2019 M NCAA Previews: Seliskar V. Finnerty Round Two in 200 Breast

2019 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

200 BREASTSTROKE

  • NCAA Record: Will Licon, Texas, 2017- 1:47.91
  • American Record: Will Licon, Texas, 2017- 1:47.91
  • U.S. Open Record: Will Licon, Texas, 2017- 1:47.91
  • Meet Record: Will Licon, Texas, 2017- 1:47.91
  • 2018 Champion: Ian Finnerty, 2018- 1:50.17

Just like 2018, two of the best swimmers in the NCAA will collide once again for their last collegiate races. One is the fastest SCY breaststroker in history and defending champion in this event, Ian Finnerty of Indiana. The other, Andrew Seliskar of Cal, has one of the most powerful event versatilities in the nation, but has not won an individual NCAA title yet. The breaststroke nature of the event would show that Finnerty should win, considering he is the defending champ and defeated Seliskar in 2018. However, Seliskar comes into his last NCAA meet more of a threat than before.

In his previous NCAA years, Seliskar has been very skilled in the IM events as well as the 200 fly. However, Seliskar stepped up on a whole new level at 2018 Summer Nats, when he dominated the 200 free. At Pac-12s this year, Seliskar joined the elite sub-1:50 club in this event, popping 1:49.80. In comparison, Finnerty’s personal best is also near sub-1:50, but not quite. Finnerty’s background and accomplishments lean towards the sprints, unlike Seliskar’s 200-400 range. But, breaststroke is breaststroke and Finnerty’s 200 is just as powerful as his 100. In short, Finnerty versus Seliskar round two will be the battle to watch.

Contending for third is Cal freshman Reece Whitley, who had a tight race with Seliskar at Pac-12s. Whitley’s 6 feet 8 inches of power makes the 200 breast a deadly weapon for the college rookie. While eyes will be on Seliskar and Finnerty, Whitley is not that much far behind the seniors. At Pac-12s, Whitley was almost neck and neck with his Cal teammate until the last 50, where Seliskar took off. If Whitley is able to hold on longer in the race, he could become a very big threat to dethroning the seniors.

Caio Pumputis. Foto: Satiro Sodre/SSPress

The next couple of swimmers have made massive improvements from last season and snuck their way into the top 8 seeds. Georgia Tech’s Caio Pumputis broke the ACC record in this event with a 1:51.46, almost a 2-second difference from 2018. At last year’s NCAAs, however, Pumputis was disqualified in prelims. His race splits added up to 1:54.63, which would have only placed 18th. This year can be Pumputis’ shot at redemption.

For Wisconsin Badger Jian Mao, he was not even close to NCAA selection in 2018. A year ago, Mao’s PB was 1:57.63. This year, Mao swam a 1:55 at midseason and then zipped down to a 1:52.40 in a time trial at Big Tens. On a different note, SEC champ Benjamin Walker knows what an NCAA final swim feels like, as last year he placed 12th in this event. Walker improved 2 seconds from 2018 when he won SECs with a 1:52.55, just 0.15s off Mao.

Naming themselves big contenders as college freshmen are Max McHugh and Charlie Scheinfeld. McHugh has already established himself an elite breaststroker with his sub-23 breast splits in the 200 medley relay. For Scheinfeld, training with the Longhorns has truly paid off when he dropped nearly 4 seconds from HS and popped a 1:52.78 at midseason. At Big 12s, Scheinfeld only swam 1:58 in this event. In contrast, McHugh swam a lifetime best of 1:52.40 at Big Tens.

The next freshman up on the psychs is #12 seed Daniel Roy of Stanford. Unlike the freshmen we have seen already, Roy has not yet hit his HS best. At Pac-12s, Roy swam a 1:53.21. However, his personal best is 1:51.69, which would put him at 5th on the psych sheets and would have placed 3rd at the 2018 NCAA meet. This year, with the influx of seniors out from 2019, the incoming freshmen will most certainly make an impact on the veterans.

The last remaining members of the 2018 A-final are James Guest (Georgia) and Tommy Cope (Michigan), who finished 7th and 8th respectively. While seeded out of the top 8, experience can always be the upper hand when against such natural talent like this year’s freshmen breaststrokers. Guest comes in the meet as the SEC runner-up, who almost tied his personal best of 1:53.10. Cope, on the other hand, comes in with the 6th-fastest personal best of the field (1:51.87). Cope had a big swim in prelims last year, where he did that best time, but slid in finals.

Top 8 Picks:

Place Swimmer Team Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Andrew Seliskar Cal 1:49.80 1:49.80
2 Ian Finnerty Indiana 1:50.30 1:50.17
3 Reece Whitley Cal 1:50.62 1:50.62
4 Daniel Roy Stanford 1:53.21 1:51.69
5 Caio Pumputis Georgia Tech 1:51.46 1:51.46
6 Tommy Cope Michigan 1:53.68 1:51.87
7 Charlie Scheinfeld Texas 1:52.78 1:52.78
8 Max McHugh Minnesota 1:52.40 1:52.40

Dark Horse: Down in 9th seed is another Cal bear, Karl Arvidsson, who time-trialed his 1:52.80 seed three days before Pac-12s. This is also Arvidsson’s first time qualifying for NCAAs, and with the battle for the team title against Texas, he should be looking for a way to crack the top 8 and score major points for the Bears.

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IU Swammer

Last year’s race was fun to watch. Finnerty was out so fast and was just able to hold on for the win. I bet they’re both 1:48.

JP input is too short

I think Seliskar rides with Finnerty for the first 100 and slingshots past on the back half. Although Finnerty split his race at Big Ten’s a lot cleaner than his NCAA win last year. Maybe he’s learned pacing better and will be able to pull out the win?

Hswimmer

This race will be very close. I believe Finnerty and Seli will be within .50 of each other. Not sure who will win, I’m picking Seliskar though.

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro has had a huge passion for swimming since his first dive in the pool, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing, but still uses the sport as his go-to cardio. SwimSwam has become an outlet for him to continue showing his …

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