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

2016 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

500 FREESTYLE

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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Marmot
5 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
5 years ago

agreed, the best male NCAA swim ever.

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

WolfPack
5 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.

SuperSuitOrNo
Reply to  WolfPack
5 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
5 years ago

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

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  WolfPack
5 years ago

Lol, No one will close on Clark.

Back2Back
Reply to  WolfPack
5 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.

R&R
5 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).

Steve
5 years ago

But Texas does this every year. They toy with the rest of the NCAA by putting up crazy fast times in December, only be just around those times, rarely better come champs. There is something to be said for swimming fast at a winter invitational, but a head coaches job is to score as many points at the NCAA championship meet, not at an invite. They scored enough to win last year, and I think they will do the same this year, with less personal bests. Great example is how Haas will do at NCAA’s.

We will see what happens, but I think the Texas studs (Schooling, conger, smith, haas, licon) will all be around best times, but not lifetime… Read more »

mr sandals
Reply to  Steve
5 years ago

Haas will go 4:10 or better at NCAA’s. You heard it here.

Chris
Reply to  mr sandals
5 years ago

I think so too. Haas had great times last summer and has been looking good all year.

Kristaps Porzingis
Reply to  Steve
5 years ago

I am not sure what times you are looking at. Texas along with Cal are the two teams that always score significantly more points than what they are seeded to score on the psych sheet because of their time drops at NCAAs. The psych sheets use their best time from whatever meet they swam it in during the season. Texas and Cal in recent years have had the best percentage of personal bests at NCAAs.

R&R
Reply to  Steve
5 years ago

I don’t think you read what I wrote, nor have any idea what happened the last two years at NCAA’s. I guess I’ll repeat myself – Jon Roberts and Sam Lewis were both finalists last year, both dropped big times to make finals. They enter this year more or less the same (arguably less rested this year), and they are both threats to final again. They aren’t locks by any means, but I wouldn’t be surprised by around 4:12’s for them, like last year at NCAAs. They are solidly in the group that may or may not final depending on the day and swim.

Kristaps Porzingis
Reply to  R&R
5 years ago

My response was to “Steve” who said Texas goes faster at their mid season invite than they do at NCAAs

R&R
Reply to  Kristaps Porzingis
5 years ago

yep, yep, me too. we agree. The comment thread design isn’t very clear.

Steve
Reply to  Steve
5 years ago

You all should have listened. Clark Smith goes 4:17.17 in prelims, way off his best. The first of many…..

Plain Jane
5 years ago

It will be interesting seeing what Clark Smith does this year. His freshman year he didn’t qualify for NCAAs. The next year he won the 500. This year he has gone one of the fastest times ever in the 500 in December. Then he obliterated the 1000 US open record. Steady improvement. I am expecting to look at my results on the computer and not be able to believe the number next to his name in either the 1650 or the 500. I think he will put on the fastest performances ever in both events.

Shane Warne
5 years ago

No mention of Matthew Hutchins? He was second behind only Smith at the invite and hasn’t swum under a full taper or shaved all season. His Big10 swims were disappointing but coach Hite made it clear that he wasn’t close to fully rested. He’ll go 4:11 or less here, book it.

Lauren Neidigh
Reply to  Shane Warne
5 years ago

Shane- I considered putting Hutchins in as the dark horse, but his best is a 4:14. I have no doubt he is capable of a 4:11, but chose Ipsen as the darkhorse because his current best is faster and he placed 10th last season. Hutchins was also in that consol, but so can’t include every competitor in the preview.

Co coach
5 years ago

Why do I say 4:06.9. Seeing him swim and practice in years past I don’t think that is out of his possibilities. He has always surprised people

korn
5 years ago

If Clark doesn’t win, hope he doesn’t act like a baby and not show up for the podium like he did last summer….that was classless!

Just Keep Swimmin'
Reply to  korn
5 years ago

No it was puking.

Back2Back
Reply to  korn
5 years ago

I’d rather he not be on the podium puking… just sayin’. Clark’s a classy guy!

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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