2018 M. NCAA Day 4 Finals Preview: Buckle Up, It’ll Be a Wild Ride

by Robert Gibbs 7

March 24th, 2018 News


It’s been at least four years since we’ve seen anything resembling a close race for the team title heading into the final session of the NCAA Men’s Division I Swimming & Diving Championships.  That year, 2014, Texas was projected to win a narrow victory based on Saturday morning’s swims, but Cal roared back with a lights out swim by Jeremy Bagshaw in the mile, and the Bears kept the momentum going, as Cal ultimately won by over 50 points.

This year, there’s not just two, but at least three different teams who still have a shot of winning, with Cal, Indiana, and Texas all very much in the hunt.  In such a narrow race, every swim tonight by each of those three teams could factor into he final outcome, meaning that swim fans are in for a thrilling ride, possibly down to the very last relay.

Beyond the battle for team championship, we’ve also got a couple records that should go down tonight.  We’re also expecting at least one record-smashing swim tonight, as Caeleb Dressel looks like to break the 40.0 barrier in the 100 freestyle.  And NC State swam to the fastest time ever in the 400 free relay in prelims and are likely to do it again in finals.

Like we said, buckle up, hang on to your hats, insert your own folksy saying of choice here, because we’re in for one exciting night of swimming.  Here’s a closer look at what’s to come to in each event.

1650 – Fastest Heat

The mile was arguably the most thrilling race at last year’s NCAAs, with four men vying stroke-for-stroke down the stretch, and all of them finishing under the old NCAA record.  Michigan’s Felix Auboeck and South Carolina’s Akaram Mahmoud return from that foursome, and they’ll be swimming side-by-side tonight in lanes 5 and 6.  Also watch out for NC State’s Anton Ipsen, who holds the top seed and will be swimming in lane 4, and California’s Nick Norman.  The junior has looked better this year than ever, and the Bears could really use him to pick up some big points here to stay in the running with the Hoosiers and the Longhorns.

Check out our recap of earlier heats here.

200 Back

Texas put three men into the A-final, led by last year’s runner-up, John Shebat.  He looked a little rough on Thursday, but has gotten better each of the past two days, and looked like a man on a mission this morning.  Fellow Longhorn Austin Katz has also looked great in his first meet at NCAAs, and could pip his teammate for the victory out of lane 6.

Watch for some outside smoke, though, as Harvard’s Dean Farris will be swimming out of lane 1, and yesterday’s 400 IM champion, Abrahm DeVine, will be in lane 8.

100 Free

There’s no question that Caeleb Dressel, swimming in lane 4, is going to win this.  The only question is – how fast will he go?  39?  38?  Don’t blink, folks, because we’re expecting to see history made in this event tonight.

But there should be a great battle for second surrounding Dressel, with Indiana’s Blake Pieroni in lane 5, and NC State’s Ryan Held in lane 3.  Pieroni just out swam Held in the individual event this morning, but Held was a tad faster leading off the 400 free relay for the Wolpack, and we could see both men go under 41.

200 Breast

Indiana’s Ian Finnerty and Cal’s Andrew Seliskar with within a tenth of a second of each’s other time’s this morning, and will be swimming in lanes 4 and 5, respectively.  We’ll have to see how much more either swimmer has left in the tank after a crazy week of racing, but it’s worth noting that Finnerty came in with a slightly faster time, and he drop a significant chunk of time from seed time to finals yesterday when he smashed the U.S. Open Record.

200 Fly

It’s anyone’s game here, with at least three or four swimmers having good arguments for why they could win.  NC State’s Andreas Vazaios was the only man under 1:40 this morning, so he’ll be in lane 4.  He’ll be flanked by Florida’s Jan Switkowski, winner of the 200 IM and runner-up in the 100 fly, and Arizona senior Justin Wright.  Cal’s Mike Thomas leads a trio of Golden Bears, and Cal will need to move up.

Platform Diving

Expect a drastic uptick in how many swimming fans tune in for diving tonight, as Texas and Indiana both have one man in the final.  Longhorn Jordan Windle had the top score in prelims, but he’ll have to outperform a field than includes defending champion David Dinsmore of Miami and Indiana’s Andrew Capobianco.

400 Free Relay

It’s been a long time since the meet champion was decided by the 400 free relay, but depending on how things break in the earlier events, that could very well be the case tonight.  NC State looks assured of a victory after their dominant prelims performance, but 2nd and 3rd seeds Indiana and Texas will be certainly be grinding with every ounce of energy they have, and we should be in a for a treat to cap off the evening.

Additionally, this race will likely feature a host of big names swimming their college race ever, including Dressel.

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Something tells me there’s a big surprise lurking in this last session.

wild Bill

CD – 38.8 or better


Let’s be real it would be fortunate if Dressel can even break 40 !

PJ Dunne

You right, it’ll be a ride tonight

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