2016 M. NCAA Picks: Plenty of Players for 200 Free Crown



  • NCAA record: 1:31.20 — Simon Burnett (Arizona) — 3/24/2006
  • American record: 1:31.31 — Ricky Berens (Texas) — 3/7/2013
  • U.S. Open record: 1:31.20 — Simon Burnett (Arizona) — 3/24/2006
  • 2015 NCAA Champion: Cristian Quintero (USC) 1:32.03

Going into NCAAs, Big Ten juggernauts Blake Pieroni (1:32.33) of Indiana and Anders Nielsen (1:32.36) of Michigan sit atop a very tight bunch in the 200 free.

This isn’t the first time those two have met, as Big Ten rivals that they are, they’ve had plenty of match-ups over the last two years. Last year at NCAAs, Nielsen got the upper hand, finishing 2nd to Pieroni’s 4th. They come in neck-and-neck this year, though, and they have plenty of company right on their heels.

Next up is a trio of NC State swimmers. Simonas Bilis (1:32.46), Soeren Dahl (1:32.88), and Ryan Held (1:32.97) round out the rest of the sub-1:33 club. The Wolfpack program has molded these sprinters into deadly 200 freestylers, a testament to the program and to the athletes’ ability to extend their ranges.

Lurking down at #7 is USC’s Reed Malone. He’s a strong candidate for the American 800 free relay come Rio, but first, he’ll fight for the NCAA crown. Malone’s 1:33.08 pales in comparison to the 1:31.94 split he did anchoring USC’s 800 free relay at Pac-12s. He’d have to go a best time to break the 1:33 barrier, but the 200 is his sweet spot between the 100 and 500 range, and he’s been battle tested in years past.

#6, Matias Koski, sits just a hundredth ahead of Malone. He’s a rare talent, in that he can keep up with most of the best pure sprinters in the country while at the same time holding his taper to perform well in the distance free events. Other big names in the top 10 include Texas’ Townley Haas and Clark Smith along with Cal’s Long Gutierrez. Haas is one of the Longhorns’ stud freshmen, while Smith looks to be a future star on the international stage with his competitive LCM 200 and 400 free times. Gutierrez will have to muscle through a 200 free/100 fly double on the third day of competition at NCAAs.


Anders Nielsen Michigan 2nd – 1:32.36 1:32.36
Clark Smith Texas 10th – 1:33.36 1:33.36
Blake Pieroni Indiana 1st – 1:32.33 1:32.33
Simonas Bilis NC State 3rd – 1:32.46 1:32.46
Ryan Held NC State 5th – 1:32.97 1:32.97
Soeren Dahl NC State 4th– 1:32.88 1:32.88
Matias Koski Georgia 6th — 1:33.07 1:32.66
Reed Malone USC 8th — 1:33.08 1:33.08

Dark Horse: #11 Trevor Carroll has risen over the last year to one of the best 50 thru 500 range freestylers in the country. The Louisville junior has been under 1:34 four different times this year, all of which rank as his top four times ever. He’s coming off of a strong ACC performance, and can challenge for a top 8 spot if he can carry that momentum through NCAAs. 

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I put my money on Reed Malone – he might well be present within Team Usa this summer

Swimmer A

Wow, you don’t even have Haas in the top 8. I honestly think he’ll contend for the title. He was a 1:48.35 at the Austin PSS, unrested. I think he’s gonna throw down at NCs

Derek Sancho Fisher

Agree 100%.

bobo gigi

Can’t believe the fastest time ever swum in that event is still held by Simon Burnett. Not the biggest name of all time.
He swam the race of his life that day!
MP has never been a great SCY swimmer and has probably never swum fully tapered in yards so not surprising to not see him hold that record.
But even guys like PVK, Berens or especially Lochte, a beast in yards, have been unable to break it.
Time for someone to swim 1.30!
When I saw Agnel train in USA 3 years ago, I thought he could break it. His time from November 2012 in SCM of 1.39.70 converts to 1.29.98 in SCY! But it didn’t happen as expected.


prior to Burnett the fastest flat start 200 was 1:33.3 – in 2006 that swim was ahead of it’s time:


I’m surprised it survived the 2009 super suit era.

Sean Justice

I believe that Biondi was 1:33.0 in the 80s.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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