2018 Men’s NCAA Championships: Day 2 Prelims Live Recap


After an explosive opening night, the 2018 Men’s NCAA Championships resume this morning with our first prelims session.

A pair of Florida Gators will look to defend their 2017 national titles. Caeleb Dressel is the headliner – the do-everything star will try to win his fourth-straight NCAA 50 free title and challenge his own American record of 18.20. Meanwhile Mark Szaranek looks to claim sole possession of the 200 IM title after tying with now-graduated Will Licon last year. But he’ll have to battle top-seeded Hugo Gonzalez of Auburn, the breakout freshman who topped Szaranek for the SEC title a month ago.

In the 500 free, 2016 champ Townley Haas looks to bounce back for Texas after finishing second a year ago. He faces Michigan sophomore Felix Auboeckwho charged back to finish just .03 behind in this event last season.

In addition, we’ve got heats of the 200 free relay and 400 medley relay. Texas won both last year, but will be a much different lineup without Licon and Jack Conger. Last night’s 800 free relay champs NC State hold the nation’s top time in the 200 free relay with the combination of standout sprinters Justin Ress and Ryan Held, and Cal will look to #1-ranked recruit Ryan Hoffer to become a world-beater like he was in his high school days.

Indiana is the national leader in the 400 medley, and coming off a huge swim last night. In particular, anchor Blake Pieroni will look to follow up his historic 1:29 200 free with an equally-devastating 100 split. But Cal and NC State are lurking in what could be one of the closest events of the entire meet.

Keep refreshing this page for live, event-by-event updates of all the action from Minneapolis. And stay tuned to @SwimSwamLive on Twitter for even more up-to-the-second coverage.


  • NCAA Record: 1:14.08, Auburn, 2009
  • American Record: 1:15.26, Stanford, 2011
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:14.08, Auburn, 2009
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Texas (1:14.59)

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. California – 1:15.36
  2. NC State – 1:15.43
  3. Florida – 1:15.64
  4. Texas – 1:15.87
  5. USC – 1:16.05
  6. Florida State – 1:16.13
  7. Stanford – 1:16.44
  8. Michigan – 1:16.46

It was a relatively sleepy prelims session of the 200 free relay, with most of the top names rolling with safe starts and relatively few 18-low splits. The highlight was Caeleb Dressel‘s casual 17.96, which stacks up as the 6th-fastest relay split in history as well as his 6th time ever under 18 seconds. Dressel swam second for a Florida team that ultimately took 3rd despite two swimmers swimming 19s.

California rolled away with the top spot, getting a 19.07 leadoff from Justin Lynch and a trio of 18s from Pawel Sendyk (18.74), Ryan Hoffer (18.82) and Michael Jensen (18.73). Cal’s 1:15.36 was only a tenth off the American record, though they wouldn’t be eligible with the Polish-born Sendyk on the roster.

NC State went hard after the final heat, going 1:15.43 with an American roster of Ryan Held (18.87 leadoff), Justin Ress (18.52), Cobe Garcia (19.20) and Coleman Stewart (18.84). They should be at least a half-second faster tonight by swapping out Garcia for Jacob Molacek or Giovanni Izzo.

Texas was 1:15.87 with their best roster. Big 12 breakout star Tate Jackson was a little off his stellar conference time with a 19.27 leadoff, and the remaining three were 18s, with Joseph Schooling splitting 18.69. Brett Ringgold was 18.96 and John Shebat 18.95.

Others into the final will be USC (Santo Condorelli was 18.66), Florida State (Chad Mylin 18.72), Stanford (Sam Perry 19.27 leading off) and Michigan (Paul Powers 19.28 leading off).

Indiana missed the championship final by a tenth in a painful blow for their title hopes, and Auburn was 10th despite a pair of 18-second splits.

500 FREESTYLE – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Felix Auboeck, Michigan – 4:10.83
  2. Anton Ipsen, NC State – 4:11.02
  3. Townley Haas, Texas – 4:11.97
  4. Liam Egan, Stanford – 4:12.02
  5. Grant Shoults, Stanford – 4:12.12
  6. Sam Pomajevich, Texas – 4:12.46
  7. Akaram Mahmoud, South Carolina – 4:12.52
  8. Ricardo Vargas, Michigan – 4:12.87

The swimming got faster heat-by-heat in the 500 free, with the final heat featuring a showdown between Michigan’s Felix Auboeck and NC State’s Anton Ipsen that ultimately yielded the morning’s top two times. Auboeck held off a late Ipsen charge to win in 4:10.83, with Ipsen 4:11.02 for second.

From the very first heat, the Texas taper was in full effect. Freshman Sam Pomajevich, seeded dead last in the field at 4:23.48, blasted a 4:12.46 to ultimately rocket into the A final. He’ll join 2016 NCAA champ Townley Haas (3rd, 4:11.97) in the final for the Longhorns.

Haas topped Stanford’s Grant Shoults in a tight battle in the second-to-last heat, with both making the championship final. Stanford (Shoults and Liam Egan) and Michigan (Auboeck and Ricardo Vargas) will also have two swimmers in the A final. South Carolina’s Akaram Mahmoud is the other A finalist after winning the first circle-seeded heat but falling almost out of the top 8 over the final two heats.

Cal freshman Sean Grieshop just missed the A heat with a 9th-place 4:12.94. That’s a bit of a blow to Cal’s scoring hopes, but not a huge one as Grieshop was seeded 12th coming in. That also constitutes a lifetime-best by more than a second for Grieshop, who had somewhat plateaued before joining Cal as a blue-chip recruit.

In terms of team points, Texas is in shape to load up with 2 A finalists. Cal has one B finalist. NC State has one A finalist and Florida ultimately finished with no scorers despite five entrants.

200 IM – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Andrew Seliskar, Cal – 1:40.40
  2. Abrahm Devine, Stanford – 1:40.78
  3. Andreas Vazaios, NC State – 1:40.93
  4. Jan Switkowski, Florida – 1:41.23
  5. Mark Szaranek, Florida – 1:41.62
  6. Vini Lanza, Indiana – 1:42.05
  7. Ian Finnerty, Indiana – 1:42.08
  8. Gunnar Bentz, Georgia – 1:42.13

A spririted Pac-12 battle between Andrew Seliskar of Cal and Abrahm Devine of Stanford in the first circle-seeded heat highlighted heats of the 200 IM, an event that was even faster than last year in contrast with the 500 free.

Seliskar was 1:40.40, blowing by Devine on the breaststroke leg and roaring home with the 9th fastest performance in history. Devine was 1:40.78, just outside the top 10 all-time.

NC State’s Andreas Vazaios put up a big swim in the final heat, going 1:40.93 for third overall. Florida and Indiana both qualified a pair of swimmers, Florida’s duo in the penultimate heat and IU’s in the final heat. And Georgia’s Gunnar Bentz made the A final here coming off a collarbone injury that cost him much of this regular season.

Top-seeded Hugo Gonzalez struggled to a 1:42.78, adding two seconds and falling to 15th. While Cal got burned with the 9th-place spot in the 500, Texas returned the favor in the IM, with last year’s championship finalist Jonathan Roberts finishing 9th in 1:42.23.. He’ll be Texas’s only scorer in the event (Ryan Harty was 17th in a tough set of breaks for Texas) while Cal has 1 in the A and 3 in the B.

50 FREE – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel, Florida – 18.11
  2. Ryan Held, NC State – 18.69
  3. Bowe Becker, Minnesota – 18.88
  4. Blake Pieroni, Indiana – 18.93
  5. Pawel Sendyk, Cal – 18.95
  6. Zach Apple, Auburn – 18.97
  7. Robert Howard, Alabama – 19.00
  8. Ryan Hoffer, Cal – 19.04

Caeleb Dressel flashed his new top speed this morning, establishing a new American record with a blistering 18.11. that’s more than a half-second faster than anyone else in the field and three tenths faster than anyone else in history.

NC State’s Ryan Held and Minnesota’s Bowe Becker held their top seeds in their heats, winning in 18.69 and 18.88, respectively.  From the early heats, Indiana’s record-smasher from last night Blake Pieroni moved into the A final with an 18.93.

6 of the top 8 broke the 19 second barrier, with Cal’s Pawel Sendyk (18.95) and Auburn’s Zach Apple (18.97) joining that group. Alabama’s Robert Howard was 19 flat, with Cal freshman Ryan Hoffer making his team the only one with two A finalists in the splash-and-dash.

A couple big names missed out: last year’s third-place finisher Joseph Schooling was 19.20 and only scraped into the B final by .01. Michigan’s Paul Powers was an A finalist last year, but fell to 9th in 19.08. NC State’s breakout star Justin Ress was a tenth off his ACC time to take 10th.

In the team battle, Cal holds two more A finalists, while Texas only has 2 in the B heat. (Tate Jackson missed the scoring heat by .03). Florida has its one scorer (and likely winner), while NC State has one up and one down and Indiana has one up.

400 MEDLEY RELAY  – Prelims

  • NCAA record: 2:59.22, Texas, 2017
  • American record: 3:01.51, California, 2017
  • U.S. Open record: 2:59.22, Texas, 2017
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Texas (2:59.22)

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Indiana – 3:01.87
  2. NC State – 3:02.70
  3. Cal – 3:02.77
  4. USC – 3:03.02
  5. Louisville – 3:03.68
  6. Georgia – 3:03.70
  7. Stanford – 3:03.84
  8. Florida – 3:04.05

Indiana, still doubted by many after holding the top incoming seed, silenced the doubters at least temporarily with a 3:01.87 to lead all teams by almost a second. Ian Finnerty was 50.47 to crush the breaststroke leg for IU, with Vini Lanza splitting 44.97 on fly, Blake Pieroni 40.95 free and Gabriel Fantoni 45.48 on backstroke for the Hoosiers.

NC State is second, but didn’t even use its best order. Andreas Vazaios was a quick 45.00 on back, but the team used Daniel Graber for 52.0 on breast and moved top breaststroker Jacob Molacek to free, where he was 41.24. Coleman Stewart was 44.38 on fly, and NC State didn’t use either of its top two talents, Justin Ress or Ryan Held.

Cal sits third in 3:02.77. Connor Hoppe had the field’s best breaststroke split at 50.45, and Daniel Carr (45.43), Zheng Quah (45.06 fly) and Justin Lynch (41.83) combined to put themselves in the title hunt for tonight.

Maye the biggest news was defending NCAA champs Texas missing the A final despite swimming arguably their best lineup. Backstroker John Shebat was only 45.6, about a second slower than he was last year, and the team used a surprise breaststroker – Sam Stewart – who was only 52.64. Flyer Joseph Schooling faded over the back half to split just 44.7 and Brett Ringgold‘s 41.5 anchor wasn’t enough to keep Texas in the top 8. They took 9th in 3:04.56, two tenths off their season-best.

USC got a big backstroke leg from freshman Robert Glinta (45.00) to power to 4th overall. Louisville is 5th after a drop of almost two seconds. Georgia had its second huge relay drop, going 3:03.70 to take 6th, thanks to a field-best backstroke from Javier Acevedo, whose 44.74 ranks just outside the top 10 all-time.

Stanford is in with a 3:03.84, getting a 45.0 from backstroker Ryan Dudzinski and a 44.8 from flyer Andrew Liang. Florida snuck into the A final despite a brutal 53.0 breaststroke split, with Caeleb Dressel anchoring in 40.27 – that’s .07 off the fastest 100 free split in history, set by Dressel last year. Jan Switkowski was 44.3 on fly in a huge back half for Florida.

1-Meter Diving – Prelims

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Michael Hixon, IU – 408.20
  2. James Connor, IU – 397.30
  3. Steele Johnson, PUR – 396.75
  4. Juan Hernandez, LSU – 389.05
  5. Colin Zeng, TN – 387.70
  6. Grayson Campbell, TX – 379.00
  7. Jordan Windle, TX – 374.65
  8. Sam Thornton, 370.75

Indiana and Texas should roll in some big diving points tonight with 3 scorers each, and IU sits 1st and 2nd coming out of 1-meter diving prelims.

Michael Hixon is first and James Connor second for the Hoosiers, and with Andrew Capobianco currently 9th, IU will get three scorers tonight. The Hoosiers should be a top-5 team in overall points, with potential to push even further, especially after a stellar 800 free relay and a 400 medley that sits first heading into tonight’s finals.

Texas also has a trio of divers. Grayson Campbell is 6th and Jordan Windle 7th, and they’ll both compete in the A final tonight. Jacob Cornish just snuck into 16th and will dive in the B final this afternoon.

That’s a big boost to Texas, which had a rough morning in the pool and is now seeded to lose about 55 points to Cal in swimming tonight. Texas should earn in the ballpark of 25-30 diving points tonight, helping mitigate that deficit.

Indiana, meanwhile, is seeded third in swimming points tonight, about 47 behind Cal. They’re seeded now to score 46 diving points, which means they could actually find themselves leading the meet by the end of tonight.

Purdue’s Steele Johnson won this event last year, topping Hixon and Connor. Johnson is currently 3rd.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

199 Comment threads
311 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
140 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

So excited to see what all of these guys have in store for us today! We are not worthy…



A non-e mouse

Heeeerrreee we goooooo!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »