This weekend marked the start of mid-season invite season in the NCAA. Teams usually suit up and rest a little for these meets, so there are lots of fast swims. With so much swimming news happening over the last couple days it’s easy to miss things. To make sure you’re caught up, I compiled some highlights from this weekend.
15:41.35 in November is the time of a serious national title contender, not something we say often about a swimmer from the University of Hawaii. This time would have ranked 4th last year and Ally McHugh is the only returning swimmer that was faster last year. Other than Olympic medalists Ledecky and Smith, it’s been 6 years since we’ve seen a time this fast, this early in the season. (Stephanie Peacock of North Carolina was a 15:37.06 at the 2012 Ohio St Invite).
15:41 was a 13 second PR for Australian junior Hines. She was 15:57.76 at this meet last year, 15:54.31 at her conference meet, and 15:58.72 at nationals.
How good is 44.61? As far as I can tell it’s the fastest pre-January NCAA time ever. It ties Ryan Murphy’s best pre-January time. It is only .01 slower than Ryan Lochte’s long standing NCAA record of 44.60. The fastest two times in the NCAA all season last year were Coleman Stewart at 44.54 and John Shebat at 44.59. It’s a PR for Nikolaev- his old best was 44.71, and it’s .38 faster than he was at this point last year (44.99).
Georgia Tech swam a 1:24.23, the top time in the country so far this year. I can sense what you’re thinking. “It’s November. It’s Georgia Tech. Wait until the big teams try. That swim won’t look so good.” Ignore those thoughts. This is a fast time. As of January 1st last season, a 1:24.23 would’ve ranked 4th. This would’ve been the 12th best time all of last season. Georgia Tech’s best ranked relay last year was 26th (800 free relay). Both their medleys were 30th. Their best 200 medley time last year was 1:25.81.
The relay was made up of 3 sophomores and a senior, so all of this improvement is in house, not due to a recruiting coup.
Tech haven’t won anything meaningful with this swim, but they’re suddenly on the radar as a serious threat to final at nationals in this event. It’ll be interesting to see where they end up at the end of the year.
Houston sophomore Katie Higgins swam a 53.83 100 fly to break the 40 year old school record of 54.11 held by Diane Johannigman. Johannigman’s record was so old it pre dated NCAA sanctioned women’s swimming by 4 years. In 1978, women’s teams competed in the AIAW. In 1978, Johnannigman’s 54.11 was the American record. It stood for a year until it was broken by Jill Sterkel’s 54.06.
One note on Johannigman’s record. Houston’s website lists the swim as happening on March 17th, 1978. However I can’t find any documentation of it happening then. I have found multiple sources (1,2) stating the swim happened on April 5th, 1978 at the AAU national championships where she was competing for the Cincinnati Pepsi Marlins (yes, that team name is a reference to the soda). She was a Houston student at the time, but wasn’t competing at a college meet. More on Higgin’s swim here.
Stony Brook’s swimming and diving team was dissolved for 5 years while their pool was renovated. In their first year back last year, the team went winless and endured some rocky coaching. Under new coach Kerry Smith this weekend they beat LIU-Post, a division 2 team (Stony Brook is D1). The dual meet was competitive, finishing 124-109. Long Island had a chance to close the final margin to 1 entering the final 400 free relay, but Stony Brook won the event by 15 seconds to emphatically close out the win.
British swimmer Anna Hopkin has only been on campus at Arkansas for a few months, but she has already made a huge impact on the Razorbacks records. This weekend she broke school records 8 times in 6 different events. She set records in the 50 free (21.64), 100 free (47.05), 200 free (1:45.48), 100 fly (52.61), 200 free relay (1:29.21), and 800 free relay (7:13.50) (she broke the 50 and 100 free records in prelims and again in finals).
Northern Iowa sophomore Katie Taylor broke 6 school records at the Kansas Classic. She set marks in the 100 back (54.24), 200 back (1:56.37), 200 IM (1:59.58), 400 IM (4:16.02), 200 medley relay (1:41.02), and 400 medley relay (3:41.48). In addition to Taylor’s swims, Northern Iowa records fell in Crystal Florman’s 100 free (49.85), and Moriah Ross’s 200 breast (2:13.09).
LSU junior Matthew Klotz became the first deaf swimmer officially under 20 seconds in the 50 free, and set the mark at 19.77, the 9th best time in LSU history. We did a full write up on this. Read about it here.
King swam a 56.43 100 breast at the IU Invite, the 3rd fastest time ever and less than .2 from her 56.25 American record. She also went a 2:03.60 in the 200 breast, the 6th fastest time ever, a second off her American record of 2:02.60. We spoke with King after her 100 breast. View that interview here.
The Minnesota freshman’s 22.51 split came after the backstroker on his relay DQ’d for going past the 15 meter mark underwater. McHugh can’t seem to put down a fast breast split without a controversy. Last year, he split a controversial 22.69 at a high school sectional meet. More on his swim this weekend here.