2018 M. NCAA Previews: Farris in the Hunt vs. Texas 200 Backstrokers



  • NCAA record: Ryan Murphy (Cal), 2016, 1:35.73
  • American record: Ryan Murphy (Cal), 2016, 1:35.73
  • U.S. Open record: Ryan Murphy (Cal), 2016, 1:35.73
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Ryan Murphy (Cal), 1:36.75

John Shebat (photo: Tim Binning)

There are several men in contention for the 200 back title this year. Four of them are Longhorns, with the Texas men heading into the meet with the potential to make up half of the championship final. Texas will field Austin Katz, Ryan Harty, Jonathan Roberts, and John Shebat. Both Shebat and Roberts are returning finalists. Harty is back after a redshirt season, while Katz will be competing in his first NCAAs as a freshman. Katz is the fastest man in the country this season. He, Harty, and Roberts have all been sub-1:40 already. The only question here is Shebat. At 100%, Shebat would be the favorite, but his fastest this season is a 1:41.52. Since he was out with an injury, we can’t be totally sure if he’s fully recovered until we see what he can do at the meet.

Though the Texas men have a great shot at landing someone on top of the podium, Harvard’s Dean Farris could be an obstacle to that. Farris, the Ivy League Champion, broke 1:39 for the first time this season. He’s the only man aside from Katz to do so this year. Another major challenge for the Horns is USC’s Patrick Mulcare, who has a best time in the 1:37-range. Mulcare was absent from Pac-12s, but was fast enough prior to that to earn 4th seed for the meet, just behind Auburn’s Hugo Gonzalez. Like Katz, Gonzalez will be competing in his first NCAAs as a freshman. He was a 1:39.05 at midseason. At SECs, he dropped significant time in his events except for in the 200 back, so his best swim may be yet to come in this event.

We already have 10 men who have been below 1:40 this season, and a few more have lifetime bests faster than that. It could be a tough battle for the last few spots in the final. Alabama’s Christopher Reid, Indiana’s Mohamed Samy, Denver’s Anton Loncar, and NC State’s Coleman Stewart should all be in the mix. Of those men, Loncar is the only returning finalist. Georgia’s Javier Acevedo and Stanford’s Abrahm DeVine have been just a tenth shy of breaking 1:40 this year.

We have quite a few talented freshmen who could step up and grab a top 8 spot. Florida’s Michael Taylor put up a lifetime best 1:40.28 at his last chance meet. Cal’s Daniel Carr and Bryce Mefford have made big drops this season and both enter with times in the 1:40-range. USC’s Robert Glinta, an Olympic backstroke finalist, enters with a 1:40.50. This is his first season of yards swimming, so it’s hard to know what to expect, but it’s safe to say he’s a contender. Indiana’s Gabriel Fantoni is also in his first season of yards and enters in the 1:40-range.

The darkhorse pick in this race is NC State’s Hennessey Stuart, who has a lifetime best of 1:38.56 from the 2016 NCAA meet. Last season, Stuart broke 1:40 at ACCs, but then finished 21st in prelims at NCAAs. This season, he’s the 15th seed in 1:40.32. If he can get back down to his 1:38, he has a shot at finishing in the top 5.


Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Austin Katz (Texas) 1:38.49 1:38.49
2 Dean Farris (Harvard) 1:38.99 1:38.99
3 Patrick Mulcare (USC) 1:39.18 1:37.80
4 Jonathan Roberts (Texas) 1:39.76 1:39.05
5 Hugo Gonzalez (Auburn) 1:39.05 1:39.05
6 Ryan Harty (Texas) 1:39.23 1:39.17
7 Coleman Stewart (NC State) 1:39.56 1:39.56
8 Christopher Reid (Alabama) 1:39.42 1:39.42

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Here we go!!!!
3 years ago


3 years ago


Reply to  swimmertx
3 years ago

His 200 back time will be good enough to finish second in the 200 free.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  ooo
3 years ago

2nd? But to whomst?!

Oh that’s right…himself.

3 years ago

Shebat doesn’t A-final????

Reply to  Yabo
3 years ago

It’s definitely a somewhat bold call. On the other hand, we’ve seen that Texas swimmers aren’t immune to struggling at NCAAs if they’ve had a disjointed season training-wise (See: Joseph Schooling, 2017). That particularly shows up in the 200s – Schooling was great in short distances last year, but the 200 was a real struggle. If Shebat had a similar season training-wise (we don’t know for sure, only that he missed a number of meets and his 200 is quite a bit behind what it was last year at this time), we could see him swim solid in the 100 but miss the A final here.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
3 years ago

That’s a bit of an unfair assessment considering that Schooling was sick the day that he swam the 2 fly. A healthy Shebat even with disjointed training should be more than capable of at least finaling.

Reply to  HappyLeifEriksonDay
3 years ago

yes. He indeed was sick. from that crushing loss to Dressel the previous day.

3 years ago

Zachary Poti 1:37

farris bot 2.0
3 years ago


Steve Nolan
Reply to  farris bot 2.0
3 years ago

I may have entered a Pick ‘Em named “Dean Farris Wheel of Fortune”

If I would have been able to pick him to win every event I would have.

3 years ago

Shebat missing the a-final, that’s an interesting choice. Even with the loss of Murphy, the backstroke field seems to keep getting deeper. I guess our questions over his form will be answered thrusday.

3 years ago

Texas goes 1,2,5 with Mulcare and the almighty Dean Farris in the mix??

tea rex
3 years ago

Texas is crazy good at backstroke.

And they have a leg up in this event. The 200 strokes are tough to race on your second or third taper. Always a few people who fall off completely. Texas’ studs will be hitting their first taper.

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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