10 Of The Top Performers From Week Three Of The 2024 Major Conference Championships

by Sean Griffin 5

March 05th, 2024 Big 12, Big Ten, College, News, Pac-12

All but one of the major NCAA conference meets are in the books and many great swims have been posted across the country. We’ve put together a list of ten swimmers/teams that had great meets or breakthroughs this past week. This list is not a ranking, therefore it’s in no particular order.

Several people not on this list had great performances over the past week, such as Matt Fallon‘s nation-leading 200 breast (1:49.75), Lindsay Looney‘s Pac 12 performances, and Taiko Torepe Ormsby‘s Big Ten swims, but we want to provide a fair mix of breakthroughs and under the radar swims that haven’t been deeply discussed yet.

Here’s the list of 10 (with some bonuses tossed in) for this week:

Jordan Tiffany (Brigham Young University)

Photo: Courtesy Jordan Tiffany/BYU Athletics

Brigham Young junior transfer Jordan Tiffany continued his progressive rise at the 2024 Big 12 Championships. After previously focusing on the 200 of strokes and the 400 IM, Tiffany recently made the transition to a fully sprint-based training approach. With that being said, he did return to the 200 IM at Big 12s, where he gave the two Texas freshman (Will Modglin & Nate Germonprez) a challenge the whole race. Tiffany ultimately finished 3rd in a substantial best time of 1:41.88, after dropping his previous best to 1:42.84 during the prelims.

Tiffany also posted best times in the 100 fly (44.51) and 100 free (42.29) over the course of the week, with the 100 fly performance earning him a Big 12 title. Tiffany owns a best time of 45.22 in the 100 back, and led off BYU’s 400 medley relay at this meet, but ultimately slipped at the start. Given he had a drop all of his other individual events, he could be looking at a sub-45 100 back performance in the coming months.

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Caroline Bricker (Stanford)

Stanford freshman Caroline Bricker clocked personal best times en masse at the PAC 12 Championships. She opened the meet with a 1:55.14 200 IM best time in prelims, before dropping all the way down to 1:53.31 in the final. She won the event, and then proceeded to double up on IM wins in the 400 (4:02.32) the very next day, in another best time. She was also 2nd in the 200 breast (2:07.20), just off her best time of 2:06.85 from the Texas Invite in November.

What may have gone unnoticed was her time trial performance in the 200 fly. She specializes in both breaststroke and butterfly, and of course is great in the IMs, but entered the 200 breast over the 200 fly on the final day in Federal Way. This decision was probably because she time trialed the 200 fly at the beginning of the meet, where she hit the wall in a big best time of 1:52.07. She sits 6th in the NCAA rankings for the 200 fly and 8th in the 200 breast, and both of her times are NCAA Championship A-final worthy, so it will be interesting to see which event the Stanford coaching staff opts to enter her in for NCAAs.

It’s worth noting that many of the swimmers ranked ahead of her in the 200 fly (Alex Walsh, Bella Sims, and Olivia Bray) may or may not swim the event at NCAAs. Walsh could opt for the 200 breast, Sims will likely choose the 200 back, and Bray could go with the 200 back or 200 fly. Taking that into consideration, she may favor the 200 fly, since she’s ranked higher in it and she’ll likely rise up on the psych sheet with at least one of those swimmers opting for a different event.

Tyler Ray (Michigan)

Photo Courtesy: Tyler Ray

Michigan sophomore Tyler Ray had great performances across the board at the B1G Ten Championships. After not qualifying for NCAAs a year ago, and swimming exhibition for Michigan at 2023 B1G Tens, he posted times that will easily advance him this year. His highest finish came in the form of the 100 fly, where he hit the wall in 44.91 for 3rd place. He also scored 76 points at this year’s B1G Ten Championships, the fourth highest on his team.

Ray showed progress at the Georgia Invite in November, posting best times in his main events there, but took it to a whole new level in Columbus. See his progression from just the past season, below:

Event Before the 2023-2024 Season At The 2024 B1G Ten Championships Total Time Drop From Last Season Through B1G Tens
100 Fly 46.58 44.77 -1.82
200 Fly 1:46.28 1:40.80 -5.48
50 Free 19.98 19.47 -0.51

Paige MacEachern (UCLA)

The UCLA women had a promising showing at the PAC 12 Championships, highlighted by huge time drops from junior Paige MacEachern. She grabbed 2nd place in the 400 IM final, dropping her best time from 4:06.15 to 4:03.47. The swim immediately inserted her into the NCAA A-final conversation, which would be a significant improvement from her 2023 15th place finish. At the World University Games in August, she snagged a bronze medal for Team USA in the long course version of this event. She has improved each season at UCLA, showcasing strong development across a wide range of events.

Beyond her 400 IM performance, she recorded new personal bests in both the 200 IM and 200 fly. She broke 1:57 in the 200 IM for the first time, skipping the 1:56-mark altogether in 1:55.97. She also chopped a few tenths off her 200 fly best, clocking 1:56.80. Maceachern’s breaststroke was a big difference maker in her IM races, splitting 32.94 in the 200 IM as well as 34.00/34.10 in the 400 IM. She actually out-split Caroline Bricker of Stanford in the 400 IM on the breast leg. Bricker is known to be a great 100/200 breaststroker, so Maceachern’s showing on that leg could foreshadow a venture into the 200 breast realm sometime in the future. Her best time in that event is 2:15.20, which was put on the books pre-college in 2020.

Gal Cohen Groumi (Michigan)

Gal Cohen Groumi, a Michigan junior, posted several best times at the Men’s Big Ten Championships. Leaving the meet with two individual titles, he posted his first sub-1:41 (1:40.48) 200 IM time AND first sub-1:40 (1:39.60) 200 fly performances. He added a runner-up finish in the 100 fly (44.60), just off his 44.50 best time from last year’s meet. He also led-off Michigan’s 400 and 800 free relays with best times of 42.52 and 1:32.07. Cohen Groumi featured in the A-final of the 200 fly at the 2023 NCAA Championships, but now inserts himself into the conversation of making three individual A-finals next month.

He was slightly off his season best times at last year’s NCAA meet, but that could be different this season with the new Michigan coaching staff. His 200 fly from this year’s Big Tens would’ve ranked him 1st after prelims of 2023 NCAAs, with his 100 fly (8th) and 200 IM (4th) also being A-final worthy at that meet. Things are different from year to year, but if he can replicate these times next month, he’ll challenge for three A-finals.

Aurora Roghair (Stanford)

Like her teammate Bricker, Stanford junior Aurora Roghair is having the season of her life. She set best times in every freestyle event throughout the season, and had another sizable drop in the 500 and 1650 this past week at PAC 12s.

At Pac 12s, she posted a 2nd place finish in the 500 free (4:36.32) before bagging bronze in the 200 free (1:43.48) on the third day. Her best swim came on the final night, where she defended her 1650 title with a strong back half effort, overtaking ASU’s Deniz Ertan to win by over 12 seconds (15:46.35). She also clocked best times in the 200 (1:42.44) and 1000 (9:29.24) freestyles during dual meets.

Heading into NCAAs, Roghair sits 8th in the 200 free, 6th in the 500 free, and 3rd in the 1650 free. Her highest finish at the 2023 NCAA Championships was 17th in the 1650, so she could realistically go from not scoring to making three championship finals.

Event Before the 2023-2024 Season Current Best Time Total Time Drop From Last Season Through PAC 12s
 
200 Free 1:44.77 1:42.44 *About 15 minutes after a 9:35.29 1000 Free -2.33
500 Free 4:39.77 4:36.32 -3.45
1000 Free 9:40.74 9:29.24 -11.50
1650 Free 16:01.55 15:46.35 -15.20

Texas Mens 800 Free Relay (photo: Jack Spitser)

Coby Carrozza (Texas)

Texas senior Coby Carrozza recorded multiple best times at this week’s Big 12 Championships. He swept the middle distance freestyles, winning the 500 (4:11.95) before the 200 (1:32.63) a few days later. The 500 free time was a personal best, and he led-off Texas’ 800 free relay on night one in a best time of 1:31.97. He also added a 4th place finish in the 100 free, swimming another best time of 42.83.

For a team that usually saves their fastest swims for the NCAA Championships, Carrozza going best times at this point bodes really well for his individual scoring potential later this month. Beyond Carrozza’s swims, the Texas men as a whole showed out quite well. Freshman Nate Germonprez swam to several best times (and splits) and Will Modglin added a 200 IM best time.

Photo Courtesy: Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Regan Rathwell (Tennessee)

After battling injuries over the past few years and missing the SEC Championships, Tennessee’s Regan Rathwell had a big breakthrough at the Last Chance meet in her home pool. She hit the wall in 1:52.96 for the 200 back, smashing her previous lifetime best (1:55.47) and dipping under last year’s NCAA invite time (1:53.34). It was a big rebound for the redshirt freshman, who’s suffered a labrum injury and broken foot over the past 2 years.

Prior to her arrival at Tennessee, Rathwell was a staple on the Canadian junior scene. She owns best times of 1:00.90 and 2:09.54 in the LCM 100/200 backs, and has competed at international meets such as Junior Pan Pacs and the Mare Nostrum circuit.

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Indiana Men’s Breaststroke

Photo Courtesy: Jack Spitser (Pictured: Jassen Yep)

The Indiana Hoosiers put on a breaststroke clinic at the B1G Ten Championships. In the 100 breast, they comprised half of the A-final, and they swept 1st through 4th in the 200 distance. While IU has been a known for breaststroke, they have been developing non-breaststrokers into national title contenders over the past couple of years. Last year, it was Van Mathias (who is now graduated), and this year it was Finn Brooks. Both swimmers were known primarily as butterfly and freestyle specialists before making the breaststroke transition. Van Mathias did dabble in breaststroke earlier in his career (pre-Indiana), but Brooks is a complete revelation.

The 200 was particularly impressive, as all of the top four posted times that would’ve scored at the 2023 NCAA Championships, which bodes well for one month’s time.

100 Breaststroke:

200 Breaststroke: 

Cal Women

The Golden Bear women were on fire this week in Federal Way. It was anticipated to be a close meet with USC and Stanford, but Cal staked their claim early on. Depth really shined through for the Bears, and every member of the team stepped up. Senior Isabelle Stadden, who has been one of their top performers since arriving on campus, swept the 100 and 200 backstroke titles. But behind Stadden’s title-winning swims, improvements were evident from several swimmers.

One of those athletes is junior Mia Kragh, who won the 100 fly title in her first ever sub-51 performance. Junior Stephanie Akakabota won 50 free silver from lane eight, hitting a new best time of 22.02 in the process. Akakabota has been on a steady progression all season, claiming wins in the 50 free at dual meets versus UCLA, ASU, and Stanford.

Graduate student Rachel Klinker is another name that can’t go without mentioning, as she reclaimed her PAC 12 title in the 200 fly. She won the event her freshman year (2020), but had a big breakthrough this past weekend by dropping her best time from 2022 NCAAs (1:52.19) to 1:51.74. Klinker recently had a big drop in the long course pool, cutting more than a full second off her previous best at the Doha World Championships (LCM) in February.

With great recruiting classes on the horizon over the next few years, including the class of 2025 where they received verbal commitments from Alex Shackell, Teagan O’Dell, and Claire Weinstein, the future looks extremely bright for the Golden Bears.

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Old Swim Coach
1 month ago

Texas men, as a whole, performed really well. Add in Luke and Jake who weren’t at conference and they will be better than most gave them credit for at the beginning of the season.

Lion
1 month ago

SwimSwam (and everyone else) completely ignoring the strides the Penn State men have made is embarrassing. Mariano Lazzerini came out of nowhere with a Big Ten Title, school record by a full second, and is now top 5 in the country, arguably one of the biggest stories of Big Tens going completely under the radar. Lazzerini was the only person to draw blood from IU’s breaststroke group, and was damn close to doing it again in the 200. You wrote a whole section about IU breaststroke and didn’t even mention they guy that beat them all. Cooper Morley had a massive drop in the 100 back to scare the defending NCAA champ plus Shane Ryan’s legendary school record and is… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  Lion
1 month ago

Damn, I’m humiliated about the 12 Penn State things we shared on social media this week. Thanks for putting us in our place.

WE ARE!!!
Reply to  Lion
1 month ago

7th place

Carrie
1 month ago

So good to see the Stanford girls having so much improvement. They’ve had a rough couple years and lots of accusations of swimmers stagnating but seems like their girls are getting over plateaus at all levels this season.