2015 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
- NCAA record: 1:48.66 — Kevin Cordes (Arizona) — 3/30/2014
- American record: 1:48.66 — Kevin Cordes (Arizona) — 3/30/2014
- U.S. Open record: 1:48.66 — Kevin Cordes (Arizona) — 3/30/2014
- 2014 NCAA Champion: Kevin Cordes (Arizona) — 1:48.66
Kevin Cordes has been the king of breaststroke in the NCAA for some time now spanning two NCAA titles and two PAC 12 titles in the 200 breaststroke. He’s downed records, owned the 100, and put up some of the fastest split times on both medley relays.
Cordes has the most experience and the most international experience to boot, but he has not performed up to par with his sophomore and junior years thus far this season.
He’s usually an obvious pick for the win in any of the breaststroke events, but truly hasn’t swam anything this season that indicates he’ll be fast at NCAAs. Granted, it’s his senior year, and there’s a big possibility he trained through PAC 12s where he was third in the 200 breaststroke, but regardless, the rest of the NCAA is catching up.
Going into the meet, the Arizona senior is ranked fifth in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:52.65 which he swam at the Texas Hall of Fame meet. This season, he may be the favorite based solely on past results, but there are a lot more swimmers that he’ll have to contend with if he wants to defend his title.
Will Licon from Texas has been had some outstanding performances this season and by the way he’s been swimming it would come as maybe only a mild shock if he dethroned Cordes in Iowa. Licon is ranked third in the nation in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:51.77 from the BIG 12 Championships. He’s dominated the individual medleys all season and has thrown down some wickedly fast breaststroke splits in the process. Licon has momentum this season and it looks as though there’s not much anyone can do to stop it. Cordes will need to be on his ‘A’ game to take down Licon.
Licon is seeded second behind top seed Nicolas Fink of Georgia. Fink knows all to well what it’s like to finish second, being in the same class as Cordes, and is finally going into the meet as the top ranked breaststroker in the NCAA. Fink was a 1:51.58 at the SEC Championships earlier this season. He’s the second fastest overall in the United States behind pro Cody Miller at the moment, but will have to hold off both Licon and Cordes if he wants a chance at winning.
That time was a personal best for Fink which means that he’s on the right track, although it’s worrisome because Cordes has been almost three full seconds faster. If Fink wants a chance at an NCAA title he’s going to need to drop a lot of time and get into the 1:50 range or even under 1:50. It’s not an easy task, especially with Licon and Cordes hungrily on his heels.
Josh Prenot is California’s best chance at a medal in the 200 breaststroke, but most likely will sit in about the fourth position. He’s going into the meet seeded fourth overall ahead of Cordes, but with a 1:52.61 it’s a big stretch to say he’ll finish in the top three. Steven Stumph of USC is ranked ahead of him with a 1:52.50 after a huge time drop to make that swim. Prenot is a fantastic individual medley swimmer and the 1:52.61 he swam at PAC 12s acts as his personal best time. He should be ahead of Stumph based primarily on the fact that he’s had more NCAA success and is by pure definition a racer.
Sixth seed Sam Tierney from Missouri could also finish ahead of Stumph. He was eighth last season in the 200 breaststroke and will have no problem making a championship final. He’s fast, and with the 1:52.67 seed time that he has, he’s not far off anything Stumph has thrown down. Tierney has consistency on his side
Anton McKee and Nils Wich-Glasen are two swimmers who you can’t count out as well. McKee was fourth last year as a freshman at NCAAs in the 200 breaststroke and can likely go top five again this year if all goes accordingly. He was a 1:52.31 last year at NCAAs, and goes in as the eighth seed this year with a 1:52.92. from SECs. He’s a bit of a wildcard. If he can drop some time, a top four or five finish is by no means out of reach. Glasen is seeded ahead of him with a 1:52.81.
Thomas Dahlia of Louisville is the 10th seed, but has plenty of experience in the breaststroke events. He’s an NCAA ‘B’ finalist from 2014, and if he has a really good prelim swim could potentially crack the top eight this year. He’s going in with a 1:53.51 seed which is just over half-a-second outside of the top eight range.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
|Kevin Cordes||Arizona||5th – 1:52.65||1:48.66 AR|
|Will Licon||Texas||2nd – 1:51.77||1:51.77|
|Nicolas Fink||Georgia||1st – 1:51.58||1:51.58|
|Josh Prenot||Cal||4th – 1:52.61||1:52.61|
|Anton McKee||Alabama||8th – 1:52.92||1:51.59|
|Sam Tierney||Missouri||6th – 1:52.67||1:52.67|
|Richard Funk||Michigan||13th – 1:54.05||1:52.72|
|Steven Stumph||USC||3rd – 1:52.50||152.5|
Dark Horse: Chuck Katis (California) 16th seed – 1:54.30 – Going into his senior year Chuck Katis has a ton of potential to score in breaststroke. He’s been fairly solid this year in the 100, going a 52.00 and taking the 6th seed in that event. He’s no doubt one of the top breaststrokers, and when the Cal taper hits he may be able to make some waves.