2017 M. NCAA 200 Free Preview: Who Are Cameron Craig and Dean Farris?



Texas sophomore Townley Haas won an NCAA title, posted the fastest split on the American gold medal 800 free relay in Rio, and now he’s back to defend his crown. But despite taking the 200y free to new heights last spring, Haas doesn’t come in with the same momentum as two new kids on the block.

Dean Farris is the first name you need to know. Hailing from the Atlanta area, Farris was a pretty strong recruit for Harvard– a 20.3/44.6/1:38.7 freestyler when he committed in October of 2015. That spring, he was down to 43.7/1:36.0, but he didn’t stop there. Having the ultimate freshman season and putting Harvard (and the Ivy League) on the map, Farris unleashed a 1:31.56 at Ivies for the sixth-fastest time ever and the fastest time this season. He was an absolute stud on all of Harvard’s relays that he swam, and was very impressive in the 100 back (45.38), where he’s seeded 9th overall.

The freshmen madness doesn’t stop there– leading a fast-rising Arizona State program is Michigan native Cameron Craig, who came into college with some international experience under his belt after competing at the 2016 Jr Pan Pacs. Craig went 1:31.71 to win Pac-12s, taking out USC’s Dylan Carter (1:31.98) at the wall. The freshman Craig swims similarly to Mallory Comerford– out somewhat strong, but comes home like a monster; an epic closer. Carter, a USC junior, is having a great year in his own right after redshirting last season for the Olympics.

The question will be – how much further can those two go this season. This is their chance to prove it. But for now, we’ll rely on history that freshmen who come-from-nowhere at conference meets slide when they get to NCAAs.

Indiana’s Blake Pieroni has also broken 1:32 this season, his 1:31.83 earning him the #3 seed for NCAAs. Pieroni was flat at NCAAs last year, adding time from his seed and falling to 8th. He’s been faster this year, though, and after a huge summer (which included him making the U.S. Olympic team), Pieroni certainly has the momentum to push for a top 3 finish.

Then there’s Haas, who has been 1:32.17 this year. A slower seed time shouldn’t be a cause for concern– the Longhorn was seeded with a 1:33.19 last season when he destroyed the American record, so being a full second faster thus far in the season as compared to last year could actually be a sign that the 1:30 barrier will come crashing down this year. Another freshman, Florida’s Maxime Rooney, follows directly behind Haas at 1:32.18, as he’ll look to make his first NCAA final for the Gators.

A group of seniors are the next four seeds, with NC State’s Soeren Dahl and Louisville’s Trevor Carroll representing the ACC and Ohio State’s Joshua Fleagle and IU’s Marwan El Kamash representing the Big Ten. Dahl and Carroll made the B final in this race last year, while Fleagle made the A final at the 2015 NCAA champs before he took a redshirt year. El Kamash is part of an Indiana freestyle group that has been on fire this year, although he’s a swimmer a bit better equipped for the longer races.

Meanwhile, Mitch D’Arrigo, who was 6th in this event last year, can’t be underestimated because of his low seed. He’s been 1:34.01 this year for 27th, but he was a 1:34-low last year coming in and busted a 1:32.6 anyways to make the A final. The Florida senior will be on a mission to cap off his career on top.


1 Townley Haas Texas 1:32.17 (#5) 1:30.46
2 Dylan Carter USC 1:31.98 (#4) 1:31.98
3 Blake Pieroni Indiana 1:31.83 (#3) 1:31.83
4 Maxime Rooney Florida 1:32.18 (#6) 1:32.18
5 Dean Farris Harvard 1:31.56 (#1) 1:31.56
6 Cameron Craig Arizona State 1:31.71 (#2) 1:31.70
7 Mitch D’Arrigo Florida 1:34.07 (#27) 1:32.62
8 Soeren Dahl NC State 1:32.74 (#7) 1:32.74

Dark Horse: Jan Switkowski (Florida). Like D’Arrigo, Switkowski is a ways down the psych sheet– #33 with a 1:34.41. He was seeded with a 1:34.99 last year, though, and dropped tons of time to ultimately end up 4th overall. It’s hard to judge whether this is an off season for him or if he’s just saving his best meet for the last meet of the year– if it’s the latter, he could scare for the top 3.

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1:29 please


OMG that would be so sugoi, desu! I will dedicate a portion of my waifu shrine to the first person to go 1:29! (╭☞’ω’)╭☞


Two guys who are going to be VERY nervous.


This is the guy who predicted that Farris would be 25 yards behind Haas before the Ivy League championship. I think he’s the only one nervous. The other two guys will compete.

Attila the Runt

It was half a pool. And we’ll see. I think he’s more likely to throw a 1:33 at NCAAs.


Yeah, I said half a pool (they are swimming 25 yards, NEWSWIM) based on his 1:33 high and Haas likely to go 1:30 flat or better. The Harvard kid did better, but I agree with The Runt, Ivy’s will be his best swim by far. He’ll be out of the A final. He’s never been side by side with the big boys, and he won’t be the first or last freshman to be flat. Cameron Craig, on the other hand, has raced some of the top talent at Pac12s.


Your “side by side with the big boys” comment would make sense if this was basketball or football. However, I am pretty sure—I have no idea if this is scientifically true—swimming with people your speed helps you go faster than swimming against guys who are literally half the pool behind you. I doubt he’ll win (1.5 seconds is a lot at that speed) but I’d put money on him making the A final.


Ever watched the Olympics? Not so many best times there for the majority of the top athletes. Sometimes pressure and just trying to win aren’t as conducive to the fastest swim.


Probably NOT scientifically true. Unless you’re able to sit on someone hip and get a draft — swimming off the front alone means smoother water and an easier swim. From a psychological perspective, being in race might draw out a better swim from him. We’ll know in 3 days!

Ivy Leaguer

Also Dean Farris is 6’8….he’s no small guy

Attila the Runt

He wouldn’t be the first tall guy to choke at NCAAs.


“Never” swam with the big boys. What about the Texas Invite? Made A final and finished third (less than 1 second behind). Now, NCAAs are not a mid-season invite but this isn’t a swimmer who hasn’t competed against the best and held his own. Let’s hope your prediction for this weekend is equally on the mark as your past predictions for Farris.


Is that you, Farris?


I think we have identified the “I told you so” guy of these boards. Just let people comment without taking it so personally. You obviously like (or are) this kid Farris. That’s great. Hope he does well. But that “I told you so” stuff gets really old, especially with a long meet ahead.


Ouch. Easy there, tiger.


He dropped 7 seconds in a year?? Did he grow a whole bunch?


No but Dean was and still kindve is a very tall and thin kid he’s about 6’5 and his frame has filled out a lot this year .

Atlanta boy

He was like 6’6 at the end of senior year he didn’t grow a bunch but he put on a whole lot of weight.


He dropped 2.7 his senior year and then dropped 4.5 this year so far. He was roughly 5’10 his freshman year of high school and I think he’s about 6’6 now

bobo gigi

It reminds me of 15-year-old new beast Jack Walker! 😆
He dropped 6.25 seconds last December at US short course junior nationals East! In one meet! From 1.40.02 to 1.33.73!
And between March 2016 and December 2016 he dropped 9.18 seconds! From 1.42.91 to 1.33.73.
He swims 1.38/1.39 since then.
So either he had a week of grace in Greensboro or maybe it was another 23-yard pool there. 🙂 Or, more seriously and that’s my opinion, he’s a huge taper swimmer who drops a lot of time with taper. Interesting to see his future big meets.

bobo gigi

He’s now 16.


An interesting point. Apparently Farris was dropping time all season and the question was whether he could still drop time on taper! Asked and answered. His 200 Texas Invite final included Haas, Shoults, Pinfold and Clark Smith so I doubt “racing the big boys” will be an issue. If he can’t improve on his recent tapered Ivy finals that would not be a surprise, but he’s done nothing but surprise people this season. Should be a fun race.

Attila the Runt

It think the point was racing the big boys on the big stage. It’s one thing to race Haas and Smith after an Eddie Reese fall slamming when they’re dead tired, it’s another thing to step up on a second taper against those first tapered Olympians and others. Hope he does well, but would not be surprised if he bombs.

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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