2015 NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS
- NCAA record: 44.18 — Austin Staab (Stanford) — 3/27/2009
- American record: 44.18 — Austin Staab (Stanford) — 3/27/2009
- U.S. Open record: 44.18 — Austin Staab (Stanford) — 3/27/2009
- 2014 NCAA Champion: Marcin Cieslak, Florida (44.87)
Four seniors took the top four spots last year, while Texas Longhorns Tripp Cooper, Jack Conger, and Will Glass took 5th through 7th. Coming in with the top two seeds are Conger (44.78) and Longhorn freshman Joseph Schooling (44.81), while Cooper (45.79) and Glass (45.96) are back at 5th and 12th, respectively.
Conger has had quite the year. He came to Texas with huge expectations after being so heavily recruited in high school, though he didn’t have the spectacular freshman season to live up to the hype. Nevertheless, he has proved his worth this year, highlighted by a new American record in the 200 butterfly in a Big 12 Championships time trial as well as dropping a 51.64 in the 100 meter butterfly at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin. IN JANUARY. It’s never easy to predict (it’s usually a guess) how tapered and shaved a swimmer is, but not only is that 51.64 an incredibly fast time on its own, it was done in January, in the thick of the NCAA season, after mid-season invites.
The Bolles’ swim program is one of the best in the nation, and Schooling was a part of multiple relays which broke national marks, two of which still stand (200 and 400 free relays). He is the fastest 100 butterflier, public or private, at the American high school level, to date. This year, he comes into the meet just three hundredths behind Conger, and both go into the meets with their seed times being their life time best times.
Another freshman set to make things interesting is Schooling’s former Bolles teammate Caeleb Dressel (Florida), who is primarily a sprint freestyler. Dressel broke 19 seconds with a flat start in high school, which was one of many big swims that made him a coveted recruit. He won the SEC Championships with a time of 45.28, which was a personal best. While Dressel’s bigger races may lie in the 50 and 100 freestyle, where he is the 2nd seed behind Kristian Gkolomeev (Alabama), he is flirting with the 45 second barrier. Tom Shields‘ 17-18 NAG record sits at 44.91, and Dressel doesn’t turn 19 until August.
After Conger, Schooling, and Dressel, the fourth seed (Matt McHugh, OSU) and the 12th seed (Glass, Texas) are separated by just 21 hundredths. That’s a lot of talent bunched up. Of these nine swimmers, only four have ever made finals in this event: Cooper, Glass, Sam Lewis (UNC), and Seth Stubblefield (Cal). Lewis and Stubblefield are ranked 11th and 6th, respectively.
Two of the nine are USC Trojans, sophomore Santo Condorelli and freshman Ralf Tribuntsov. Condorelli has had a great season, capped off by 2nd place finishes in the 50 and 100 free as well as the 100 fly at the Pac 12 Championships. Tribuntsov, who didn’t make much noise during the regular season, beat David Nolan in the 100 back, and placed 3rd in the 100 fly and 5th in the 100 free at Pac 12s. Getting both of them into the A final would be huge for the Trojans, who are looking to possibly challenge Cal and Texas in the top 3.
Two juniors sit at 45.92– Pedro Coutinho (Louisville) and Arthur Mendes (Auburn). Mendes just missed the B final last year with a 46.42 in prelims, while Coutinho was back at 28th (47.05). Both come back seeded at least three tenths faster than their seed times last year. Mendes was a 46.24 while Coutinho was a 46.58. These two have NCAA experience and will be looking to score as the top butterfliers on their respective teams.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS
Dark Horse: Matt Ellis (Texas). The Longhorn butterfly group is no joke, and Ellis was tied for 13th last year. He threw down a 51.73 in the long course pool at U.S. Nationals, and if he can make that magic happen again at NCAAs, the top 8 should be no problem for him.