The men’s NCAA Championships kick off this morning in Austin, Texas, and if the women’s meet was any indication, we’re in for a show over the next three days. This morning’s lineup includes five swimming events, two of them relays.
Connor Jaeger will look to defend his 500 freestyle title from a year ago, while his Wolverine teammate Kyle Whitaker leads in an extremely talented 200 IM field where four men have already been 1:41s, including defending champ David Nolan of Stanford. Plus, new Arizona Wildcat Brad Tandy will look to hold off a tough stable of sprinters breathing down his neck, highlighted by Auburn star Marcelo Chierighini, in the 50 free.
The session will open with the 200 free relay (where Chierighini and Auburn hope to repeat) and close with the 400 medley relay, where Arizona seems like a versatile steamroller with a shot at NCAA and U.S. Open records.
Prelims begin at 11 AM Central Time; keep refreshing this page for event-by-event recaps of the prelims action.
Men’s NCAA Championships
- Live results
- Day 1 prelims live stream
- Find all our pre-meet analysis and event-by-event picks on our Men’s NCAA Channel here
- Check out our final power rankings and top 26 predictions here
- All other pertinent links available here
200 Free Relay
There were some tense moments opening up the meet, as several of the 200 free relay heats hung as unofficial results while officials checked replays to confirm or overturn disqualifications. A couple of big-name teams got stung by the DQ bug early – second-seeded NC State put up the field’s second-fastest time but was DQ’d, and Florida State and Virginia fell along with them.
Swimming in front of a loud home crowd, the men of Texas grabbed the top seed in 1:15.95, the only team to break 1:16. As predicted, Texas was significantly faster than they were at Big 12s. Matt Ellis led off in 19.14. John Murray had the fastest split at 18.6, and Kip Darmody and Caleb Weir were 18.9 and 19.1, respectively.
Another team with a big drop was Cal, which sits second. Tony Cox (18.7) and Seth Stubblefield (18.5, the field’s fastest split) were both sub-19. Tyler Messerschmidt led off in 19.4, which is the leg that will likely have to improve for Cal to contend tonight, and Shayne Fleming was 19.3, though his relay exchange of .32 leaves some wiggle room for tonight. The Golden Bears went 1:16.11.
Top-seeded Auburn cruised to third in 1:16.38 with fairly safe exchanges. Marcelo Chierighini was 19.25 leading off and freshman Kyle Darmody went 18.6.
Florida and Arizona each got big leadoff swims, with Brad deBorde going 19.05 for the Gators and Brad Tandy 19.06 for the Wildcats. Florida was 1:16.52 for fifth with Arizona just behind in 1:16.80. Those two put up the second- and third-fastest leadoff legs – Minnesota’s Derek Toomey went 18.95 for the 9th-place Golden Gophers.
The rest of the A final will be UNLV (getting a 19.18 leadoff leg from star sophomore Dillon Virva), Texas A&M and Michigan. A&M saw just a 19.7 from Kyle Troskot; you’d imagine he’s got a better leadoff split in him for tonight. Michigan was consistent if not spectacular – their fastest split was Pete Brumm‘s 19.2 but the slowest split was 19.4, which is also what Bruno Ortiz led off with.
Minnesota leads the B heat with Toomey and a trio of freshmen. Other big names in that heat will be Stanford (David Nolan went 18.66), and third-seeded Alabama, who dropped off a ways from their seed time, gaining 1.4 seconds.
It’s worth noting that on that disqualified NC State relay, junior David Williams was 18.61 with a legal exchange – that’s the second-fastest split of the field. The Wolfpack had a rough event, though, as two of their swimmers had exchanges listed below 0.00: Andreas Schiellerup was -.10, but the DQ is actually listed as being called on Jonathan Boffa, who was -.01 on the second leg.
2013 champion Connor Jaeger of Michigan rolled to the top seed in beginning the defense of his title. Jaeger won a tight prelims battle with Florida’s Mitch D’Arrigo to win his circle seeded heat in 4:12.37. D’Arrigo took home the second seed from that same heat, going 4:12.68.
USC junior Cristian Quintero is the third seed, going 4:13.03 – that’s about a half-second faster than he was in taking third last year, but still a half-second off his seed time from earlier this season. Florida’s second championship finalist will be Dan Wallace, the top seed coming in who cruised his way to a 4:13.51.
Michigan also got a second man into the top heat with Denmark’s Anders Nielsen. Nielsen went 4:13.89 and already looks to be faster than he was at the Big Ten Championships.
Georgia’s Mathias Koski is sixth with a 4:13.99 and probably has room to drop some time tonight. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Navy’s Thomas Duvall, who cut almost two seconds to jump into the A final with a lifetime-best 4:14.04.
The final championship heat spot went to Texas freshman star Jack Conger in 4:14.06 – he just beat out his teammate Sam Lewis by .03 for the chance to swim in his first NCAA “A” final.
Cal only got one swimmer into scoring position in this event, and that was Jeremy Bagshaw who sits 10th. Pac-12 rivals Stanford seem to be swimming well, but even solid drops from Drew Cosgarea and Danny Thompson (both 4:17s) weren’t enough to make the top 16 and put points on the board.
We knew this meet was going to be fast, but this 200 IM was ridiculous. Last year’s top overall time coming out of prelims was Marcin Cieslak’s 1:42.52. In 2014, that time wouldn’t even make the top 8. Luckily for Cieslak, he’s improved too. The Florida senior is still the top seed, 1:41.15, which is actually faster than the winning time from 2013.
Michigan’s Kyle Whitaker, who put up the nation’s top time at the Big Ten Championships, sits second in 1:41.43, just a few tenths off his seed. Georgia’s Chase Kalisz became the next man to crack 1:42 on the season (there have now been 7 to do it), taking the third seed in 1:41.71.
Michigan also got Dylan Bosch into the final with a 1:41.82. Cal, who looks like one of the front-runners to compete with Michigan for the team title, also put two men up, although both are lower seeds than Whitaker and Bosch. Josh Prenot went 1:41.89 for the 5-seed, and freshman Ryan Murphy popped off a huge 1:42.24 from the early heats and held on for 8th. That’s got to make Cal fans excited for what Murphy’s got in store for his primary backstroking events coming up the next two days.
Defending champ David Nolan of Stanford is sixth at 1:42.06, and he should definitely be faster at night. Georgia breaststroking star Nic Fink is seventh, just a tick ahead of Murphy.
Indiana senior Cody Miller just missed the A final in what’s got to be a disappointing start to the NCAA meet for the Hoosier. Miller was third last year and seemed to cruise through Big Tens this year a bit more in an effort to improve his NCAA performances. Miller went 1:42.27, missing the championship heat by .03.
Joining Miller in that heat are a couple of Cal Bears (Marcin Tarczynski at 1:42.72 and Will Hamilton at 1:42.84) as well as Texas freshman Will Licon who had a huge swim, dropping close to three seconds off his lifetime-best to tie for 12th.
In a blow to Florida, Sebastien Rousseau missed both scoring heats, falling from the 6th seed to 21st place while gaining two seconds.
Three men got under 19 in the individual 50, and combined with the one who did it leading off the 200 free relay, that means the number of 18-second 50 guys in the NCAA has already doubled from a year ago. Florida leads its second-straight event as senior Brad deBorde put up an 18.86 to lead the field by a tenth. That’s a drop of a couple hundredths for deBorde, who won SECs while inspiring some mixed reports about his shaved or unshaved status.
Top seed Brad Tandy of Arizona is the second seed in 18.96, but look for him to match his Pac-12 championship time of 18.80 at the final tonight.
Cal’s Seth Stubblefield was the third man under 19, going 18.97 to crack the barrier for the first time in his career and take third. That’s a drop of .35 from Stubblefield’s lifetime-best, another piece of evidence suggesting Cal has shown up ready to explode on day 1.
Alabama freshman Kristian Gkolomeev found some more speed after spearheading the Crimson Tide’s huge SEC surge this season. He went 19.05, dropping almost two tenths from his seed and sits fourth.
Texas was the only team to get a pair of men into this A final. John Murray is fifth in 19.07 and fellow sophomore Matt Ellis went 19.11 to sneak into 8th place by a hair.
Florida State’s Paul Murray is sixth in 19.08 – keep an eye on him as he will be fully fresh for this race tonight after Florida State’s 200 free relay was DQ’d in prelims.
7th went to Minnesota’s Derek Toomey, who fell off a bit after going 18.95 leading off the 200 free relay. He put up a 19.10 to squeak into the A final, but should be a factor tonight based on his relay split and his 3rd-place finish in this race a year ago.
Surprisingly, last year’s runner-up Marcelo Chierighini missed the A final, slipping to 11th in 19.21. Cal continues to pile up finals swims, putting a pair of men in the B heat, 9th-place Tyler Messerschmidt (19.16) and 12th place Tony Cox (19.24). Also in that heat are UNLV star Dillon Virva and Louisville’s Joao de Lucca.
400 Medley Relay
The big story of the relay events so far has been costly DQs. The 400 medley relay might be the biggest of all. Arizona, the top seed, defending champs and prohibitive favorites were disqualified for a false start on breaststroke star Kevin Cordes. They were one of 6 relays to false start in this event, but Arizona’s all-star lineup looked like it had a shot at U.S. Open and NCAA records in the event with the addition of Tandy as an anchor. Even without Tandy swimming in prelims, that relay would have been 5th going into tonight.
With Zona out of the picture, the top team is Florida, the third straight event where the Gators claimed the #1 seed. Brad deBorde continued to come up big, splitting 41.65 on freestyle in his third swim of the morning. The Gators also got a 44.6 from Marcin Cieslak on fly to go 3:05.47.
Texas, also swimming well as a group this morning, is nipping at their heels with a 3:05.54. Kip Darmody led off in 45.70 and Tripp Cooper was 44.9 on butterfly. Their relay sits second without using Jack Conger, who might be able to improve either of those legs.
Georgia went 3:05.58 and sit just behind Texas. Nic Fink was 51.9 on breaststroke which is fast, but he can definitely drop some time off of that tonight considering he’s been 51.25 in the open 100. Freshman Taylor Dale was 45.73 leading off for the Bulldogs, and distance-man Mathias Koski anchored in 42.59.
USC was the last crew to go 3:05 – Dimitri Colupaev anchored in 41.70 to push the Trojans to the 4-seed.
Another team with a 3:05-seed got DQ’d in Auburn – a false start by butterflyer Arthur Mendes negated a 41.3 anchor leg for Marcelo Chierighini and wiped big points off the board for a big-time SEC team. This turned out to be a rough event for DQs as no less than 6 teams got called for false starts. In addition to Arizona and Auburn, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, UNC and Virginia were all disqualified. That’s the second-straight relay DQ for Virginia, which also jumped on the 200 free relay. Big ouch for the Cavaliers.
Cal is the fifth seed – Chuck Katis blew up with a quick 51.1 split that suggests he might be ready for a breakout 100 breast tomorrow. The Bears didn’t even use Ryan Murphy here, as Jacob Pebley went 46.4 on backstroke.
Michigan followed in 3:06.58, getting a 51.23 on breaststroke from Richard Funk and a 42.2 anchor leg from Bruno Ortiz. They’ll have to play catchup tonight, though, as John Wojciechowski was just 47.34 on backstroke.
Rounding out the A heat will be Florida State and Alabama. The Seminoles went 3:07.02, well off their time from ACCs, but still got a 45.75 from Pavel Sankovich on backstroke. Alabama’s BJ Hornikel anchored in 42.2.
Ohio State and Louisville head up the B final at 3:07.47 and 3:07.48. Joao de Lucca split 41.4 on the end of Louisville’s team.
The morning will continue with the 1-meter diving prelims, with consols taking place immediately after the preliminary rounds. The top 8 will dive in the final tonight. Swimming picks back up at 7 PM Central from the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin.