2013 Men’s NCAA Picks: Texas’ Best Relay Looks At a Repeat in 800

Last year at NCAA’s, it took a 6:15.55 from Texas to win the NCAA title.

This year, two teams have already been better than that time: the Michigan Wolverines (6:13.70) and the Florida Gators (6:14.76).

Seed times, however, rarely determine a champion, and last year those top two seeded teams were the ones, among the top 8, that added the most times at NCAA’s: Michigan went +5.3, and Florida went +3.5. The year before, Michigan’s 800 added as well, though the Gators had a drop to win this relay that year (Rousseau is the lone holdover from that group).

That leaves the two teams behind them sitting in good positions, despite what seeds might say. USC was a 6:16.88 at Pac-12’s, with Cristian Quintero and Dimitri Colupaev on the back-end as a pair of NCAA title contenders in this race.

The Texas Longhorns, who are behind them as the 4th seed, also have a pair of NCAA title contenders, with Clay Youngquist and Dax Hill each within reach of 1:32 flat-starts this year.

Fill those lineups out with some guys that would be strong #1’s on other top-10 relays (Alex Lendrum, Kip Darmody, Chad Bobrosky, etc) and I think that’s where your battle lies at NCAA’s. My edge goes to Texas, as I’d take their third swimmer over USC’s third swimmer, but not by much. Texas dropped big in this relay at NCAA’s last year: a very rare feat given the different circumstances in the event’s timing between conference and national championship meets.

That’s no disrespect to Michigan and Florida; I’m just factoring in recent history here. Nobody goes 6:13.70 or 6:14.76 in-season without some serious studs, and Michigan’s time very well could end up being the fastest of the year. Michigan has Georgia-women-like depth in the 200 freestyle, so by the time Friday evening rolls around they’ll be able to choose some options from whoever is swimming best this weekend. Freshman mid-season transfer Anders Nielsen has given this Michigan relay that has a new edge that has an unbelievably complete 1-4, including Michael Wynalda.

Florida too is great top-to-bottom. Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, and Marcin Cieslak make an international relay that just eats up the 200 free in yards.

There seems to be a pretty steep drop-off after those top four relays. Cal, as always, is the one that can leap that gap. They were 2nd in this race last year at NCAA’s, even without anybody placing top-8 in the individual race. That’s in part because Tom Shields is so good, but doesn’t swim this race individually. But they always pull out a bunch of 1:33’s from unexpected places.

This is a key relay for the Golden Bears’ rivals from Stanford, who have as good of a shot at an NCAA team title as we’ve seen in years out of Palo Alto. The trick is, unless they make a change from Pac-12’s and put David Nolan or Aaron Wayne on this relay (Wayne swam it at NCAA’s last year), they’ll have four new and relatively green guys on this 800. At Pac-12’s, it was Tom Kremer, Sean Duggan, Mitch Stoehr, and Thomas Stephens, and they swam a 6:22.32 that’s seeded 12th. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind about what, exactly, that relay can do, but I feel good about expecting them to be better than they were at Pac-12’s. I can say that much.

The ACC has two very good relays in this race: Virginia, the conference champions, and North Carolina State, who touched first before their infamous DQ. Both teams handled it well (the Virginia swimmers out of respect even offered their gold medals to NC State), but there will still be some pride at stake for both relays to outplace the other. This is the one relay every year that Virginia wants to do well in; and despite two graduations from last season, freshman Nick Alexiou is living up to the hype in year one. NC State, after that DQ, used aggregate times to get into the meet, which means they’ll end up in a lower heat. That has both pros and cons.

Indiana has put together another good free relay in this 800, led-off by Eric Ress. Tennessee comes in seeded one spot behind them in 7th with a 6:20.13 from SECs, and after seeing what their women did at NCAA’s, we have to expect that they’ll be dropping time as well. Arizona will also move up from their 15th spot; getting Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or back from a redshirt year is as good as any relay addition in the country (outside of Rousseau at Florida), and the coaches in Tucson are really high about freshman Kelly Moodie’s middle-distance potential.

This relay is all about completeness, just like the women’s has also become. The men’s relays, though, will still allow such lofty finishes from teams that have just a very good four with no weakness. These relays, in the new format, have the advantage of fatigue: many of them are swimming just relays, and will save quite a few races coming into this 800 at the end of the day 2. That’s teams like Auburn, who has James Disney-May as their star, Zane Grothe coming down from the distance races (very well at that), and a pair of relay-only guys.

Texas A&M also qualifies under that umbrella, with John Dalton as the star. (Side note: a few years ago, if you’d told somebody this 800 might be A&M’s best relay, they probably would’ve laughed you out of the building. It might be true though, as Dalton has three teammates who will be swimming only relays – and only free relays, at that).

The Aggies and the Harvard Crimson both return entire relays from last year’s meet (they were 11th and 13th, respectively), though A&M made changes anyway. Georgia, meanwhile, only graduated their slowest swimmer from last year’s 8th-place relay, and with Matias Koski and Chase Kalisz coming in as super-freshmen, their challenge to return will be the teams moving around them. It doesn’t seem like a 6:25 (their time last year) will make top 8 in this relay; although, if times slow like the women’s meet did, maybe it will. They’ve already cleared that this season though, as have 18 other teams.

Top 8 Picks, and Seed Times, are below:

1. Texas, 6:17.33
2. USC, 6:16.88
3. Florida, 6:14.76
4. Michigan, 6:13.70
5. Cal, 6:18.83
6. Arizona, 6:22.88
7. Tennessee, 6:20.13
8. Georgia, 6:23.55

Darkhorse: Wisconsin, 6:23.98 – With Michael Weiss and Daniel Lester on the front-half, the Badgers should lead the third-to-last heat of this relay early on. Tyler Hines was a very good anchor at Big Tens with a 1:35.92. Senior Garrett Mulchrone on the third leg is the key; if everyone hits their taper, and Mulchrone can split something under 1:37, then the Badgers could have a 6:20 relay on their hands.

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Hook 'em

I think this will be a tough race for Texas this year since they will most likely have two new faces on this relay. It’ll come down to how well they can perform at the big show and hold their own. Hopefully they can get it done

SEC_G8R

I am calling it….there is bias in these picks. Really having the top two teams entered 3rd and 4th. I would expect at least on of them to be 2nd. I understand that because the 800 is swam on a different day at conference than at NCAA might factor into it, but they are much faster than the others. I would say you need to re-think the predictions a bit and at least entertain the possibility that Mich or Florida may get at least 2nd!!

swimmer 2

Didn’t Braden go to A&M? And don’t they hate Texas?

John Smith

Braden’s A&M blood runs deep. There is no pro Texas bias …… 🙂

It was probably very painful to title the article the way he did.

Umfan

4th? Really? Come on… Michigan’s depth this year is unbelievable! I know that everyone outside of Ann Arbor thinks that Michigan is going to fall off but 4th?! I just cannot see the combination of Wynalda, Nielsen, and then either Glanda, Abdel-Khalik, or Jaeger are going to fall off that much. There is just too much experience and too much talent in that group to not be atleast top 2. Even looking at past results you have an all american 200 freestyler (Wynalda), two Olympians (Jaeger and Nielsen) and then an all american 500 freestyler (Abdel-Khalik). Ignoring the fact that these swimmers may not be qualifiers in these particular events, the experience is still there which leads me to believe… Read more »

Hook 'em

The amount of whiny UM fans on this site, as well as on college swimming is absolutely ridiculous. Please, please, just stop your b******* and moaning. You do realize that, despite Michigans talent and depth this year that there are other talented and prepared teams in the country, right? No matter how well they swim, they aren’t going to win every event, despite what all of you UM fans think. You know, there was a point when I genuinely hoped Michigan would win NCAAs this year since, being a Longhorn, I was utterly sick of seeing Cal win. However, seeing as reading about how amazing UM is from all of their fans and hearing about how ‘unfair’ every non-Michigan fan… Read more »

duckduckgoose

This is a terrific catchall site for swimming, but the whiny perceived slights about people’s alma mater are a bit much. The NCAA is fortunate to have so many schools that are extremely strong in academics and swimming, One would hope that the requisite critical thinking would follow naturally, Hopefully everyone cherishes and values their school days, but that doesn’t mean your school’s going to win every race or that anyone who thinks otherwise is a biased moron. The initial reason I started commenting here was because I was appalled by some of the comments about Stanford swimming. Even chose my name as an obscure/esoteric homage to a well-known institutional watering hole near that big ass Taco Bell. Doesn’t mean… Read more »

jman

My UM joke (which probably goes for most ‘elite’ universities): When at a party how can you tell who went to UM? Just wait a minute and they will surely tell you about it!

I also do recall fondly when Michigan State’s football coach called UM and their fans ‘arrogant a$$es’.

Having put in my UM bashing, i think they are responding to all the ‘UM never drops time’ statements. At some point Bottom will have it all figured out. Based on their changeup in training philosophy this year…this may be the year they do it.

Goodsport

Actually I have a diificult time making a difference between a Michigan fan and a Cal fan whether they wear the same colors or not. Every fan and swimmer wants there team to win. Most people on this forum don’t realize that the top swimmers on one team are close friends with a swimmer on another team whether it be Auburn, Standford, Florida ETC. Good sportsmanship goes a long way, at the pool and away from the pool. May the best team , man win.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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