2018 M. NCAAs: After None In 2017, Five Top-2 Seeds Missed The A-Final


Perhaps nowhere in swimming do seed times mean less than at the NCAA Championships. If a team tapers more for the conference championships, they may come in with some of the top seed times, but will they be able to pull off the double taper successfully? On the other hand, a team like Texas who doesn’t really rest at all prior to NCAAs may come in with times that don’t reflect their ability at all. For example, Townley Haas came into the 500 free seeded 11th despite winning the title in 2016 and finishing as the runner-up in 2017. He won his second title in the event this year. We also saw three of the 400 IM A-finalists come from a non-circle-seeded heat, meaning they were seeded outside the top-24.

Despite the discrepancy sometimes in seed times, it’s still rare for a top seeded swimmer to miss the championship final at NCAAs. No #1 or #2 seeds missed an A-final at all at the 2017 championships, with #3 seed Ian Finnerty the top seeded swimmer to miss out (17th in 100 breast). 2016 had two #1 seeds miss out, with Clark Smith of Texas placing 21st in the 500 free and Joe Patching of Auburn tying for 9th in the 200 IM. #2 seeds Anders Nielsen (11th in 200 free) and Finnerty (13th in 100 breast) also missed out. Additionally, Smith finished 12th in the 1650 free (timed final) after entering with the top time.

This season saw even more top seeded swimmers miss, with a total of five inside the top-2 missing the A-final. That stat largely comes from Auburn freshman Hugo Gonzalez, who had a breakout meet at the SEC Championships winning the 400 IM in 3:35.76 and finishing as the runner-up in the 200 IM (1:40.67) to Caeleb Dressel (who obviously didn’t swim the event at NCAAs, making Gonzalez the top seed coming in). However, he wasn’t able to remain in peak form for NCAAs, placing 15th (in prelims) in the 200 IM and 30th in the 400 IM after coming in with the top time. He also missed a second swim in the 200 back after coming in ranked 3rd.

Along with Gonzalez, there were three #2 seeds to miss, however all three did get into the consolation final. Fynn Minuth of South Carolina ended up 12th in the 500 free prelims, Mark Szaranek of Florida fell to 11th in a very fast 400 IM prelim, and Grand Canyon’s Mark Nikolaev missed out on the 100 back in 9th, despite being just three tenths slower than the top qualifier. The 3 & 4 seeds Gabriel Fantoni of Indiana and Javier Acevedo of Georgia also missed the A-final.

Take a look at the highest seed to miss the A-final in the other individual events, with their prelim placing in parentheses:

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2 years ago

What happened to schooling?

Tea rex
Reply to  Swimfish87
2 years ago

He couldn’t close the 200 fly faster than Ella Eastin (28.51 to 28.71 at NCAAs)

2 years ago

Is Hugo injured or ill? Ouch a very disappointing meet for him and the AU team!

Reply to  I-DA-HO
2 years ago

Could be focused on Spanish Nationals coming up and qualifying for Europeans.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

A possible explanation. Thanks.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Rumor also had it that he’s getting a ton of pressure from the Spanish National team directors to leave the US. Getting threats and stuff. Poor guy had a lot to deal with in the last few weeks.

Reply to  Stoooop
2 years ago

We haven’t heard about any threats, but we did hear that they pulled his funding.

OHS Cougar
2 years ago

Also… Shebat was 31st in the 200 back and ended up 2nd.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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