2022 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Coming into the men’s 200 fly final, Louisville’s Nick Albiero was the top seed from prelims and on the psych sheet, the defending champion, and the second-fastest performer of all time. To most, he was the heavy favorite to win. Then there was Georgia’s Luca Urlando, the second seed who was red-hot following an American Record in the 100 back the night before, and also had a shot to win in what was considered his best event. These two guys were the center of the discussion as to who would win the 200 fly tonight. But in the end, it was Indiana’s Brendan Burns who pulled off the victory to beat both of them in a huge upset.
In fact, only 2 out of the 713 people entered in our SwimSwam pick’em contest picked Burns to win this race.
Burns was the Big Ten Champion in the event in both his freshman and sophomore year. In his sophomore year, he won the conference title with a time of 1:39.37, but then was over a second slower at 2021 NCAAs to place seventh with a time of 1:40.42. This year, Burns had a phenomenal Big Ten performance, winning the 100 back, 200 back, and 200 fly, which resulted in him winning the Big Ten Swimmer Of The Meet award. There, he reset his best time to a 1:39.34. But even then, the time was only good enough for him to be seeded fifth on the psych sheets, which didn’t exactly make him the favorite.
Despite how well he did at Big Tens, Burns ended up opting for the 100 fly over the 200 back despite being seeded higher in the 200 back, and decided to swim the 100 fly, 100 back, and 200 fly at NCAAs. While we found this decision surprising, it made sense, because a 100 fly/100 back double is a lot less gruelsome than the 200 fly/200 back double. We saw Regan Smith pull the latter double off at last week’s womens meet, but aside from her, it is very rare that we see someone do the double well.
Burns ended up finishing ninth in the 100 fly and second in the 100 back. This morning, his swim from prelims placed him fourth in the 200 fly headed into finals. But then in the big race tonight, after Luca Urlando was first at 50 mark, Burns made a surprise charge to overtake him and never lost his lead. He ended up winning his first-ever NCAA title with a new best time of 1:38.71, 0.11 seconds ahead of Urlando and 0.17 seconds ahead of Albiero. Had he chosen to swim the 200 back before this event, he may not have had the stamina to do what he did tonight.
Brendan Burns, 2022 NCAAs
Luca Urlando, 2022 NCAAs
Nick Albiero, 2022 NCAAs
In fact, Burns’ title marks the first tine that a swimmer from Indiana has won the mens’ 200 fly since the early 1970s, when Mark Spitz took the title in 1971 and 1972 and Gary Hall won in 1973. And his win in the last individual event of the meet will surely be one to remember for the Hoosiers.