generate so much speed’ to maybe filling the role as the American #2 sprinter behind Caeleb Dressel heading toward Paris.
So if we had one demand of Bishop in his first year as a head coach, I’d say he met it with flying colors. There were other positive steps, more obvious at conference championship meets, like relay records and better overall scoring, but this was the big one, the billboard, that he’s going to take on a national tour next year as he looks for the next batch of Tiger recruits.
Ryan Wochomurka, Auburn – While the Auburn women missed scoring last week, this week the Auburn men got back on the board with 22 points at the NCAA Championships for a 25th-place finish. That was their highest point total and best finish at NCAAs since 2018. Wochomurka enters his tenure as Auburn head coach with a much different environment than Bishop, but so far it seems like he’s bringing some of that old-time culture back to The Plains. They still didn’t score any sprint freestyle points, and until they do that, the breath on Wochomurka’s neck will be very hot, but it feels like now is when he’s really going to get to work.
Breakout Swimmer of the Year: Jordan Crooks, Fr., Tennessee
Top freshmen don’t automatically get “breakout” status just because they haven’t swum an NCAA season before, but in Crooks’ case, it is warranted. He came to the Volunteers with a personal best of 22.97 in the 50 meter free and 50.25 in the 100 free – clearly talented at that age. But the way he broke through as a freshman at Tennessee is far beyond that.
At the team’s mid-season Tennessee Invitational, his times showed that he was doing well in Knoxville (19.55/42.33 freestyles), but those weren’t even a glimmer of the 18.53/41.16 that he wound up going at NCAAs.
I’ll talk more about his individual races at NCAAs in the Freshman of the Year section, but the most impressive swim he had for me came in the 400 medley relay. There, swimming out of a slower heat, he split 40.52 on the Volunteers’ anchor leg, which was the best split of the field.
Crooks was our biggest ‘miss’ in our pre-meet previews and picks – he showed up big in all of his races this weekend in Atlanta.
Carles Coll Marti, So., Virginia Tech – One of a number of Spaniards who swam well at this meet, at last year’s NCAA Championship, Coll Marti finished 6th in the 200 breast, 29th in the 100 breast, and 33rd in the 200 IM. This year, he rose to a whole other plain, finishing 4th in the 200 breast and the 200 IM for the Hokies.
Luca Urlando’s Backstroke, So., Georgia – I wasn’t sure where else to fit this, but Urlando’s record in the 100 backstroke on a Georgia medley relay leadoff was easily the most surprising result of the week in Atlanta. He swam 43.35 to open Georgia’s 12th-place medley relay, which broke the record of 43.49 that was previously held by Ryan Murphy. He’s now the only swimmer to have been under 44 seconds in the 100 yard backstroke and 100 yard butterfly. Better known as a butterflier, Urlando didn’t even swim the 100 back individually. That’s at least the second time recently where we’ve seen someone break a record at NCAAs in an event that they didn’t swim individually – the other being Dean Farris’ 200 free on an 800 free relay leadoff.
Freshman of the Year: Leon Marchand, Fr., Arizona State
Editor’s note: Andrei Minakov would have been an honorable mention for this award, but Stanford is listing him as a sophomore. Nobody there has been able to clarify his status, so we’ve omitted him from this list.
Leon Marchand is now the fastest freshman in history in both the 200 IM and 400 IM, and the third-fastest freshman in history in the 200 breast.
In the 200 IM, he became the first freshman since Auburn’s George Bovell in 2003 to win the 200 IM at the NCAA Championships.
With two titles, the fastest-ever 200 yard IM, and some dirty relay splits, the 19-year old Frenchman is a no-brainer as the top rookie of 2022.
Jordan Crooks, Fr., Tennessee – When Crooks finished tied for 3rd at NCAAs in the 50 free, he was one of only two freshmen (NC State’s David Curtiss being the other) to score in that race. When he finished 5th in the 100 free, he was again one of only two freshman (Indiana’s Rafael Miroslaw being the other) to do so. No other freshman finished in the top 25 of both races, let alone the top 5.
Matt Fallon, Fr., Penn – Fallon followed his revealing Olympic Trials performance last summer with a brilliant freshman season at Penn that saw him finish with the fastest-ever time in the 200 breaststroke by an NCAA newcomer. He wound up finishing 3rd in that race at the NCAA Championships and 10th in the 100 breaststroke a day earlier.