2019 M. NCAA Previews: NC State Going for Three Out Of Four in 400 FR


400 Freestyle Relay

  • NCAA Record: NC State, 2018- 2:44.31
  • American Record: NC State, 2018- 2:44.31
  • U.S. Open Record: NC State, 2018- 2:44.31
  • Meet Record: NC State, 2018- 2:44.31
  • 2018 Champion: NC State – 2:44.31

Pop quiz, class. Close your notes.

Which team has put up the fastest 400 free relay time so far this season?

NC State, you say? Logical choice, as they did set the American Record in the event at 2018 ACCs with a bunch of beards. But they opted not to trot out their full A-team at ACCs this year, and currently have the 6th-fastest time this season.

Cal? 2nd.

Texas? 9th.

Okay, at this point you realize you probably need to think outside of the box, and you’re thinking Indiana. Again, they haven’t won this event recently, but they’ve got some big-time sprinters, so it makes sense as a guess. But, still wrong, as they’re 5th so far.

Wait. If NC State didn’t win this at ACCs, who did? Got to be FSU, right? They won the individual 50 free and 100 free there. 

Getting close, but still wrong.

No. Can’t be. Is it…Louisville?

Correct in only…six…guesses.

In your defense, it’s been a weird year for this relay. The last couple of years we’ve seen teams bust out some big times at conference meets, but this year it seems like more teams were playing possum instead of going for conference titles. Couple that with the fact that a lot teams took some pretty big hits in losing graduating seniors, and we’ve got a fairly unique situation this year where the top nine teams coming into this meet are separated by only 0.61s.

We’ll come back to Louisville in a minute, but first we’ll talk about the the returning champions, NC State. They totally owned this relay last year, setting an American Record at ACCs, and then breaking the NCAA and U.S. Open records in both prelims and finals at NCAAs. They lost Ryan Held, but return Coleman Stewart, Justin Ress, and Jacob Molacek. There’s no replacing Held, but Mark McGlaughlin split 42.24 last year in prelims, Giovanni Izzo anchored the 400 medley relay at ACCs with a 42.0, and freshman Nyls Korstanje has been 42.65 on a flat star this year, so they should be able to finish within a second of last year’s time.

As we said, the actual fastest time this season belongs to the Louisville Cardinals, whose ACC meet culminated with a title in this event. Nick Albiero (42.84), Andrej Barna (41.93), Bartosz Piszczorowicz 42.08), and Zach Harting (41.50) combined for a 2:48.35. That time would’ve qualified them for the A-final at last year’s NCAAs, and they have a pretty good track of record of being able to swim fast at both ACCs and NCAAs.

Texas is only two years removed from a US Open record of their own, and they still have two of the four swimmers on that record-setting relay. Technically, Texas is at the top of the invite list, although their time of 2:47.79 appears to be a composite time of their top four 100 freestylers, rather than an actual relay time from the season. Their actual season-best time of 2:48.96 came from Texas the Hall of Fame Invite, where they went with a lineup of Drew Kibler, Tate Jackson, Jake Sannem, and Townley Haas. Freshman sprinter Daniel Kreuger didn’t swim at the Texas Invite, but he put up a 42.31 at Big 12s, and he’ll likely swim instead of Sannem, giving Texas a 400 free relay team that will consist of four of the top 19 entries on the 100 free psych sheet. If everyone does what they’re capable of, on paper this is the team that has the best chance of challenging NC State for the win, but you never know what’s going to happen on the final swim of a grueling meet.

The Cal Bears is another team that should have a lot of 100 free depth. While they failed to get anyone in the 100 free finals last year, they bounced back that night for a 3rd-place finish that night. They lost some veteran presence in Justin Lynch, but they still have Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jensen, and Andrew Seliskar, all of whom split sub-42 on this relay last year. Junior Pawel Sendyk has been more successful in the 50 free so far in his career, but he’s seeded 8th in the 100 free with a 41.95, which almost perfectly matches Lynch’s lead-off leg last year. They have the 2nd-fastest time this season with 2:48.44, using the four men mentioned above.

While the Florida State Seminoles have long been known for having sprint chops, it was still a bit surprising to see them win the 50 free, 100 free, and 200 free relay at ACCs. On top of that, they finished 2nd in the 400 free relay, behind only Louisville, getting sub-42 splits from Will Pisani and Kanoa Kaleoaloha for a time of 2:48.51. We’ll see if they’re able to get any faster at NCAAs, but as it stands, as long as they’re able to swim fast in prelims (something they struggled with at ACCs), they should make the A-final.

Alabama won this event at SECs in a tight race over Florida, 2:48.52 to 2:48.82. They only got a 43.26 leadoff rom Jonathan Berneburg, but went on a tear from there, including a 40.70 anchor leg by Robert Howard. They should be faster by subbing in Laurent Bams, who went 42.82 individually at SEC prelims, and who split 42.0 and 42.2 on this relay at last year’s NCAAs.

As we’ve said repeatedly, Zach Apple was about as a ready-made replacement for Blake Pieroni as Indiana could’ve hoped to get, and he should be able to replicate Pieroni’s sub-41 split from last year. The Hoosiers also return Mohamed Samy and Bruno Blaskovic, and bring in freshman Jack Franzman, whose 41-mid split at B1Gs was faster than the 42.29 they got from Ali Khallafalla last year. Their 2:48.67 from B1G puts them 6th on the psych sheet (which, remember, because of Texas’s composite entry, means the Hoosier’s have the 5th-fastest time this season).

Ohio State was right behind Indiana at B1G, with a 2:48.75, and the returns all four legs from last year’s 12th-place finish. There, Andrew Loy, Paul DeLakis and Matthew Abeysinghe all went between 42.38 and 42.47, and freshman Ruslan Gaziev anchored in 41.45. They’ll probably need to be just a touch faster than that in prelims to secure a spot in the top eight.

Florida finished 2nd last year, but lost three seniors, including the irreplaceable Caeleb Dressel. At SECs, they used Maxime Rooney (42.06), Kahder Baqlah (42.58), Bayley Main (41.97), and Kieran Smith (42.21). Baqlah should have more in the tank – he led off in 42.28 last year, but Rooney is apparently doing a 100 free / 200 fly double Saturday, so we’ll have to see what that means for this relay. Freshman sprinter Will Davis has been great on the 50 free – he put up a couple of 18-mid splits at SECs, but he’s yet to crack 43 in the individual 100.

Another four schools come in with times between 2:50.0 and 2:50.5 — Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona, and ASU, and any of those teams could make the A-final with a modest drop. The women’s NCAA championships last week reinforced our perception that a lot of SEC teams went “all-in” for the conference meet. Missouri’s seed time, however, comes from their Mizzou Invite. It’ll be interesting to see if Mikel Schreuders, who’s seeded 9th in the 100 free, scratches the individual event to focus on this relay, as he’s done in the past. Tennessee just beat Missouri in this event last month, thanks to a a 41.32 anchor leg by Kyle Decoursey.

Pac-12s appeared to be the complete opposite of SECs, in the sense that it almost felt like every team was holding back a bit while waiting for NCAAs. Arizona took 2nd there on this relay, with a 42.07 leg by Chatham Dobbs leading the way to a 2:50.45 finish. ASU was right behind with a 2:50.51. Sophomore Evan Carlson has been fast on relays all season, and he put up 41.99 split at Pac-12s, almost exactly a full second faster than his 42.98 individually.

Speaking of Pac-12 teams, Stanford and USC both have substantially weaker this year after both teams made the A-final last year, and each would have to put up some big time drops to make the top eight.


Place Team Seed Time 2018 Finish
1 NC State 2:48.71 1st
2 Texas 2:47.79 4th
3 Cal 2:48.44 3rd
4 Indiana 2:48.67 6th
5 Alabama 2:48.52 7th (tie)
6 Louisville 2:48.34 15th
7 Florida State 2:48.51 9th
8 Florida 2:48.82 2nd


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If Florida State beats Ohio State, I will give every person who replies to this 2$




Make it $20

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger

It’s over, Anakin! I have the high… seed


All upside? On it.



I forgot my username



Go Noles

WV Swammer

Im confident Ohio State won’t even break 2:50, FSU will do 2:48.5 again I think


What’s the $ amount on your confidence here?




Make it a MacBook Pro and you have a deal


I’ll take it


I’m in. I also don’t think it’s wise to pick anyone other than Texas for the W in this relay.

Jabroni Pepperoni

Sign me up

tea rex

I’m in, but just to be clear, I won’t return the favor.

Dolphin Breast


Big ten banner

So can someon explain to me how cal and Texas are going to beat Indiana. Samy, apple and Bruno with 41. Best times and Franzman with a 41.5 split.


Admittedly, it could be pretty close, but NC State has at least one guy who can split 40 flying start (Ress), possibly two with Molacek, and Stewart is likely to be 41, I would even go so far as to say he could push a 40 with a flying start as well. Then they just need one of Korstanje, Izzo, or Vazaios to split a 41. May even be able to get away with a 42 low, although that would certainly open a door for IU or Texas. Speaking of Texas, Jackson, if healthy, can easily split 40 with a flying start, probably even with a flat start. Haas, Kibler, and Krueger all have 42 lows right now. I wouldn’t… Read more »

tea rex

Seliskar/Hoffer/Sendyk/Jensen… substitute a paraplegic sloth for any one, and they could challenge the 3 minute barrier.


If Texas and Cal are still both going for the team title think either could sneak it. It’s a brutal meet, that extra incentive might get them home.

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