2018 M. NCAA Picks: Mahmoud Looking to Be More Than Bridesmaid in 1650

2018 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

1650 FREESTYLE

  • NCAA record: Clark Smith (Texas), 2017, 14:22.41
  • American record: Zane Grothe, 2017, 14:18.25
  • U.S. Open record: Zane Grothe, 2017, 14:18.25
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Clark Smith (Texas), 14:22.41

The mile was a fantastic race last year, with Clark Smith getting to the wall just ahead of Northwestern’s Jordan Wilimovsky, Michigan’s Felix Auboeck, and South Carolina’s Akaram Mahmoud with a new NCAA, American, and U.S. Open record of 14:22.41.

It wasn’t the first photo finish for Mahmoud, who was touched out at the wall by Penn’s Chris Swanson at the 2016 NCAA Champs. He’s been so close for two years in a row, and this year, he’s gunning for the crown. Mahmoud is seeded 4th going into NCAAs with a 14:37.01, but the race will likely be a rematch with Michigan’s Auboeck, as he and Mahmoud are the fastest in the field by a considerable margin. Auboeck is the 2nd seed with a 14:34.10, while NC State’s Anton Ipsen‘s 14:31.21 leads the way going into the big meet.

Felix Auboeck (Photo: Tim Binning)

Four freshmen sit inside the top 12 seeds currently. Third seed Zach Yeadon from Notre Dame has had a fantastic first NCAA season, dropping his best from 14:49.90 down to 14:34.60 in a single year. Mexican national and Michigan first year Ricardo Vargas sits 7th (14:40.30), while highly-touted recruit and Cal Freshman Sean Grieshop is 1oth (14:43.35) and his Bay Area rival Johannes Calloni of Stanford is 12th (14:45.80).

PJ Ransford of Michigan and Grant Shoults of Stanford return from last year’s top 8– Ransford is a ways down the psych sheet at 23rd (14:49.19), while Shoults is right up at 5th (14:39.59). Two expected names rank in the top 10– Marcelo Acosta (14:41.21) at 8th and True Sweetser at 9th (14:41.48). Acosta, a Louisville junior, was 10th last year (14:39.79) and Stanford sophomore Sweetser was 12th (14:40.72).

A newer name to the top 10 is Cal junior Nick Norman. Last year, Norman finished 2nd to last at this meet, more than thirty seconds outside of scoring. He was 9 seconds out of scoring as a freshman, but at both of his NCAA meets thus far, he’s added. He’s been 14:39.77 this year, though, wildly ahead of his 2016 collegiate best (14:51.89) and much faster than his high school best (14:50.78). The tides may be turning in Cal’s favor– with Norman and Grieshop in the top ten, we could see not one, but two Bears scoring in the mile, which has been one of their weakest events in recent memory.

The South Carolina distance group is one to watch here– in addition to Mahmoud, who has a shot at a NCAA title, the Gamecocks have Cody Bekemeyer at 20th (14:48.58), and then freshmen Brandonn Almeida (14:48.60) and Rafael Davila (14:51.39) at 21st and 25th, respectively. Bekemeyer was 13th last year, and Tomas Peribonio was 15th. Peribonio qualified in the 200 and 400 IM, and with his B cut, he’ll likely race the mile, too.

TOP 8 PICKS:

PLACE SWIMMER SEASON BEST LIFETIME BEST
1 Akaram Mahmoud (South Carolina) 14:37.01 14:22.99
2 Felix Auboeck (Michigan) 14:34.10 14:22.88
3 Anton Ipsen (NC State) 14:31.21 14:31.21
4 Grant Shoults (Stanford) 14:39.59 14:35.82
5 Zach Yeadon (Notre Dame) 14:34.60 14:34.60
6 PJ Ransford (Michigan) 14:49.19 14:32.35
7 Marcelo Acosta (Louisville) 14:41.21 14:33.68
8 True Sweetser (Stanford) 14:41.48 14:35.03

DARK HORSE: Jacob Wielinski of Mizzou. Wielinksi is seeded 11th with a 14:44.24, but the transfer out of North Dakota has seen big drops this year and was pretty much unknown until this season. He’s the fastest Mizzou swimmer, ever, by a landslide in this event, and he could have more to drop come NCAAs.

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Swimmer A

You want it to be Akaram Mohmoud, but I feel like Felix Auboeck is going to take this one, and Clark Smith’s record.

N P

It’s tough to imagine a better race than last year, but with Auboeck and Mahmoud returning it’s shaping up to be another great one! I wouldn’t be surprised to see them under 14:20.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Ransford in the thick of things this time. He always makes his move at some point in the middle of the mile and he’s faded in his recent races (’17 NCAAs, ’17 Nationals, etc.), but he seems to time his move better and better each time. This time I think he’ll be close to nailing it; I think he’ll be around 14:25 or so, right ahead of (or right with) the rest of the field.

BSD

Problem with PJ this time around is that he will not be in the final heat, so his strategy will be harder to do if he can’t see his main competition.

JP input is too short

He’ll have Almeida and Bekemeyer in his heat, that could definitely be a race.

ArtVanDeLegh10

Looks to be a two man race between Mahmoud and Auboeck. I can’t see anyone staying with either of these two.

Friuti

We know who will be leading at the 1000 though ?

ArtVanDeLegh10

Ransford but he’ll die off the last 500 when the other maintain their paces or even get faster.

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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