2019 M NCAA Previews: Four Freshmen Gunning for 100 BR Runner-Up



History has already been made in the men’s 100 breast when Ian Finnerty became the first man to break 50 seconds in the 100 breast at the 2018 NCAA Championships. As a graduating senior, Finnerty is the obvious favorite to repeat as champion. The big question for Finnerty is, ‘can he go faster?’

Looking at past meets, Finnerty typically swims well in finals. In 2018, Finnerty dropped a full second from prelims to swim his American record of 49.69. At Big Tens this year, Finnerty did gain from prelims to finals, but just a tenth. However, that should not be an indicator of his upcoming NCAA swims. With the clock as Finnerty’s only bold competitor, he could be on the path for another record-breaking spree.

Among the wide-open field for second is USC’s Carsten Vissering, who took third at the 2018 NCAA meet. Vissering comes in also as the 2019 Pac-12 champ in the 100 breast. Also in the field behind Vissering is the Pac-12 runner-up, freshman Reece Whitley. When the pair raced at Pac-12s, Vissering was able to pull away from Whitley in the back half of the race. The other difference from Vissering and Whitley is that Vissering has been sub-51, twice in fact. As a freshman, Whitley does present uncertainty as a college rookie. But, with much the experience Whitley has under his belt pre-Cal, he should be up for the challenge.

Another freshman that was runner-up to a senior this year was Minnesota’s Max McHugh, who finished right behind Finnerty at Big Tens. In his collegiate entrance, McHugh could impress as his HS best was 51.59. From there, McHugh sky-rocketed when he swam the fastest-ever 50 breast split at the 2018 Hawkeye Invite. At Big Tens, McHugh split 22.98 in the 200 medley relay, which still beat out Finnerty’s 23.03 split. While the 100 breast is a different ballgame, McHugh has proven he has the sprints.

But behind McHugh are two freshmen who have had massive time improvements from HS to college. Charlie Scheinfeld (Texas) and Zane Backes (Indiana) both came into college with 53s in their 100 breast. At their respective conference meets, both Scheinfeld and Backes dropped almost 2 seconds from their HS bests to reach their 51 mid/high seeds. What could make or break these collegiate debut swimmers is whether or not they can continue their momentum going into NCAAs.

Among the rookies is South Carolina swimmer Itay Goldfaden, the SEC champ in this event. Goldfaden got great racing practice from the SEC final with his incredibly close race against runner-up Caleb Hicks (Missouri). Goldfaden and Hicks were separated by 0.07s off the start and only 0.01s in their second 50 splits. When analyzing just how close the race was, Hicks could easily tweak one little detail to gain back those hundredths off Goldfaden and make himself a big contender.

The third member of the senior-dominant top 8 from 2018 is Louisville’s Evgenii Somov, who is the 11th seed on the pysch that is sub-52 (51.90). With the wave of change the 100 breast has gotten, from graduating seniors and faster freshmen, Somov looks to be moving well with the flow. Last year, Somov’s prelims swim of 52.28 was what it took to make the A-final. This year, the #8 seed on the psychs is 51.76 (Pellini). As the ACC champ in this event, Somov is just as qualified as the top 8 seeds to have a shot in the A-final this year.

Top 8 Picks:

Place Swimmer Team Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Ian Finnerty Indiana 50.60 49.69
2 Reece Whitley Cal 51.38 51.16
3 Carsten Vissering USC 50.78 50.78
4 Max McHugh Minnesota 51.08 51.08
5 Charlie Scheinfeld Texas 51.41 51.41
6 Itay Goldfaden South Carolina 51.72 51.72
7 Caleb Hicks Missouri 51.80 51.80
8 Zane Backes Indiana 51.73 51.73

Dark Horse: Jacob Montague has also been sub-52 in his career (51.80), but hasn’t touched that time since 2018 Big Tens.  At the NCAA meet last year, Montague barely got into the B-final and finished in 16th with a 52.85. Looking at Montague’s top-3 times in this event, they were all from Big Tens or midseason. With that in mind, his #33 seed time of 52.65 could be an indicator that Montague has not been fully rested yet and is hungry for his rightful spot in the A-final.

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Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

Picking Whitley over Vissering is a bold call. I think the senior Vissering will be second and close to breaking 50. I think Finnerty can be 49.4

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

I agree. Also McHugh should be ahead of Reece

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

last time reece and vissering faced off as senior vs freshman was in high school at Easterns I believe. Whitley crushed him.

Reply to  Yabo
2 years ago

I mean if you don’t count the usc cal duel meet or pac 12s

2 years ago

I know he’s a freshman, but Charlie is in his home pool and will probably be motivated to score some points for Texas. I don’t think he’ll win, but he should drop time and push Whitley for third.

Reply to  Swammer
2 years ago

There was also no reason for him to be rested for big 12s since he made A cuts at mid season.

Reply to  Swammer
2 years ago

Wait, who’s Charlie?

2 years ago

I’m gonna say Vissering ahead of Whitley. Whitley is more of a 200 guy in my opinion

Captain Ahab
2 years ago

.50.67 should win it.

2 years ago

Scheinfeld 50.99 3rd

Reply to  EasySpeed
2 years ago

50.99 won’t get third. More like 4th or 5th.

2 years ago

What about the South Afrikaner who got to TN in January? He is pretty fast and probably did not shave yet. If he wears the Coonskin Cap with pride the freshman HE-MAN Vol could do it!?

Reply to  googoodoll
2 years ago

It is 4 laps. Tenn breastrokers have tough time with 4 laps

Captain Ahab
Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Correction 4 lengths. 4 laps would equal 200 yards.

Reply to  googoodoll
2 years ago


JP input is too short
2 years ago

I think Vissering will be closer to Finnerty than either of them are to 3rd place.

2 years ago

48 for Finnerty

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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