2014 M. NCAA Picks: 200 Back – When Did 1:41 Become Ho-Hum?

Imagine you are a senior, feeling pretty good about your 1:41-mid 200 back. In your freshman year, you’d have been seeded top-six, breezed into the A final, and finished top-four had you just kept going 1:41-mids. Same thing sophomore year. Last year you’d have had to step it up a little; you’d have needed a 1:40-high to guarantee your presence in the A final. But hey, if you’d been stuck at 1:41-mid you’d still have been in one of the middle lanes of the B final. But this year… you look at the psych sheet and… you’re seeded 22nd? WHAT?

Welcome to the new normal.

This year’s top four are all seeded 1:39 and under; the next nine are 1:40s, and the following eleven are 1:41s. You have to go down to 25th to find a 1:42; his time would have been 15th on the psych sheet last year and 8th in 2012.






Top prelims time





Psych Sheet 1st





Prelims 8th qualifier





Psych Sheet 8th





Prelims 16th qualifier





Psych Sheet 16th






The star power in this race is mind-boggling. Pretty much any one of the top eight or so could wind up atop the podium. In addition to the returning stars from last year’s final, there are some new faces that could steal the thunder.

Eric Ress, senior, Indiana (1:38.89): Ress leads the 2014 pack with the fastest seed time which he achieved at this year’s B1G championships. Ress won by a full second and broke Matt Grevers’ 2007 record by 6/10 in the process. It was his best-ever 200 back, a full second faster than his fifth-place swim in finals at NCAAs last year. Ress took second in 2011.

Ryan Murphy, freshman, Cal (1:39.21): Murphy broke the meet record winning this event at Pac12s and notched his second-best lifetime swim. He has been a second faster, though; Murphy went 1:38.15 at Winter Nationals in December, 2012. That’s just a half a second off Tyler Clary’s 2009 NCAA record. This could very well be the year that record goes down, and Ryan Murphy could very well be the one who makes it happen.

Sean Lehane, sophomore, Tennessee (1:39.64): Lehane had a big breakthrough at SECs this season. A year ago he had gone four 1:41s at SECs and NCAAs – personal bests by three seconds. This February he crashed through the 1:40 barrier and won his first conference title. Lehane was eleventh at this meet last year.

Andrew Teduits, junior, Wisconsin (1:39.84): Teduits, the defending NCAA champion, comes in a tad faster than a year ago with a seed time of 1:39.8 from his second-place finish at B1Gs. Another meet like last year’s NCAAs, where he went a 1:38.27 to touch out the field by more than a second, and Teduits is right there in the mix for this year’s crown.

Jacob Pebley, sophomore, Cal (1:40.38): Pebley’s seed time is from Pac12s where he finished second to Ryan Murphy but ahead of Nolan. It was his best performance outside of 2013 NCAAs where he went 1:39 twice and took third place behind Teduits and Nolan.

Stephen Coetzer, junior, NC State (1:40.53): Coetzer had a monster swim at ACCs this year; he dropped six off his seed time in prelims and set the meet record. He ended up second to UVA’s Papendick but swam another “A” cut with his 1:41.2. It will be interesting to see how much more he’s got in the tank.

Jack Conger, freshman, Texas (1:40.56): The hugely-versatile Conger has had a great start to his college career, scoring big points for the Longhorns in nearly every event at some time or another. He comes in with a 1:40-mid from Big 12s (which set the meet record) but his lifetime best is a 1:38-high from the Tom Dolan Invitational in December 2012. Conger is a serious contender for the 200 back title.

David Nolan, junior, Stanford (1:40.60): Nolan’s seed time comes from his third-place finish at 2014 Pac12s.He took second at last year’s NCAAs with a lifetime best of 1:39.31. Nolan is an extreme talent who could possibly have won this event had it fallen on the first day of the meet, but with all the racing he’ll be doing over the three days he’ll have to be the king of recovery to go the 1:37 that it will take to win this event. Not saying it can’t be done, though.

Luke Papendick, sophomore, Virginia (1:40.99): Papendick went a personal best in winning ACCs this year. He was a half-second faster than his lifetime best from last year’s NCAAs, where he had finished ninth, and a full second ahead of his second-place finish at 2013 ACCs.


Looking back at the last several years of NCAA results, the 200 back has been a strong event for Stanford (32-48-29 points in each of the last three years, respectively), Texas (24-10-27), and Arizona (7-22-32). This year, however, these schools will likely lose ground to Cal, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin.


Top 8 Picks plus seed times:
1 Ryan Murphy, 1:39.21
2 Jack Conger, 1:40.56
3 Andrew Teduits, 1:39.84
4 Eric Ress 1:38.89
5 Jacob Pebley, 1:40.38
6 Sean Lehane, 1:39.64
7 David Nolan, 1:40.60
8 Luke Papendick, 1:40.99


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No faith in Nolan? sigh,,,guess we’ll see


He’s bound to get tired from carrying his team at some point…



Wow… too much Nolan/Stanford love on the 200 IM breakdown… too little here… tough crowd.


An interesting exercise is to peruse the USA top 100 lists for 15/16 & 17/18. It gives you a good sense of event trends. This 100/200 back trend upwards(downwards? You know what I mean) was the most obvious one I’ve seen since I’ve watched these lists. Other current events trending faster, off the top of my head, in the coming years: sprint free, 100 fly, 100 breast. Events looking stagnant: distance free, 200 fly(although a few blazing LC times – Lynch etc.). There is endless fun for us swim wonks in those lists. Check ’em out


I sometimes forget Ryan Murphy is only in his Freshman year. I have him winning the 200 back as well. Go Bears!

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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