2014 M. NCAA Picks: New faces looking to crash the splash-and-dash

The title of “Fastest Man in College Swimming” will change hands again this year, with 2013 champ Vlad Morozov forgoing his senior season to turn pro. The top three a year ago were in a league of their own, but the two returners of that trio will have to fight off some new faces to stay at the top of the shortest race in the NCAA.

Marcelo Chierighini is the top returner after being the only man besides Morozov under 19 seconds last year. The Brazilian senior is the next star of Auburn’s storied sprinting legacy, and he comes into this race with the third seed at 19.04. Third behind him last season was Derek Toomey, who’s the latest and greatest member of what’s become another 50 freestyle factory as of late in Minnesota. He was 19.10 a year ago, 19.05 in winning the Big Ten title, and the World University Games medalist always seems to show up big in his biggest moments.

But the top seed, and perhaps the favorite, is newcomer Brad Tandy of Arizona. A former junior college national champ, Tandy made his Arizona debut just a few weeks ago, going 18.80 to win the Pac-12 title. If he can hang onto that speed, he’s got a solid shot to win the meet without even needing to drop any time. Tandy seems pretty consistent, as he also went 18.97 swimming unattached at the Texas Invite in December.

There’s another Brad to watch out for, and that’s the fast-rising Brad deBorde of the Florida Gators. DeBorde has done nothing but improve the past few years, going 19.2 as a sophomore, 19.1 last year and 18.88 in winning the SEC title over Chierighini earlier this year. Staying under 19 will be the key for deBorde; he’s added time at NCAAs the past two seasons, but he’s still a likely A-finalist even with a bit of a dropoff.

Florida State’s Paul Murray came from nowhere to blow up the ACC, going 19.04 for the title and a share of the 3-seed at NCAAs. He was just 19.34 at his best last year, so it’s been a gigantic senior season for the Seminole. In a race where one mistake can cost a tremendous amount of time, Murray is another one who will have to stay focused and put up a great morning swim – he gained almost a half-second at NCAAs last year and missed a finals swim by about a tenth.

UNLV’s Dillon Virva has been tearing up the desert out west this year, and the WAC champ is another new name to watch out for. He was just 19.9 as a freshman, but has really hit his stride in his second collegiate season, going 19.11 at the conference championship after an outstanding season. Tied with him for the 6-seed is junior David Williams, who was a huge part of NC State’s explosion at the conference level this season. Williams will continue to be key in the Wolfpack’s fortunes as they try to recapture that momentum on the nation’s biggest stage.

Cal’s Seth Stubblefield is a returning A-finalist who had a great NCAA meet last year, dropping two tenths from his seed to move up into 6th. He comes in at a 19.32, so another solid taper like that and he’ll be picking up major points for the championship-hungry Bears.

More new faces: Auburn freshman Kyle Darmody will try to use this meet to firmly establish himself as the heir apparent to the graduating Chierighini, while first-year Kristian Gkolomeev from Alabama will try to help the Crimson Tide one-up their bitter SEC rivals in an event that Auburn has owned for years.

Top 8 picks with seed times:

1. Brad Tandy, Arizona – 18.80
2. Marcelo Chierighini, Auburn – 19.04
3. Derek Toomey, Minnesota – 19.05
4. Brad deBorde, Florida – 18.88
5. Paul Murray, Florida State – 19.04
6. Dillon Virva, UNLV – 19.11
7. Seth Stubblefield, Cal – 19.32
8. Kyle Darmody, Auburn – 19.21

Darkhorse: Shayne Fleming, Cal – He took 7th last year, so he’s far from an unknown commodity. Still, his 19.41 last year probably won’t get him into the top 8 this year unless the field drops off dramatically. If Fleming can pull off that magical Cal NCAA taper, he’s definitely got the speed to compete, and he’s showed up big-time in college swimming’s biggest spotlight the last two years.

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Shayne Fleming tapered and shaved for the PAC 12 Championship meet and barely qualified on his 5th or 6th time trial attempt. I’d say that qualifies him as the darkest of all darkhorses!


How do you know he tapered?


Less dark of a darkhorse would be Tyler Messerschmidt of Cal. He should definitely drop some time at the NCAA and he has the talent to A final in my opinion.


Messerschmidt with the talent and speed 19.25 and 42.11 at Sectionals last year, do not know how he is not the darkhorse. He’s the key to the resurgence of the Cal 200 free relay 2 years ago NCAA champs with him last year 5th without him, better believe he’s coming back with a vengeance


Will be interesting to finally see Tandy challenged in his collegiate career, no one was close in the 50 to him in Juco(Weir did make it interesting the 100 though) and throughout the 2 meets he’s swam at Zona no one has been close to making it a race. He’ll have the lead by a good margin at the 15 the question will be can he hold off Marcelo,Deborde,Murray, and company. Side note the only two people to officially beat Tandy in the last three years, Matt Targett(second fastest all time in the 50 free) and Roland Schoeman (SCM world record holder) and I highly doubt he’s planning on letting anyone else join the list


Agree, he has an almost unbelievably fantastic start and may have almost a 0.25 sec lead at the 15. The remaining 35 yards is where it will be very interesting.


Do you mean beat Tandy head to head, or someone has gone a time that is faster? Head to head doesn’t really tell you much since he was a JUCO swimmer, and didn’t have the type of competition he does now. So far at Zona, he’s only swum a meet or two, so he hasn’t really had very many opportunities to race the fastest people in meets. It shouldn’t matter though. He’s really fast.

In case you didn’t see this video, check out the gear he goes to the last 15m to win the relay for Zona.



I wish more meets published the 25 splits… most of them have pads at both ends… his last 25 there was insane


WOW. Thanks for posting that.

Wow. He seemed to just toy with the Cal anchor… crazy kind of confidence… I’m glad I picked him.


His split wasn’t that fast. I’m absolutely inconvinced he has a good 100. When he led-off the 4 x 100 free relay, the following day, he was something like 3rd. He also did not A-Final in the individual 100 Free at PAC 12’s.

that reminds me of the scene in animal house where that one guy keeps repeating “holy Sh**!” thats what the audience was thinking. so tandy is the real deal? on a level of morizov, cielo, adrian, target, bosquet? like one of the legedary sprinters of the past decade or so?


Maybe.. Maybe not.. We will have to see his LCM results…

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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