2018 Men’s NCAA Championships: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap


It’s been a whirlwind of a week in Minneapolis, and the storm isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Five teams are within 16 and a half points for the NCAA crown at the moment, with today’s meet-high 7-event prelims session holding perhaps the most valuable key to securing a team championship.

Caeleb Dressel will swim out of an early heat of the 100 fly, looking to break his own American record after twice shattering the storied 18-second barrier in the 50 free last night. In the 200 free, Indiana’s Blake Pieroni will look to better his American record 1:29.63 from Wednesday night, while two-time defending champ Townley Haas looks to challenge the 1:30 barrier himself.

The other three events don’t return their 2017 champions and feel shockingly wide open. The top 400 IM seed is Auburn’s Hugo Gonzalezbut he’s had a rough go of it so far this week. Florida’s Mark Szaranek was third in the 200 IM, while Andrew Seliskar of Cal is the top returner from last year.

In the 100 breast, Ian Finnerty is the national leader and had the fastest 100 breast split on last night’s 400 medley relay. But he’s got the world behind him and closing fast, including hometown favorite Conner McHugh of Minnesota, Cal’s Connor Hoppe and Finnerty’s own teammate Levi Brock

And in the 100 back, last year’s runner-up John Shebat looked like the man to beat a year ago, but struggled mightily in the relay on Thursday morning. That’s opened up the door for NC State’s Coleman Stewart (the fastest 100 backstroker on the medley relay last night at 44.74) along with Georgia’s Javier Acevedo (who was 44.90 on last night’s relay) and Grand Canyon’s Mark Nikolaev (who was 44.71 earlier this season).

Here are the top backstrokers at this meet so far based on 400 medley relay leadoff legs from prelims and finals:

We’ll also have the 3-meter diving competition along with heats of the 200 medley relay. Florida is the national leader (with a chance of an even wackier freestyle split from Dressel), but will have to battle stellar groups from California and Texas.

Meanwhile the top of the team points is an absolute mess. Qualifying A and B final scorers in this morning’s finals could make one team the clear-cut favorite going into the final day, but failing to earn scoring slots could very well sink one of the 5 (!) teams still in title contention. Here’s a quick look at the scores as of last night:

  1. Indiana – 169
  2. NC State – 165
  3. Texas – 159
  4. Florida – 154
  5. California – 152.5

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.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Andrew Seliskar, Cal – 3:37.84
  2. Jonathan Roberts, Texas – 3:38.64
  3. Gunnar Bentz, Georgia – 3:38.90
  4. Jay Litherland, Georgia – 3:38.92
  5. Abrahm Devine, Stanford – 3:39.29
  6. Nick Thorne, Arizona – 3:39.39
  7. Charlie Swanson, Michigan – 3:39.41
  8. Brandonn Almeida, South Carolina – 3:39.52

It was a lightning-fast 400 IM this morning. Last year, 7 of the top 8 qualifiers broke 3:40. This year, a dozen swimmers broke that barrier as it took a 3:39.52 just to make the championship heat.

Cal’s Andrew Seliskar took the top spot as he did in the 200 IM yesterday. His 3:37.84 is the top time by eight tenths of a second. Three of the next four times actually came out of the last heat before the circle seeds. Texas’s Jonathan Roberts was 3:38.64, Georgia’s Gunnar Bentz 3:38.90 and Stanford’s Abrahm Devine 3:39.29. It took until the last heat for Georgia’s Jay Litherland to split that trio with a 3:38.92.

A brutally tight finish in the middle circle-seeded heat saw Arizona’s Nick Thorne rocket from 4th to 1st over the final 50 – he now sits 6th. Michigan’s Charlie Swanson also got in from that heat, but Stanford’s Curtis Ogren and Florida’s Mark Szaranek both missed the top 8.

South Carolina’s Brandonn Almeida, a long course junior world champ and former junior world record-holder for Brazil, rounds out a stellar A final in 3:39.52.

Top-seeded Hugo Gonzalez of Auburn added ten seconds and missed scoring entirely, fading to 30th in 3:46.19.

In the team battle, Cal put one into each final, but freshman Sean Grieshop missed scoring in 17th place. Indiana has no scorers. NC State has one B finalist. Texas has one A finalist. Florida has one B finalist.

 100 BUTTERFLY – Prelims

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel, Florida – 44.37
  2. Vini Lanza, Indiana – 44.66
  3. Joseph Scholing, Texas – 44.97
  4. Ryan Held, NC State – 45.06
  5. Jan Switkowski, Florida – 45.09
  6. Justin Lynch, Cal – 45.13
  7. Matthew Josa, Cal – 45.23
  8. Ryan Hoffer, Cal – 45.29

Coming in with just the 47th seed, American record-holder Caeleb Dressel crushed the first heat, going 44.37 to take the eventual top seed. Dressel was out in 20.3 and clearly shut it down over the final 50, and should be in the 43s or better tonight.

It was a huge event for Cal, with three swimmers making the A final. Justin Lynch (45.13), Matthew Josa (45.23) and Ryan Hoffer (45.29) are all into the championship heat with nowhere to go but up tonight. In addition, Zheng Quah is in the B heat.

Meanwhile point-leader Indiana should be in good shape in this event with Vini Lanza sitting second. He’s one of three men to break 45 this morning. The other was Texas’s Joseph Schoolingthe 2015 and 2016 NCAA champ in this event. He was 44.97 and will be Texas’s only scorer.

NC State got Ryan Held into the A final in fourth, plus Coleman Stewart in the B.

So far this morning, Cal has set themselves up best with 4 A finalists and 2 B. Florida has 2 As and a B. Texas has 2 As, NC State 1 A and 2 Bs and Indiana just one A.

200 FREESTYLE – Prelims

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Townley Haas, Texas – 1:31.78
  2. Zach Apple, Auburn – 1:32.20
  3. Blake Pieroni, Indiana – 1:32.40
  4. Dylan Carter, USC – 1:32.30
  5. Dean Farris, Harvard – 1:32.41
  6. Khader Baqlah, Florida – 1:32.53
  7. Mohamed Samy, Indiana – 1:32.76
  8. Bryce Mefford, Cal – 1:32.84

A stacked final heat yielded four of the top five times, with two-time defending champ Townley Haas of Texas winning in a 1:31.78 that leads all prelims swimmers by half a second. Auburn’s Zach Apple was second in this heat, showing great improvement to his range after scoring in the B final last year with just a 1:33.3. He was 1:32.2 this morning.

Third and fourth in that heat were USC’s Dylan Carter (1:32.30) and Harvard’s Dean Farris (1:32.41), who now sit fourth and fifth overall. In the middle is newly-minted American record-holder Blake Pieroniwho went 1:32.40 to win his heat.

Florida’s Khader Baqlah, Indiana’s Mohamed Samy and Cal’s Bryce Mefford all made an A final that includes 7 of 8 swimmers from the top 5 contending teams.

Texas should get a much-needed boost in this event, with 1 A finalist and 2 scorers in the B heat. Indiana has two A finalists. Meanwhile Cal and Florida each have one A finalist, and NC State won’t have any scorers after 6-seed Justin Ress scratched. On the other hand, that means Ress is eligible to swim all five relays, which could make NC State a big factor in tonight’s 200 medley relay.

100 BREASTSTROKE – Prelims

  • NCAA record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 50.03
  • American record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 50.03
  • U.S. Open record: Caeleb Dressel (Florida), 2018, 50.03
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Will Licon (Texas), 50.68

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Ian Finnerty, Indiana – 50.47
  2. Connor Hoppe, Cal – 51.78
  3. Carsten Vissering, USC – 51.87
  4. Alex Evdokimov, Cornell – 51.88
  5. Conner McHugh, Minnesota – 52.05
  6. Mauro Castillo, Texas A&M – 52.14
  7. Levi Brock, Indiana – 52.24
  8. Evgenii Somov, Louisville – 52.28

(Probably) Sick of hearing about his previous NCAA time additions, Indiana’s Ian Finnerty blasted the fourth-fastest 100 breaststroke ever swum this morning, going 50.47 to take over the top spot by well over a second.

It’ll be a big point-scoring event for IU, with Levi Brock sneaking into the top 8 at 52.24.

Cal’s Connor Hoppe is the 2-seed at 51.78, and joining him under 52 were USC’s Carsten Vissering and Cornell’s Alex Evdokimov. Swimming for the home crowd, Minnesota’s Conner McHugh pushed Hoppe in his heat, finishing second in 52.05 and taking 5th into tonight’s final.

Texas A&M’s Mauro Castillo and Louisville’s Evgenii Somov join the A final. Somov is just .01 out of what would be a three-way tie – behind him, teammate Carlos Claverie and Michigan’s Jeremy Babinet are tied for 9th at 52.29.

This might be the event that turns the meet tonight. 3 of 5 contending teams got zero scorers in this race, while Indiana put 2 into the A final and Cal put 1 into the A and 1 into the B.

Current running totals of A/B finalists have Cal leading at 6/3, followed by Indiana’s 5/0, Florida’s 3/1, Texas’s 3/2 and NC State’s 1/2.

100 BACKstroke – Prelims

  • NCAA record: Ryan Murphy (2017) – 43.49
  • American record: Ryan Murphy (2017) – 43.49
  • U.S. Open record: Ryan Murphy (2017) – 43.49
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Ryan Murphy — 43.99

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Robert Glinta, USC – 44.99
  2. Andreas Vazaios, NC State / John Shebat, Texas – 45.00
  3. Ralf Tribuntsov, USC – 45.03
  4. Nicolas Albiero, Louisville – 45.05
  5. Anton Loncar, Denver – 45.11
  6. Coleman Stewart, NC State – 45.16
  7. Austin Katz, Texas – 45.21

It could be a wild 100 back final tonight, with the top 8 separated by just .22 seconds heading into the final. USC’s Robert Glinta was 44.99, remarkably close to the 45.00 he put up on the medley relay yesterday. Behind him, NC State’s Andreas Vazaios tied with Texas’s John Shebat at 45.00. Shebat looked much better than his 45.6 from the medley relay yesterday, though he still seemed to drop off a bit towards the end of the race.

USC’s Ralf Tribuntsov was 45.03 to give the Trojans two A finalists. Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero made the A final, his decision to scratch the 100 fly paying off. Denver also got Anton Loncar into the A final at 45.11.

NC State’s Coleman Stewart was the top seed coming in, and while he won his heat, he only wound up 7th, almost missing the A final entirely. Texas will get a second championship finalist with freshman Austin Katz going 45.21.

That’s a big event for Texas, with 2 A finalists. Same goes for NC State (2 up) while Indiana and Cal have one down each. Florida has no scorers.

Indiana’s medley relay ace Gabriel Fantoni was about a half-second off his relay time, going 45.95 and missing the B final in 17th.

A quick look at the ups and downs heading into the relay, in which all five contending teams should have realistic shots to make the A final (based on our quick math):

  1. Cal – 6/4
  2. Texas – 5/2
  3. Indiana – 5/1
  4. NC State – 3/2
  5. Florida – 3/1

200 MEDLEY RELAY – Prelims

  • NCAA Record: 1:21.54, Texas, 2017
  • American Record: 1:22.40, California, 2015
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:21.54, Texas, 2017
  • 2017 NCAA Champion: Texas (1:21.54)

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. USC – 1:22.76
  2. California – 1:23.20
  3. Florida – 1:23.26
  4. Indiana – 1:23.26
  5. Texas – 1:23.28
  6. Tennessee – 1:23.64
  7. NC State – 1:23.66
  8. Louisville – 1:23.79

USC blasted a big 1:22.76 this morning, a statement swim that puts them #1 in the rankings for tonight. Behind them are four of the top teams competing for the team title: Cal, Florida, Indiana and Texas.

USC had all four legs rank in the top 4 relay splits for their stroke. Ralf Tribuntsov‘s 20.93 was third for backstrokers, Carsten Vissering‘s 23.38 third for breast, Dylan Carter‘s 19.97 fourth for flyers and Santo Condorelli‘s 18.48 second among freestylers (and first among mere mortals).

Cal got one of the field’s best breaststroke splits from Connor Hoppe to go 1:23.20 for second. Flyer Justin Lynch was the second-fastest in the field at 19.81 on fly.

Florida got the fastest 50 free split in recorded history out of Caeleb Dresselwho anchored in 17.30 to pull his team to third despite lackluster rankings in the other three strokes. Indiana, last night’s 400 medley champs, sit fourth after Ian Finnerty was 23.27 on breast and Vini Lanza paced all flyers with a 19.76.

Texas got a big 18.58 from anchor Brett Ringgold to take fifth, with backstroker John Shebat holding his own at 21.07 on the leadoff. Meanwhile Tennessee made the final based on a wicked 22.76 breast split from Peter Stevens.

NC State didn’t use Justin Ress this morning, though they should use him tonight. They were 7th, getting an 18.7 from anchor Jacob Molacek, who should move to breast tonight and let Ress take over free. Andreas Vazaios led all backstrokers at 20.79.

Louisville is the last team into the A final, getting an 18.60 from anchor Andrej Barna and a 21.00 leadoff out of Nicolas Albiero.

A DQ to Arizona averted a swim-off, as Minnesota and Notre Dame tied for 16th prior to Arizona’s DQ. The Wildcats got nipped on false start from their flyer Chatham Dobbs, who otherwise had the field’s best split at 19.51.

A few of the other top splits from this morning:


  • 20.79 back – Andreas Vazaois, NC State
  • 20.92 back – Paul Unger, Utah
  • 20.93 back – Ralf Tribuntsov, USC
  • 21.00 back – Nicolas Albiero, Louisville
  • 21.03 back – Daniel Carr, Cal
  • 21.07 back – John Shebat, Texas



  • 19.76 fly – Vini Lanza, Indiana
  • 19.81 fly – Justin Lynch, Cal
  • 19.89 fly – Andrew Liang, Stanford
  • 19.97 fly – Dylan Carter, USC


  • 17.30 free – Caeleb Dressel, Florida
  • 18.48 free – Santo Condorelli, USC
  • 18.55 free – Kyle Decoursey, Tennessee
  • 18.58 free – Brett Ringgold, Texas
  • 18.61 free – Andrej Barna, Louisville
  • 18.68 free – Bowe Becker, Minnesota
  • 18.72 free – Jacob Molacek, NC State

3-Meter Diving – Prelims

Top 8 qualifiers:

  1. Colin Zeng, Tennessee – 460.70
  2. Michael Hixon, Indiana – 454.85
  3. Steele Johnson, Purdue – 444.85
  4. Andrew Capobianco, Indiana – 440.90
  5. Grayson Campbell, Texas – 438.45
  6. Jordan Windle, Texas – 431.15
  7. Juan Hernandez, LSU – 428.20
  8. James Connor, Indiana – 419.15

For the second day in a row, Indiana and Texas will get big boosts from their divers. Indiana has two of the top four qualifiers and three in the top eight, while Texas has two in the championship final.

Indiana will have Michael Hixon (2nd) and Andrew Capobianco (4th) in the national title hunt, and James Connor (8th) snuck into the A final as well.

Meanwhile Texas will get Grayson Campbell (5th) and Jordan Windle (6th) into tonight’s A flight.

None of the other NCAA title-contending teams will have a scoring diver. Of the current top 10, only USC has a scoring diver: Dashiell Enos, who sits 15th and will compete in the consolation final this afternoon.

Defending NCAA champ Steele Johnson sits fourth. The top qualifier was Tennessee’s Colin Zengwho scored about six more points than Hixon in prelims.

Full diving results

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j pine
2 years ago

Was excited for Schooling v Dressel, but Schooling looks out of itat this meet. I still wanna be surprised!!!

Reply to  j pine
2 years ago

its basically dressel vs time clock.

j pine
Reply to  Swimming4silver
2 years ago

Nah we wouldn’t really know until prelims. Texas does get better as the meet progresses

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  j pine
2 years ago


Reply to  Swimming4silver
2 years ago

Feel sorry for the guys in the slow heat with Dressel. May finish 5+ seconds behind the heat winner.

Reply to  j pine
2 years ago

If Schooling keeps up the way he’s been, he might not even manage 2nd

Reply to  Blackflag82
2 years ago

Held, Lanza and others might push Schooling even out of A Final if he sleeps..

Reply to  Rafael
2 years ago

True enough…what do you think it’ll take to make the a final?

Reply to  Blackflag82
2 years ago

Sub-45 I think.. or 45 flat low

Reply to  Rafael
2 years ago

I’m thinking it’ll take under 44.9. given the fact that pretty much all of the players are from one of the schools still in contention I could see it being a lights out fast prelims to insure a spot in the A final and the points that come with it.

Reply to  j pine
2 years ago

If Schooling can get 2nd, i am already very happy for him. But i hope he can swim his best. Both Dressel and Schooling are arguably the best scy in 100 fly.

Reply to  Buona
2 years ago

They’re the only current ncaa swimmers under 44 of course they’re the best 2 it’s not even in question. The problem is Joe’s last 2 years worth of declining swims! Hope he’s in good health to put up a fight

Reply to  Pabs
2 years ago

Declining swims? He swam a best time last year…

2 Cents
Reply to  j pine
2 years ago

Dressel will win. Held has the edge on 2nd, with Switkowski and Coleman fighting for 3rd. That leaves Schooling and Lanza fighting for 5th.

Now, part of me thinks Schooling was holding back in the relays, but at the same time he has shown to be a very mental swimmer, meaning when he is confident he swims very well, when he is not or has been rattled (ie by the 17.63) he does not do well. If I am predicting now, as opposed to before the meet… I do not predict Schooling in my top 3 for the 100 Fly.

2 Cents
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Good news, ESPN covered Dressel’s 50 from yesterday. Bad news, you have to click on the “…” at the top of the main page, then click on “Olympic sports” then scroll past 2 articles about Bolt and 1 giant picture of LeBron James, and then you can see it. Oh and more bad news, it is a video of his PRELIM SWIM… the 18.11. None of his 17s…. And this network is coming in to cover and broadcast tonight and tomorrow night??? They put wrestling on live, and put corn hole as a feature on ESPN3 during the women’s meet…but really say nothing about the 17.63?!?!? Are you kidding me???!?! I guess it’s not a shock since they also dont… Read more »

Right Dude Here
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Now this deserves a laugh react.

2 Cents
Reply to  Right Dude Here
2 years ago

Why? Because I was wrong about Stewart? Or because I had Schooling fighting for 5th? He still wont finish top 3 and I think Dressel, Held then Switkowski is going to be your 1-3 tonight. So let Lanza and Schooling fight for 4th, not 5th.

Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

If Conger just posted a 51.00 LCM a few weeks ago, then his training partner def going 43 today.

If past repeats itself, Schooling will blow 3-5th place away.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

His 200 fly will be a disaster.

Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

This is going to be yet another amazing swimming day. So is there anyone on the ground there in Minneapolis who could approach the broadcasters about not leaving the scoreboard up during awards presentations & the like? Have not been able to reach anyone by phone to ask them to actually show us more than the bare bones minimum of the race & then cut away to the scoreboard & more talk. Even though the guys are on the whole good, far better than at OSU last week for Women’s D1 NC2A’s, we’d like to SEE things too. Thanks – much appreciated.

College swimmer
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

Finals tonight and tomorrow night are on ESPN3 and they usually broadcast the awards ceremony (up close and personal).

running start to touch backstroke flags
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
2 years ago

Agreed. I would have loved to have seen Lochte yesterday passing out the awards and goofing around. You could hear the commentary that he was lined up as the 9th place finisher getting pictures with the actual swimmers as if he had just raced. His interviews are so dry even though we know he is a big goof, that we love. Would have been great to see his lighter side with other swimmers, outside of an interview. Not sure their video is set up to leave the blue screen of death because that is something they would have already been doing for viewers, you’d think. But maybe they can nudge the camera guy to swivel over to podium… the warm… Read more »

2 years ago

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. JS went 39 in practice with a drag suit after pancakes It was monotonous and having a stomach virus while just got back in the water in January.

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

*just got back in the water in March – fixed that for you

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

Flew back from Singapore to Minneapolis (direct flight, no meals on board – just a light snack of pretzels and soda) the night before the meet as well.

Reply to  Swimmer
2 years ago

I was confused for a moment. I thought you were talking about John Shebat, and I was thinking “since when are we making John Shebat jokes… I thought we only make Joe Schooling and Dean Farris jokes.”

Reply to  Sophie
2 years ago

lol that was a funny one

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 …

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