2016 USA College Challenge: Day 1 Live Recap


USA Swimming’s inaugural College Challenge kicks off this afternoon, as a mixed squad of veterans and youngsters representing the USA National Team will face a collection of top notch swimmers from the Big Ten Conference.  You can watch the action live at the link above, but we’ll providing live updates throughout the afternoon, as well.

Women’s 400 Medley Relay

The USA All-Star “B” team got things started in a big way, setting a new American Record in this event.  Former Michigan swimmer Ali Deloof blasted a personal best of 50.59 to get things started.  Andee Cottrell kept up the lead over a field of breaststrokers than included held Olympic gold medalist Lilly King, before handing things over to Kelsi Worrell, who split 49.36, while Amanda Weir brought it home in 48.04 to set the new record.  The USA “A” team placed second in 3:29.52, followed by the Big Ten “A” squad in 3:29.65.

Men’s 400 Medley Relay

While the Big Ten team probably has more depth, the USA All-Stars have a solid lead after the first two events, as they finished 1-2 again in this relay.  There weren’t as many fireworks here, as the USA “B” team of of Jacob Pebley (46.03), Cody Miller (51.90), Tom Shields (44.50) and Dillon Virva (44.01) took first in 3:06.44, well off any records.  But, once again, the USA “A” swept the top two spots for big points, with its “A” team taking 2nd in (3:07.09), while the Big Ten “A” team took 3rd (3:07.93).

Women’s 400 IM

High school senior Brook Forde, who will be swimming for Stanford next year, beat out four current college students to win the 400 IM in 4:02.67. According to the USA Swimming database, that’s the fastest time in the country by almost seven seconds in the 2016-2017 season.  The Big Ten earned some points by placing 2nd-5th

Men’s 400 IM

Olympic trials finalist and Michigan freshman Charlie Swanson got out to a big lead by the halfway point, and never let up, securing the win in a 3:46.0.  That’s a personal best for him and the 2nd-fastest time in the country this year, behind only Olympic silver medalist Chase Kalisz‘s 3:41.  17 year-old Robert Finke just touched out Minnesota’s Jakob Muly to help earn some points back for the USA All-Stars.

After four events, USA is up 45 to 27 over the Big Ten.

Women’s 100 Free

Mallory Comerford, a Louisville sophomore, already had the fastest time in this event this season, but she knocked another half second off that mark to touch in 47.36, scoring nine points for the USA All-Star team.  Michigan’s Siobahn Haughey went 48.16, good enough for 2nd place and the 3rd-fastest mark of the season, behind Comerford and Simone Manuel.

Men’s 100 Free

Indiana’s Blake Pieroni, despite sporting a beard, won this race by over a second, in 42.40.  That gives him the fastest time in NCAA this season.  That mark had belonged to Big Ten teammate and Penn State swimmer Shane Ryan, who is here, but didn’t compete in this event.  Cameron Craig, an ASU swimmer representing the USA All-Stars, touched 2nd in 43.53, a new personal best for him.

Through six events, the USA All-Stars lead 65 to 45.

Women’s 200 Back

16 year-old Eva Merrell knocked five second off of her personal best to secure a win for the USA All-Stars in a time 1:52.20.  Indiana junior Kennedy Goss touched 2nd in 1:52.54, which gives her the fastest time in the NCAA this season.

Men’s 200 Back

Olympic finalist Jacob Pebley led wire-to-wire, finishing in a very solid time of 1:39.68, not too far off his personal best.  Former Tennesee star Sean Lehane made it a 1-2 finish for the national team, touching in 1:40.95.  Michigan’s Luke Papendick and Indiana’s Bob Glover both finished under 1:44, but the USA continued to widen its lead, which now stands at 92 to 56.

Women’s 200 Breast

The Big Ten got its first 1-2 finish here, as Lilly King held off Kierra Smith to win 2:05.64 to 2:05.83.  King had over a one second lead at the halfway point, and had enough left in the tank to hold off Smith.  That puts both swimmers roughly three seconds faster than anyone else in the country so far this season.   With Team USA taking spots 3-5, the Big Ten shaved eights points off the national team’s lead.

Men’s 200 Breast

This was one of the more exciting races of the afternoon, as three swimmers were within a few tenths of each other at the 100 yard mark.  Cody Miller surged ahead during the third 50, but Nic Fink ran him down in the final yards to take the win, 1:53.98 to 1:54.12, giving the USA All-Stars another 1-2 sweep.  Purdue’s Marat Amaltdinov kept it close for the first half, but faded a bit during the back half and touched 3rd in 1:55.56.

With ten events down, Team USA leads 111-75.

Women’s 100 Fly

Surprising no one, Kelsi Worrell, the fastest woman ever in this event, touched first this afternoon in 50.46 for Team USA.  Ohio State’s Zhesi Li placed 2nd in 51.42, a new personal best for her, and the fastest time this season among current NCAA swimmers.

Men’s 100 Fly

Olympic finalist Tom Shields had a reputation as a phenomenal short course swimmer during his college days at Cal, and despite being focused on long course these days, he was within a half second of his best time in this format, blasting a 45.00 to win by over a second.  Indiana’s Vini Lanza had the 2nd-fastest back half of the race behind Shields and touched 2nd in 46.23 to help out the Big Ten team.  Michael Andrew came back on Ohio State’s Matt McHugh and placed 3rd, 46.73 to 46.78.

Women’s 500 Free

Leah Smith, the two-time defending NCAA champion in this event, won this afternoon with what is now the fastest time in the country this season.  Her time of 4:32.52 would be an excellent time even in championship season, and is almost four seconds faster than Katie Ledecky went a few weeks ago for Stanford.  Ashley Twichell took 2nd in 4:38.01 to give the USA All-Stars another 1-2 finish, and Rose Bi of Michigan placed 3rd in 4:39.16.

Men’s 500 Free

Wisconsin’s Matthew Hutchins did his best to try to pick up one last individual win for the Big Ten team today, but Zane Grothe was able to hold off Hutchins in the final strokes to win 4:15.87 to 4:16.33.  Hutchins’s time is the fastest among current NCAA swimmers this season, taking that spot from Clark Smith’s 4:17.09 he swam last week.

Women’s 800 Free Relay

Today’s session continued even after the livestream ended, with the two longer freestyle relays.  The USA All-Star relay of Comerford, Worrell, Kirsten Vose, and Smith took this event in 6:56.-09, with Vose recording the fastest split of the field, a 1:43.14.  The Big Ten “A’ team took 2nd in 7:00.40, while the USA “A’ team placed 3rd in 7:07.49.

Men’s 800 Free Relay

The men’s race was much closer, as Grothe outsplit Ohio State’s Josh Fleagle 1:33.48 to 1:34.10 to give the USA the win here, 6:19.62 to the Big Ten’s 6:19.80.  Pieroni gave the Big Ten a lead with a 1:33.74 lead off leg that gives him the fastest individual 200 free in the country by over two seconds so far this year and put him ahead of Shields.  Anze Tavcar and Brett Pinfold continued to hold the lead for the Big Ten over national teamers Lehane and Pebley, but Grothe pulled ahead of Fleagle halfway through their leg and held on the for the win.


After one day of competition, Team USA leads the Big Ten 185 to 111.  The Big Ten has a lot more swimmers here, but the scoring system favors wins, with 9 of each individual event’s 19 possible points going to the winner, and that’s going to make it very difficult, for the Big Ten to stage a comeback tomorrow.

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Coach Mike 1952
5 years ago

Typo above: Smith had over a one second lead at the halfway point, but enough left in the tank to hold off Smith. Ought to be King had over a one second lead at the halfway point, but enough left in the tank to hold off Smith.

Thumbs up
5 years ago

Meet is very exciting. A LOT of people in the stands which was a bit surprising considering how expensive the tickets were. A lot of best times! A few intense showdowns including the last swim of the night during the 4 by 200 men’s relay! These guys are in the middle of hard training and still swimming very competitively! Looking forward to watching day 2 at THE NAT!

5 years ago

Leah Smith 4:32!!! I know Ledecky can go faster, but she’s still faster than Ledecky has been this season (so far), which is insane considering how good Ledecky is in season as well!

Reply to  Person
5 years ago

Ledecky has no one to push. She was basically swimming by herself. Ledecky vs Smith should be a good race at NCAA.

5 years ago

Congratulations to Hannah Stevens who lead off the USA All-Star “A” team 400 medley relay with a 51.13- 100 yard backstroke split. That time is the fastest in the NCAA so far this year. Also, her 3rd place finish in the 200 back a 1.53.30 was a personal best and moved her into the 3rd fastest time in the NCAA too.

5 years ago

Earlier today Katie Ledecky swam 4:33.94 in training suit not long after swimming 1.57 in 200 fly…

Sprint Nashville
Reply to  Tom
5 years ago

9:10 in the 1000 and put in a 4:34. Wow!

Sprint Nashville
Reply to  Sprint Nashville
5 years ago

Just realized that her 1000 is the second fastest swim of all time behind her AM of a 8:59.

Reply to  Tom
5 years ago

and KL was 4:34.35 at 500yd on her way in the 1000yd…..
The 4:33.94 was after the 1000 free and 200 fly.

5 years ago

Dang shields fly split ????????

5 years ago

Miller should’ve been DQ’d, but they didn’t ask me… 🙂

Baker\'s Pearl Earrings
5 years ago

MALLORY FREAKING COMERFORD!!! She’ll give all the Pac 12 girls a run for their money come March

Reply to  Baker\'s Pearl Earrings
5 years ago

I can see her challenging the top 3 at NCAAs

Reply to  hswimmer
5 years ago

ur kidding me right?
lol doubt Manuel Ledecky Neals loosing any sleep over this
Comerford who?

Card gonna sweep all the freestyles 50 to 1650 easy
this is LEDECKY & MANUEL we are talking about folks no one will come close!
there relays will be ridiculous records gonna get destroyed left & right

Eastin will own the ims & 200 fly
Hu & Howe the backstrokes
only race Stanford may get beaten would be King over Eastin in the breast

Reply to  coach
5 years ago

Calm down, its just a comment..

Reply to  coach
5 years ago

47.36 is pretty good for in season. You make it sound like the 50 and 100 will be a walk in the park for Manuel, she has to go against Weitzel and Smoliga both of which have a better 50, Weitzel is the American record holder in that and Smoliga is the NCAA record holder. When you say sweep do you mean 1,2,3 finish? The only event I can see that as very likely is the 200 free.

Reply to  coach
5 years ago

Abbey gon have something to say about that.