2018 M. NCAA Finals Preview: What Other Barriers Can Dressel Break?

2018 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday night finals at the 2018 Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships will feature the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, and 200 medley relay; and boy, are we in for a treat. Each race has shaped up to be a thriller for a number of reasons. Let’s take a look at what’s to come.

View the full finals heat sheet here.

400 IM – For the first time ever, it took under 3:40 to make the A-final in this event. The speed might not top out as fast as Chase Kalisz was last year (3:33.42), but overall, prelims were the fastest they’ve ever been. #1-seed Hugo Gonzalez failed to score (3:46.19), and #2-seed Mark Szaranek missed the A-final (3:39.83). #4-seed Brandonn Almeida is seeded eighth tonight, and #3-seed Andrew Seliskar posted the fastest time by .8 in prelims (# 3:37.84). Further, the #7-#12 swims from prelims are separated by only .71. While Kalisz’s record looks to be out of reach, the battle for the podium will be epic.

100 fly – After breaking 18 in the 50 free twice yesterday, nothing seems impossible for Caeleb Dressel at this point. Though he’s said to be dealing with a groin injury, it’s unclear how much that’s actually affecting his swims, because he cruised just about the easiest 44.37 (20.32/24.05) you’ll ever see this morning. Consider :42 very much in-play tonight. Indiana’s Vini Lanza took second this morning with an impressive lifetime best of 44.66, good for 8th all-time. While Joseph Schooling was off individually in his 50 free yesterday (19.29), he put up a solid 44.97 this morning, good for third — fly is his strong suit, so we’ll have to see what he has left in the tank tonight.

200 free – Though he took fourth in prelims with a 1:32.40, you can bet that Indiana’s Blake Pieroni has his mind set on breaking 1:30 again. Texas’ Townley Haas is the top qualifier heading into finals after posting a 1:31.78, and Auburn’s Zach Apple is the #2-seed in 1:32.20 — a lifetime best by .82. USC’s Dylan Carter jumped from the #13-seed in the event to the 3-spot tonight (1:32.30), and was 1:30.95 last year. Harvard’s Dean Farris posted a 1:32.41, just behind Pieroni, and is a definite threat to crack 1:31.

100 breast – This race likely belongs to Indiana’s Ian Finnerty, who became the #3 performer of all-time this morning (50.47); he’ll aim to join Caeleb Dressel and Kevin Cordes as the only men under :50.4. In second was Cal’s 6-seed Connor Hoppe (51.78), followed by USC’s 8-seed Carsten Vissering in 51.87. Indiana’s Levi Brock, who was the 2-seed entering the day, took 7th in prelims with a 52.24, but has been 51.45.

100 back – USC freshman and #5-seed Robert Glinta took first in prelims with a 44.99, but it was over a half-second drop from his previous PR. It was 12- and 14-seeds Andreas Vazaios and John Shebat with the biggest jumps this morning, however, tying for second in 45.00. It was a quarter-second drop for Vazaios, while Shebat has been 44.35. Coleman Stewart, the #1-seed entering the day, took 7th in 45.16 but has been 44.54. #2-seed Mark Nikolaev missed the A-final, ending up 9th in 45.30. Freshmen Nick Albiero and Austin Katz also made the A-final with lifetime bests of 44.05 and 45.21, respectively, and are threats to break the :45 barrier.

200 medley relay – Can Caeleb Dressel do the unthinkable and break 17 on a relay split? He was 17.63 flat start. He was 17.3 with a relay start this morning. Relay starts can often shave about .7 seconds, but Dressel’s flat start is already incredible… It would be absurd to see a 16 — but it was also absurd to see a 17.6, so who’s to say? Beyond Dressel, this race was about as close as it gets this morning. USC was first in 1:22.76, but Cal, Florida, Indiana, and Texas were separated by only .08 for the 2- through 4-spots. However, Florida is opting not to use Jan Switkowski on this relay, which might keep the race in Cal and USC’s favor.

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A$AP Pocky

The barrier to my heart <3

Scoobysnak

The sound barrier

Pvdh

The blood brain barrier

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in Media Studies and American Studies at Claremont McKenna College. When she's not writing about swimming or baseball, you can probably find her listening to a podcast or in a pool ... and/or watching Seinfeld, which she just realized is funny.

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