2017 M. NCAA Picks: Historic 17 Second Swim Not Out of the Question



A year after lowering the 50 free NCAA and American Records to an eye-popping 18.20, Florida’s Caeleb Dressel returns to the national stage as a junior for the Gators. This year, we could conceivably see the first-ever sub-18 swim from a flat start. An unshaved Dressel cranked out an 18.46 to win the SEC Championship title, and put up blistering relays splits of 17.86 and 17.90 to lead the Gators to victory. The distance between 18.2 and 17.9 is huge in swimming terms, so it’s certainly not a likely bet we’ll see 17 this week. But then again, Dressel has pretty consistently proved doubters wrong and showed last year he can drop significant time between SECs and NCAAs. Whether he breaks the 18-second barrier or not, Dressel is the heavy favorite to win his 3rd consecutive NCAA title in this event.

If anyone were to pull off an upset in this race, it would likely be NC State sprint star Ryan Held. Following his performance at the 2017 ACC Championships, Held sits just outside the top 10 performers of all time with his unshaved 18.68.

We could see a new face in the top 3 of this event, as Texas’ Joseph Schooling will swim the race at NCAAs for the first time. At Big 12s, Schooling set a new Conference Record with his 18.76. Teammates Jack Conger, who swam a personal best 19.20 at Big 12s, and Brett Ringgold, who finished 10th last season, will also be in the running for a top 8 finish.

In addition to Dressel and Held, the returning All-Americans in this race include Missouri’s Michael Chadwick and Michigan’s Paul Powers. Over half of last season’s top 8 graduated (or went pro, in the case of Gkolomeev), so we could see some of the swimmers from last season’s B final move up. Additional returning scorers include Stanford’s Sam Perry, Indiana’s Ali Khalafalla, NC State’s Andreas Schiellerup, BYU’s Payton Sorenson and Auburn teammates Peter Holoda and Kyle Darmody.

There area handful of returners who have put up promising results this season, and could make their way into the A final in Indianapolis. Texas A&M’s Cory Bolleter, Minnesota’s Bowen Becker, Tennessee’s Kyle DeCoursey, Auburn’s Zach Apple, and Cal’s Justin Lynch have all been 19-low this season. USC’s sprint duo of Santo Condorelli and Dylan Carter, as well as Penn State’s Shane Ryan, will also be in the mix as they return after taking a redshirt in 2015-16.

A few freshmen have established themselves as some of the nation’s best sprinters and will compete for All-American status in this race at their first NCAA meet. Cal’s Pac-12 champ Pawel Sendyk and teammate Michael Jensen are among the freshmen frontrunners, as is Alabama’s Zane Waddell.


Place Swimmer Team Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Caeleb Dressel Florida 18.46 18.20
2 Ryan Held NC State 18.68 18.68
3 Joseph Schooling Texas 18.76 18.76
4 Paul Powers Michigan 18.80 18.80
5 Michael Chadwick Missouri 19.18 19.04
6 Brett Ringgold Texas 19.29 19.07
7 Ali Khalafalla Indiana 18.94 18.94
8 Pawel Sendyk Cal 19.10 19.10

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Wow this event has gotten fast.


To final it seems it might take an 18. Thats crazy.


No, there isn’t going to be a 17 second 50 free this year. There might be some 17 second relay splits.

But Caeleb Dressel will be the winner of the 50 free. He’s got a superhuman dive and turn that is thrilling to watch.


Bold prediction Mark

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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