NCAA Record: Ryan Lochte, Florida, 44.60
American Record: Nick Thoman, SwimMac 44.07
U.S. Open Record: Nick Thoman, SwimMac 44.07
Championship Record: Ryan Lochte, Florida 44.60
Up through the Pac-12 Championships, Cal sophomore Ryan Murphy held the nation’s top time in the 100 backstroke. The defending NCAA 100 backstroke champion, Murphy left much of the rest of the field in his dust. He dominated the event most of the season, and defended his title at the Pac-12 meet.
Ralf Tribuntsov has emerged to challenge the Golden Bear, however. The Southern California freshman posted a 44.95 in the prelims to take the top seed at the Pac-12 championships as well as the top time in the nation, before taking second to Murphy in the finals with a 45.27. Murphy swam a 44.98, good for the nation’s second fastest time.
The top four times from the Pac-12 meet represent the top four times on the NCAA championship psych sheet, but outside of the top two, the times start to drop off.
Stanford’s David Nolan and USC’s Luca Spinazzola are seeded third and fourth, respectively. Nolan will ride the momentum from his American record performance in the 200 IM into this event. He finished fourth at last year’s championships, and will have all eyes towards the podium this time around. Spinazzola, a senior who finished sixth last season, enters just .03 hundredths behind him. Nolan is seeded with a 45.37, Spinazzola a 45.40.
The remainder of the top eight swimmers on the heat sheet do not represent the traditional power teams (Stanford, Cal, Texas, Auburn, etc.). Alabama’s breakout sophomore Connor Oslin sits just .05 hundredths behind the Pac-12 contingent. Oslin was crowned the SEC champion earlier this season with a 45.45, beating a the next best SEC 100 backstroker, Jack Blyzinskyj, a Florida sophomore, by almost a half second.
Jake Taylor of BYU enters as the fifth seed this weekend and is the only individual swimmer from BYU at these championships. Taylor was named the male swimmer of the meet at the MPSF championships, and set the BYU school and MPSF championship record in the 100 backstroke at those championships with a 45.53.
A hundredth of a second behind him is Shane Ryan of Penn State with a 45.54. As a sophomore Ryan finished runner up to Murphy at the championships, meaning he should not be looked over for a podium finish. Ryan and his teammate, senior Nate Savoy took the top two podium spots at the Big Ten Championship meet as well. Savoy is seeded 13th with a 46.02 and took tenth at last seasons championships
Rounding out the top eight is Iowa senior Grant Betulius. Betulius held the number two spot in the country for much of the season with his 45.56, but did not have a strong conference meet fading to seventh at the championships . However, the home crowd and home pool advantage should help Betulius this weekend.
Lurking outside of the top eight is Jack Conger in ninth. The Texas superstar is seeded at 45.68 but won the 100 back at the Big 12 Championships by a half second. Conger is riding a huge wave of momentum should carry him to a top eight finish. Kip Darmody, a returning A finalist for the Longhorns, is seed 13th with a 46.14. Darmody finished third last season with a 45.21.
Top eight predictions with seed times:
Ryan Murphy 44.98
David Nolan 45.37
Jack Conger 45.68
Shane Ryan 45.54
Ralf Tribuntsov 44.95
Kip Darmody 46.14
Luca Spinazzola 45.40
Connor Oslin 45.45
Dark Horse: Joe Patching, Auburn, the Tiger sophomore finished 22nd a season ago with his 46.53, but has been as fast as 46.08 so far this season. Patching has a lot of ground to make up on the rest of the field, and will look to improve on his fourth place finish from SEC’s, but it isn’t out of the question for Patching to make the A final