2015 NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
- NCAA record: 40.76 — Vlad Morozov (USC) – 03/30/2013
- American record: 41.08— Nathan Adrian — 03/38/2009
- U.S. Open record: 40.76 – Vlad Morozov (USC) – 03/30/2013
- 2014 NCAA Champion: 41.70 – Joao De Lucca (Louisville)
Three of last year’s NCAA finalists in the men’s 100 freestyle have graduated, rendering an already-faster- than-the-speed of light event a prime target for several up and comers ready to take over the reigns. Veterans are still in the mix as well, making this one of the most highly anticipated contests of the meet.
Last year’s winner, Joao De Lucca was able to pull out the 100 free win in a time 41.70 and only Alabama sophomore, Kristian Gkolomeev has gone faster thus far this season. Gkolomeev dipped under the 42.0 threshold for the first time in his collegiate career at the 2015 SEC Championships in a title-winning effort of 41.68. Prior that impressive feat, Gkolomeev’s fastest time was the 42.47 he registered at last year’s NCAAs in prelims and he would go on to finish 13th overall at the 2014 edition of the meet (42.59). Gkolomeev is also a force to be reckoned with on the relay front, as his killer 100 speed on his SEC-title-winning 400 medley squad instilled fear in medley relay anchors everywhere, closing Alabama’s relay in a searing 41.33.
Gkolomeev has a tough stud on his hands, though, in the form of Florida sprint star, Caeleb Dressel. Dressel finished runner-up to Gkolomeev in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events at SECs and succeeded in lowering his own NAG 100 free record twice in the process. Dressel sits as the number two seed in the men’s 100, and one of only three swimmers to have an entry time beneath 42.0 Having already gone head-to-head with Gkolomeev on several occasions, Dressel should have a slight advantage over the rest of the field, having firsthand insight into how the Alabama swimmer may strategize his race.
NC State junior Simonas Bilis has absolutely been on fire as of late, contributing big-time to his team’s overall 2015 ACC title. Bilis showed nasty speed throwing down a 41.94 while winning the conference title, re-writing the ACC championship meet record and conference record. Bilis also recorded a swift 42.19 as leadoff of the Wolfpack’s 400 freestyle relay; a time that would have earned Bilis 4th place in last year’s individual 100 A-Final. There are no signs of Bilis slowing down however, as the Wolfpack have certainly established themselves as a solid, game-changing sprint force.
A stellar senior racing veteran, however, is ready to make his move in this, his final NCAA Championships. USC’s Cristian Quintero was last year’s 3rd place finisher in the event with a time of 42.14 and is situated right around that time going into 2015’s edition of the meet (42.21). Quintero has already started off championships season with a tri-fecta of wins at the Pac-12 Championships in the 100, 200 and 500 yard freestyles. The freestyle specialist simply is just so good across multiple distances, that one never knows when he is going to strike and strike hard.
USC’s Santo Condorelli is also looking to make his mark this year and sits in the 5th seeded position with a solid 42.27, the time he clocked as runner-up behind teammate Quintero at Pac-12s. Considering Condorelli’s fastest time in the 100 free from the 2013 season was a 43.35, he has already made giant strides with where he is coming in comparatively to this year’s meet. Condorelli is also a viable threat as part of his team’s 400 free relay, where he cranked out the Pac-12 meet’s fastest split of 41.92. All Condorelli has to do is continue on his time-drop trajectory to put himself right in the middle of the action as a strong contender in this event.
The team battle between Texas and Cal gets highlighted in this event by a showdown between returning A finalists John Murray of the Longhorns and Seth Stubblefield of the Golden Bears. They both come in with seeds outside the top 10, but expect both to move up this week.
Also returning from the A final last year is Auburn’s Kyle Darmody. He was the fastest freshman in the nation in the event last year, and an added season of experience should make him a factor in 2015 as well.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
Dark Horse: Ralf Tribuntsov of USC; Tribuntsov just had a monster meet at this year’s Pac-12, where the freshman finished 3rd in the 100 butterfly, 2nd in the 100 back (meet record in prelims) and found himself in a three-way tie in prelims of the 100 freestyle with a time of 42.66. Tribuntsov would go on to earn 5th overall in the 100 free A-Final, but he certainly made a statement that he his a multi-event athlete who can keep up with the big boy sprinters across several disciplines.