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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As predicted, low interest given the swimmers and format. Looked as though there were about 57 people in the stands.

Gray zone

Actually, a friend, who is at the meet, says it’s good crowd with around 1000 spectators.


No chance! Watching on TV live and might be 150 spectators at MOST.
But, im not exactly sure how many stayed until the end as the Big10 network shut it down before the last few events.


I was also at the meet. Very enthusiastic crowd, probably in the neighborhood of 1000-1500.


I must have been watching the wrong meet bc there is no way more than 150-200 people were in stands.


Interesting over the course of 3 comments the number went from 57 to 200…also no one cares what you predicted lol


Didnt say I predicted the low turnout (wrote “as predicted” not “as I predicted”) if you care to read. But if i did predict it, some actually do care lol

57/150/ (which i might concede)/200, what’s the difference? Very few in stands, and no where close to the 1000-1500 people are claiming.


I was also there. Much bigger crowd than I expected. I had to sit high up on bench seat because all the seats with backs were taken. Great, loud, exciting meet.


Meanwhile the Stanford – Texas meet set a new attendance record for a swim meet at that facility.




Ali Deloof’s 50.5 is both an outstanding PB (0.7), and puts her right in the mix of the top ten performers of all time!!!

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