2015 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
- NCAA record: 1:31.20 — Simon Burnett (Arizona) — 3/24/2006
- American record: 1:31.31 — Ricky Berens (Texas) — 3/17/2013
- U.S. Open record: 1:31.20 — Simon Burnett (Arizona) — 3/24/2006
- 2014 NCAA Champion: Joao De Lucca (Louisville)— 1:31.96
The 200 freestyle opened up a little bit this season with swimmers such as Joao De Lucca, Michael Wynalda, and Frank Dyer graduating, giving Southern California senior Cristian Quintero an open run at an NCAA title.
Quintero is the favorite by a long-shot in this race. He’s been the only one of the current 200 freestyle entrants to lock horns with some of the big dogs like Lucca and Wynalda, and boasts both an impressive in-season time and personal best. His best time comes from last year’s NCAA champs where he finished second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:32.28.
At PAC 12s, Quintero was already very close to that mark sporting a 1:32.40 to claim his third straight PAC 12 title in the 200 freestyle. He also rocked a third straight PAC 12 title in the 500 free at PAC 12s. The time for Quintero broke his own PAC 12 record in the event, and marked his second best performance ever in the 200 freestyle.
His 1:32.40 is significantly faster than any of the other swimmers in the field. Mitch D’Arrigo of Florida is the second fastest 200 freestyle seed going into the meet, and he’s sitting at a 1:33.10. As a freshman last year, D’Arrigo was seventh in the 200 free at NCAAs and is truly on the come-up, already bettering his 2014 NCAAs final time by 0.87 seconds.
D’Arrigo is definitely on the fast track to improvement, but he’s still well out of the range of Quintero. Quintero’s been under 1:33 four times in his career, something no other swimmer in the NCAA can say at the current moment. D’Arrigo is certainly improving, but he’s not quite in the same range as Quintero just yet. D’Arrigo is also showing big improvements in the 500 and is a very solid bet for a second place finish.
Indiana freshman Blake Pieroni is another swimmer who could fight for a silver medal and definitely has the skill to be in the podium picture as the meet approaches. He’s tied with D’Arrigo as the second seed with a time of 1:33.10. He doesn’t have the NCAA experience these guys have but Pieroni does have pure speed. He was the 18&under national champion in the 100m freestyle this past summer, and plain and simple, Pieroni has speed.
Pieroni has swam 13 200 freestyles this season including three which were in the 1:33 range. He’s got the talent, but the question remains how fast he can go in short course yards with a proper taper. Pieroni could be deadly and up there with Quintero. He’s certainly in a good position to medal, but due to his status as a freshman he’s a bit of a wildcard.
Georgia’s Matias Koski is someone who could also do a whole lot of damage. Koski won an SEC title in the 200 freestyle this year, taking down D’Arrigo in the process. His time of 1:33.23 that he swam at SECs is the fastest he’s ever been in season which is a great sign heading towards Iowa. Koski could get on the podium and could pass both D’Arrigo and Pierroni. Right now he’s seeded fifth.
Ohio-State’s Josh Fleagle took the fourth seed ahead of Koski. He’s a 1:33.16 this season from B1Gs. Fleagle is a good prelim swimmer and can definitely earn himself a second swim this weekend in Iowa. In finals, though, he’ll have some stiff competition and our best guess is that he’ll finish somewhere in the back-half of the final.
Hugo Morris of Auburn, Anders Nielson of Michigan, and Dylan Carter of USC round out the top eight seeds. They’re all in a similar range, and will face a challenge of getting a second swim. There’s so much talent jam packed into the race with guys like Pawel Werner of Florida, Trevor Carroll of Louisville, and Reed Malone of USC that it’s going to be a dog fight to get a spot in finals.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
|Cristian Quintero||USC||1st – 1:32.40||1:32.28|
|Matias Koski||Georgia||5th – 1:33.23||1:32.66|
|Blake Pieroni||Indiana||3rd – 1:33.10||1:33.10|
|Mitch D’Arrigo||Florida||2nd – 1:33.10||1:33.10|
|Clay Youngquist||Texas||16th – 1:34.02||1:33.23|
|Dylan Carter||USC||8th – 1:33.55||1:33.55|
|Josh Fleagle||Ohio State||4th – 1:33.16||1:33.16|
|Reed Malone||USC||13th – 1:34.01||1:34.01|
Dark horse: Will Hamilton (California) – 85th seed – Hamilton is sitting way back as the 85th seed in this event with a time of 1:36.46. Hamilton has been very fast finishing 10th three years in a row at the NCAAs. When that magic Cal taper hits, Hamilton could definitely pull through and drop some 1:33s and regain his place as a top 10 200 freestyler.