2018 M. NCAA Picks: Frosh Aim for Podium in Senior-Heavy 400 IM Field


  • Wednesday, March 21st-Saturday, March 24th
  • Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Defending champion: Texas (3x)
  • Psych Sheet
  • Championship Central

400 Individual Medley

With last year’s fourth-place finisher Gunnar Bentz (injury) failing to secure an invite in this event and not looking like he’ll pull off an upset in his bonus event, and 2017 champion Chase Kalisz graduated, the men’s 400 IM is set to see some fresh faces in the A final.

Hugo Gonzalez
(Courtesy: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

Auburn Freshman Hugo Gonzalez had an absolute breakout meet at the 2018 SEC Championships. Though he was overshadowed by Caeleb Dressel‘s 1:38.31 in the 200 IM, Gonzalez threw down a 1:40.67, tying him with Mark Szaranek as the 10th-fastest performer of all-time. He went on to win the 400 IM at that meet in 3:35.76, almost two seconds ahead of Szaranek, the #3 performance of all-time — making him the #2 performer behind Kalisz. However, the monster swim was a 3.52-second drop off of his previous best, so it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to match it, let alone improve, next week.

Florida senior Mark Szaranek, on the other hand, has over the last two years proven to drop time between SECs and NCAAs: in 2016 he dropped two seconds between the meets, and in 2017 he dropped a few tenths. He went 3:36.31 at NCAAs last year after going 3:36.54 at SECs — but Caeleb Dressel himself said that Szaranek had yet to drop down his yardage before going 3:37.50 at SECs this year.

Last year, Cal junior Andrew Seliskar went 3:39.53 at Pac-12s before going 3:36.18 at NCAAs. This year, he’s already been 3:38.65, pointing to good things to come at NCAAs. He, Szaranek, and Gonzalez are the top contenders for the podium, we can’t count out South Carolina freshman Brandonn Almeida, who went 3:39.08 at SECs. Due to issues with NCAA eligibility paperwork, Almeida only made his college debut this semester and has only swum two SCY 400 IMs in his life — both of them were in February. His LCM time of 4:13.00 that placed him 7th at the 2017 FINA World Championships converts to 3:36.59 in short course, so consider him a real podium threat.

Spots 4-8 are a little murkier. Georgia senior Jay Litherland has been 3:38.19 (December 2016), and then went 3:40.84 at 2017 SECs before going 3:38.39 at 2017 NCAAs. This year, he was 3:39.96 in December, then 3:42.50 at SECs. Stanford junior Abrahm Devine took fifth in this event last year (3:37.73), but got DQ’ed in finals at Pac-12s this year, hence his #30 seed. You can watch the Pac-12 race finish here, however, and see that his time would’ve been around 3:39.50 had he not been called.

Anton Ipsen (Courtesy: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com)

Finally, seniors Jonathan Roberts and Anton Ipsen. Texas’ Roberts took sixth in 3:38.18 at 2017 NCAAs, but barely secured an invite this year with his 3:43.72 entry time, swum at the 2018 Big 12 Championships. Granted, we don’t know what his rest was like for that meet. NC State’s Ipsen is in the midst of perhaps the best season of his life — he dropped substantial time every event at the 2018 ACC Championships (including his 3:40.48 400 IM), we can be pretty sure he wasn’t well-rested (check out this tweet). Last year, he was 3:44.77 at ACCs, and lowered his time to 3:41.57 at NCAAs, so expect a drop at his final NCAAs.

Stanford’s Curtis Ogren was 3:40.25 at Pac-12s this year after going 3:41.6 at NCAAs in 2017. Again, we don’t know exactly how rested he was at Pac-12s, but Ogren is a strong candidate to drop under the 3:40 mark. Consider him the “dark horse” candidate.

If you look at the psych sheet, you’ll see sophomores Charlie Swanson and Ted Schubert are entered with 3:39.16 and 3:39.52, respectively. But both dropped considerable time (read: “insane” for Schubert) at their conference championships. Swanson dropped from 3:41.13, while Schubert dropped over 7.5 seconds, from 3:47.52, so it seems somewhat unlikely that they can match their conference times.


1 Mark Szaranek Florida 3:37.50 (#2) 3:36.54
2 Andrew Seliskar Cal 3:38.65 (#3) 3:36.18
3 Abrahm DeVine  Stanford  3:44.41 (#30) 3:37.73
4 Brandonn Almeida South Carolina 3:39.09 (#4) 3:39.09
5 Hugo Gonzalez Auburn 3:35.76 (#1) 3:35.76
6 Jay Litherland Georgia 3:39.96 (#7) 3:38.19
 7 Jonathan Roberts  Texas  3:43.72 (#27) 3:38.18
8 Anton Ipsen NC State  3:40.48 (#9)  3:40.48


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Justin Wright
2 years ago

No mention of zona senior Nick Thorne? 🙁

2 years ago

I’ll give everyone that upvotes a dollar if Gunnar Bentz actually misses the A final

2 years ago

This promise is just meaningless. How could you know who the upvoters are and whether they upvoted it before or after the race? And how would you give the upvoters that money? Actually the upvoters may not even want to waste their time simply asking a dollar from you. You know you won’t have to pay anything even if your prediction goes wrong.

Reply to  ellie
2 years ago

it a joke calm down

Reply to  ellie
2 years ago

you must be fun at parties

2 years ago

I can see Szarenek or Seliskar beating Gonzalez, but Gonzalez in 5th behind Devine and Almedia? I don’t think so.

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Yeah no way. I can see it being a battle between Seliskar, Gonzalez and Szarenek . With a 3:35, Gonzalez is not going to finish 5th. He is a freshman so maybe the lack of experience might get to him but he will definitely be on the podium

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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