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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4 years ago

I feel like Seliskar has Jack Conger syndrome at NCAAs. One of the most versatile swimmers at the meet but can’t get a win. Hope he gets fired up from this 400 IM and gets after that 200 breast

40 Flat
4 years ago

Now that Szaranek is in the B final I am really pushing for Seliskar to get his first NCAA title, also, does anybody know if it was actually Szaranek and not Switkowski swimming fly on Florida’s 2 medley this morning?

Reply to  40 Flat
4 years ago

Probably because they’re saving Switkowski for the 400 free relay

Breastroke is the best stroke
4 years ago

Blair Bish Choked

muddy canary
4 years ago

Holy smokes, what a morning. Maybe no lightning fast swims (aside from certain medley splits and apple in the 200 fr), but the points game is so close.

Right Dude Here
4 years ago

Texas uses the Schooling breaststroke gambit on the relay.

It works.

Reply to  Right Dude Here
4 years ago

Schooling breaststroke not too bad.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Buona
4 years ago

He ought to drop fly.

Steve Nolan
4 years ago

Florida might very well go from last to first on Dressel’s leg.

wild Bill
4 years ago

Dressel spilt – 17.30!

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  wild Bill
4 years ago

It’s that serious groin injury.

4 years ago

19.51 50 fly split for Chatham Dobbs from Arizona?!?!?! Is that correct? Can anyone confirm?? If it is legal is that the fastest 50 fly split ever??? Good lord that’s fast

Sean Sullivan
Reply to  Buckeyeboy
4 years ago

Schooling has been 19.3

Reply to  Buckeyeboy
4 years ago

He also jumped by .10 so yeah…

Reply to  Buckeyeboy
4 years ago

he jumped -0.10

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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