2016 M. NCAA Picks: Clark Smith Targeting PVK’s 500 Free Records



Texas junior Clark Smith will return to the 500 freestyle as the defending NCAA champion. Smith, who won the event in 4:09.72, is the heavy favorite to win the 500 again this year. He’s already been faster than that this season, posting a 4:08.82 at Texas Invite. That swim put him within tenths of Peter Vanderkaay‘s NCAA Record of 4:08.60 and American Record of 4:08.54. Smith will get a shot at those records again on Thursday night.

Smith will be up against Reed Malone, who placed 3rd in last year’s NCAA meet. Malone enters the meet with a 4:11.80, faster than his 4:11.9 from 2015 NCAAs. His lifetime best is a 4:11.30, and that gives him a great shot at another top 3 finish.

Behind Malone, Townley Haas, Akaram Mahmoud, and Anders Nielsen have the 3rd through 5th seeds headed into the meet. All 3 of these men are entered with 4:12s. Haas, a freshman at Texas, posted a 4:12.63 at Big 12s for a lifetime best and 3rd seed. Nielsen, who was 4th in this event last year, enters with a season best 4:12.83 from Big Tens. Mahmoud’s 4:12.78 entry time is from prelims of SECs. The battle between these 3 could get very interesting.

The Florida Gators have a pair of swimmers who also make a case as top 5 threats. Pawel Werner enters the meet as the 6th seed with a 4:13.31. Werner won SECs with that time, working a killer back half to get to the wall first. Look out for him through the last 200. His teammate, Mitch D’Arrigo, is entered as 8th seed with a 4:13.92. D’Arrigo was 6th in this event last season, but his best time of 4:10.77 makes him a serious contender. If he can match that, he may be in the top 3.

Georgia’s Matias Koski has the potential to be a factor in the finals of this race. Koski’s best time is a 4:11.83 from last season’s NCAAs, where he placed 9th. In order to be a big player in this even’t, he’ll have to swim fast in prelims. Last season, he didn’t make the top 8 in the 500 at SECs, but swam a time in consols that would’ve placed him 2nd overall in the final. His 4:11.83 in consols at NCAAs would’ve landed him 3rd overall in the final. If Koski steps it up in prelims, and makes it into the top 8, he should have a good shot at a top 5 finish.

Stanford sophomore Liam Egan also has a chance to final in this event. Egan comes into this meet as the 7th seed. Egan finished 2nd at Pac-12s this season behind Malone, clocking a lifetime best 4:13.67. If he can hold that time in NCAA prelims or improve on it, he may reach All-American status in this event.

Top 8 Predictions:

Place Swimmer Seed Time Best Time
1 Clark Smith 4:08.82 4:08.82
2 Reed Malone 4:11.80 4:11.30
3 Townley Haas 4:12.63 4:12.63
4 Mitch D’Arrigo 4:13.92 4:10.77
5 Anders Nielsen 4:12.83 4:12.16
6 Akaram Mahmoud 4:12.78 4:12.78
7 Pawel Werner 4:13.31 4:13.31
8 Matias Koski 4:15.74 4:11.83

Darkhorse: NC State’s Anton Ipsen enters the meet as 10th seed with a 4:14.53. He was 10th last season in a personal best 4:13.58 to score for the Wolfpack in this event. He’ll be looking to move up into the top 8 this time around. 

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4 years ago

It’s unreal that Tom Dolan would have beat him with his 4:08.75 from ’95. It’s a shame that the younger generation knows almost nothing about that swim. Dolan took it out in 47.07 in a Speedo, sans cap.

samuel huntington
Reply to  Marmot
4 years ago

agreed, the best male NCAA swim ever.

and for females, Natalie’s back to back 100 fly/back

4 years ago

I agreed with the article pick out NC States Anton Ipson as the dark horse. The guy is and un real training machine and if he’s is any close to the field in the closing stages of the second half and the race he can become an seriously continder to win it.

Reply to  WolfPack
4 years ago

So he will drop a minimum of 5 seconds to win just because he is a racer? I doubt that. This race is Clark Smith’s to lose. Ipsen is not NCAA record material

samuel huntington
Reply to  WolfPack
4 years ago

Ipsen is not a serious contender to win it. unless he plans on dropping 5 seconds which won’t happen.

Reply to  WolfPack
4 years ago

Lol, No one will close on Clark.

Reply to  WolfPack
4 years ago

There goes Wolfpack again – thinking Ipson will ‘out touch’ Smith at the end… I’m surprised he hasn’t started picking the NCState divers over Texas divers. There will be no ‘continder’s to Clark in this race.

4 years ago

Texas’s two other finalists from last year are back… and haven’t fully tapered this year, which cannot be said for much of the above list! (Sam Lewis and Jon Roberts).

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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