2019 Men’s NCAA Championships: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap


It’s the final prelims session of what has been an explosive and unpredictable men’s NCAA Championships. Though Texas was considered the favorite coming in, Cal has been lights-out so far and are now the team to beat with two sessions remaining. It’s very likely the meet is decided this morning, based on how many scoring swims each team accrues.

Cal leads Texas by 43 at the moment, with Indiana 51.5 behind Texas and NC State 62.5 behind IU. That means it’ll take a pretty massive morning for any of those teams to catch the program ahead of them. Where things get less clear-cut, though, is beyond the top 7. From 9th to 18th, the largest margin between two programs is a mere 6 points – the equivalent of one 11th-place finish individually or a single 14th-place relay. That means a whole host of teams are in the mix for the last few spots in the top 10, and the current programs in those spots could fall a long ways with a bad day 4.

Onto today’s events: the big showdown of the day is probably Andrew Seliskar vs. Ian Finnerty in the 200 breast. Last year, Finnerty went out hard but Seliskar clawed back, only for Finnerty to win a touchout by .25. This year, Seliskar is 2-for-2 after dominating the 200 IM and besting three-time defending champ Townley Haas in the 200 free. Finnerty did defend his 100 breast title last night, though, and the two should be in line for a great battle tonight, along with a host of top freshmen, including Seliskar’s Cal teammate Reece Whitley.

The 100 free might be the most exciting event, because it still feels relatively wide open. Dean Farris has felt unstoppable at times this week, and won the 100 back last night. But while his 200 free opening the 800 free relay was the best in history by a longshot, his 50 free wasn’t overly dominant. So the question is whether he can beat a bunch of 50/100 specialists in the sprintier 100. There are a bunch of contenders in that race, including 200 free runner-up Zach Apple of Indiana (who split 40.6 on Indiana’s 400 medley relay) and 50 free champ Ryan Hofferwho was the best high school 100 freestyler in history and seems to be past a freshman year plateau in the sprint freestyles.

In the 200 back, Texas’s Austin Katz is the defending champ, though he’s missed scoring in both of his individual events this week. His teammate John Shebat was the runner-up last year, and yet another Longhorn, Ryan Hartyis the top seed.

Then there’s the 200 fly, where NC State’s Andreas Vazaios is the defending champ. But Indiana’s Vini Lanza is the top seed, and looking for a fly sweep after winning a thrilling battle last night.

Prelims finish with the 400 free relay, where Texas holds the top seed with Louisville in tow. We’ll continue our daily coverage with timed final mile heats and platform diving, before a national champion is crowned after tonight’s finals session.

Keep refreshing this page for live, event-by-event recaps of all the action from Austin. And follow @SwimSwamLive on Twitter for even more up-to-the-second highlights.


  • NCAA Record: Ryan Murphy, Cal (2016) – 1:35.73
  • American Record: Ryan Murphy, Cal (2016) – 1:35.73
  • U.S. Open Record: Ryan Murphy, Cal (2016) – 1:35.73
  • Meet Record: Ryan Murphy, Cal (2016) – 1:35.73
  • 2018 Champion: Austin Katz, Texas – 1:37.53

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Austin Katz, Texas – 1:37.72
  2. John Shebat, Texas – 1:37.97
  3. Daniel Carr, Cal – 1:38.56
  4. Bryce Mefford, Cal – 1:38.95
  5. Zachary Poti, Arizona State – 1:39.09
  6. Kane Follows, Hawaii – 1:39.15
  7. Coleman Stewart, NC State – 1:39.29
  8. Clark Beach, Florida – 1:39.37

Texsa did qualify 1-2 in the 100 back with the duo who swept the top two spots last year, but they also missed the A final with top-seeded Ryan Harty. Austin Katzwho won the event last year as a freshman, was first in 1:37.72, with teammate John Shebat second in the heat and overall at 1:37.97. That’s faster than both qualified last year, and not far off what they went in finals.

But Cal matched Texas with two A finalists. Daniel Carr was third in 1:38.56, flip turns unencumbered by the backstroke starting wedge as they were in yesterday’s 100 back heats. Meanwhile Bryce Mefford will reprise his A final swim from last year, qualifying 4th in 1:38.95. Mefford is about a half-second off what he went in taking 4th last year, while Carr cut eight tenths from seed and is already seven tenths faster than he went in this event last year.

Arizona State’s Zachary Poti is into the final in 1:39.09, one of seven men to go 1:39. Hawaii will get their first A finalist of the meet in Kane Follows (1:39.15, 6th).

NC State’s double NCAA runner-up Coleman Stewart is 7th in 1:39.29 – he was 12th in this race last year. And Florida’s Clark Beach made the A final in his sophomore season as Florida tries to run down Louisville for 5th as a team.

Texas’s Harty was 10th and will swim in the B final again, next to Georgia’s Javier Acevedo. Last year’s third-place finisher Patrick Mulcare out of USC also missed the A final and will be 12th into tonight.

As a team, Texas has 2As and 2Bs. Cal has 2As, NC State 1A and Indiana no scorers.


  • NCAA Record: Caeleb Dressel, Florida (2018) – 39.90
  • American Record: Caeleb Dressel, Florida (2018) – 39.90
  • U.S. Open Record: Caeleb Dressel, Florida (2018) – 39.90
  • Meet Record: Caeleb Dressel, Florida (2018) – 39.90
  • 2018 Champion: Caeleb Dressel, Florida – 39.90

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Dean Farris, Harvard – 41.00
  2. Bowe Becker, Minnesota – 41.44
  3. Daniel Krueger, Texas – 41.49
  4. Zach Apple, Indiana – 41.59
  5. Robert Howard, Alabama – 41.69
  6. Justin Ress, NC State – 41.74
  7. Ryan Hoffer, Cal / Pawel Sendyk, Cal – 41.76

Harvard’s Dean Farris is looking to add to his 100 back title from last night, and he qualified first in the 100 free by nearly half a second. The Harvard junior was 41.00, which makes him the 5th-fastest performer in history and on the cusp of becoming the sixth ever to break 41.

Minnesota’s Bowe Becker cruised to a win in his circle-seeded heat, going 41.44 for second. Texas freshman Daniel Krueger had a huge swim to go 41.49 for third, and Texas will get three scorers tonight: Krueger in the A final, plus Townley Haas (42.02) in 14th and Drew Kibler (42.17) in 15th.

Indiana’s Zach Apple made the A final in fourth at 41.59. Last year, while swimming for Auburn, Apple missed the A final here before putting up the third-best time overall in finals. He’s still two tenths off that, and might be the foremost challenger to Farris tonight.

Alabama senior Robert Howard, who anchored the winning 200 medley relay last night, is 5th in 41.69, already better than the twin 41.8s he put up last year while finishing 10th. NC State’s Justin Ress was 41.74 for sixth – he’s the fastest returner from last year after taking third, though he hasn’t been as dominant this year as he was a year ago for the Wolfpack.

This event was a rough one for Cal last year, with four potential scorers missing both finals. That wasn’t the case this year, with Ryan Hoffer and Pawel Sendyk tying for 7th in 41.76. The duo, who went 1-2 in the 50 free, will vie for A final points tonight. For Hoffer, that’s his best time since high school. He was a blue-chip recruit based off a 41.23 swim in high school, but he hasn’t bettered that since 2015. He’s on track to challenge it tonight, though, after going a lifetime-best 50 free on day 2.

Sendyk also improves his seed and lifetime-best by two tenths.

One early heat outside the circle seed had 5 of 8 swimmers scratch, and the three remaining ones blasted B final times in clean water. That’ll be 9th place Cameron Aucinachie of Denver, 11th-place Nyls Korstanje of NC State and 12th-place Mohamed Samy of Indiana.

As a team, Cal has 2 A finalists here. Texas has 1A and 2Bs. NC State and Indiana each get 1A and 1B. That brings today’s early totals to:

  • Cal – 4A / 0B
  • Texas – 3A / 4B
  • NC State – 2A / 1B
  • Indiana – 1A / 1B


  • 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, Indiana – 1:50.17

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Andrew Seliskar, Cal – 1:51.19
  2. Ian Finnerty, Indiana – 1:51.24
  3. Max McHugh, Minnesota – 1:51.36
  4. Reece Whitley, Cal – 1:51.59
  5. Caio Pumputis, Georgia Tech – 1:52.40
  6. Paul DeLakis, Ohio State – 1:52.56
  7. Benjamin Walker, Texas A&M – 1:52.58
  8. James Guest, Georgia – 1:52.75

It was a strategic 200 breast, with the top contenders not showing their full hand in the morning. In the second-to-last heat, defending champ Ian Finnerty built a big lead, then took a huge, visible look to the side at the 150-turn to see where his competition was before shutting down his speed in the final 50. His split dropped from 28.7 on the third 50 to 30.0 on the final 50 as he merely cruised in for the heat win. Big Ten rival and Minnesota freshman Max McHugh charged hard late, going 1:51.36 for second in the heat. McHugh is now just outside the top 10 performers in history.

One heat later, Cal’s Andrew Seliskar built a huge lead before backing off himself. He was 24 on the first 50, then 27 on the second before going 29s on his final two 50s. He was 1:51.19 and both he and Finnerty clearly have more in the tank for tonight. Seliskar is the top seed, and a win would probably assure him Swimmer of the Meet with 3 individual titles. Finnerty is second and McHugh third.

Cal freshman Reece Whitley was 1:51.59 – that’s about on par with his pre-college best, but is still off the 1:50.62 he went at Pac-12s.

Georgia Tech’s Caio Pumputis is fifth, making his third A final this week. He was 6th in both the 200 IM and 100 breast.

In an interesting event combo, we’ll have two guys in the A final of the 200 breast who also A finaled in the 200 free. Seliskar is the first and Ohio State’s Paul DeLakis the other. DeLakis was 1:52.56, dropping a full second from his seed to take 6th.

Texas A&M’s Benjamin Walker and Georgia’s James Guest round out the A final as the SEC’s only championship finalists in this event.

Last year’s 7th-place finisher Tommy Cope of Michigan misses the A final, going 1:52.76 to finish just a single hundredth behind Guest for 8th. Michigan will have two men in the B final.

Cal puts two men into the A final for the third-straight event this morning. They also have Carson Sand in the B final after a huge swim from the early heats. Texas scores no one in what might be the dagger swim to their waning comeback hopes. Indiana gets one A finalist and NC State has no scorers.

Running A/B totals:

  • Cal – 6A / 1B
  • Texas – 3A / 4B
  • Indiana – 2A / 1B
  • NC State – 2A / 1B


  • NCAA Record: Jack Conger, Texas (2017) – 1:37.35
  • American Record: Jack Conger, Texas (2017) – 1:37.35
  • U.S. Open Record: Jack Conger, Texas (2017) – 1:37.35
  • Meet Record: Jack Conger, Texas (2017) – 1:37.35
  • 2018 Champion: Andreas Vazaios, NC State – 1:38.60

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Andreas Vazaios, NC State – 1:39.54
  2. Nicolas Albiero, Louisville – 1:40.16
  3. Zach Fong, Virginia / Vini Lanza – 1:40.18
  4. Zheng Quah, Cal – 1:40.21
  5. Jack Saunderson, Towson – 1:40.44
  6. Camden Murphy, Georgia – 1:40.72
  7. Trenton Julian, Cal – 1:40.94

Defending champ Andreas Vazaios surged out front of his heat with a statement win of 1:39.54. That’s faster than anyone went in prelims last year, including Vazaios himself, who was 1:39.6 in prelims a year ago and 1:38.6 in finals.

Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero has upgraded to the A final as well, after winning the B final last year. Albiero was 1:40.16, already seven tenths faster than he was last year and a half-second better than his seed. He’s the #2 seed into the final.

Virginia’s Zach Fong tied with Indiana’s’ Vini Lanza for third – both went 1:40.18. Lanza was third overall last year in 1:39.7, cutting more than half a second from prelims to finals. Fong was a B finalist a year ago, and this morning’s swim was a massive breakthrough, a drop of 1.1 seconds.

Cal will get two A finalists, marking all four prelims events with exactly two championship finalists. It was by the skin of their teeth here: Zheng Quah was safely in with a 5th-place 1:40.21. Sophomore Trenton Julian made his second-straight A final in this event with a 1:40.94, taking 8th by just a tenth over Virginia Tech’s Antani Ivanov. But last year’s 4th-place finisher Mike Thomas is out of the A final for the Bears – he sits 14th after gaining three tenths from seed this morning.

Towson’s Jack Saunderson is sixth in 1:40.44, joined by Georgia sophomore Camden Murphy (1:40.72) in the A final.

Cal has 2 As and 1 B into tonight. Texas has just 1 B. Indiana and NC State both have 1 A-finalist and no Bs. Here’s a look at this morning’s A/Bs from the top four teams:

  • Cal – 8A / 2B
  • Texas – 3A / 5B
  • Indiana – 3A / 1B
  • NC State 3A / 1B

Though we’ve still got the mile to go, it looks like Louisville might be tightening its grip on 5th over Florida. The Cardinals have 1 A and 2 Bs into tonight, while Florida only has a single scorer, a B finalist in the 200 back. A 100 free/200 fly combo for Florida’s Maxime Rooney wasn’t a great move in hindsight, yielding an 18th place followed by a 30th. Louisville is seeded ahead of Florida in the 400 free relay, though Florida has one miler in the top 8 seeds and Louisville has one projected to score, currently 9th.


  • 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

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Cal – 2:48.38
  2. Indiana – 2:48.67
  3. Texas – 2:49.07
  4. NC State – 2:49.11
  5. Florida State – 2:49.22
  6. Ohio State – 2:49.39
  7. Louisville – 2:49.64
  8. Arizona State – 2:49.67

Cal swam its top lineup this mroning, getting a 41.38 anchor from Andrew Seliskar to win the heat and take the top qualifying time overall at 2:48.38. Ryan Hoffer was also 42.1 for Cal, which had no split (including leadoffs) above 42.5.

Indiana was second. Zach Apple had a stellar leadoff of 41.84, and the Hoosiers also got a 42.1 from Mohamed Samy and a 42.1 from freshman Jack Franzman. They outdid Cal, with no split (including leadoffs) above 42.4.

Texas used some lineup trickery this morning after their 100 freestylers weren’t great individually, for the most part. Daniel Krueger was the one individual to swim really well in the 100 this morning, and the freshman was 41.6 anchoring this relay past a couple challengers to win the final heat. Jake Sannem was also 41.9 and is becoming quite a reliable relay leg for the Longhorns. They swam freshman Drew Kibler on the leadoff leg, and he gained four tenths from his individual swim to go 42.5, and in a three-quarter freshman relay, Texas went outside the box for rookie Matthew Willenbring on the third leg. Willenbring went 42.9 on his leg, but will likely tag out tonight for either Townley Haas or Tate Jackson, though neither senior was great in the 100 individually.

NC State got the field’s best flying start split from anchor Justin Ress to take fourth. He was 41.26 in a great swim for the senior, who hasn’t been quite as explosive so far this year as he was a year ago. The Wolfpack didn’t use Coleman Stewart or Jacob Molacek, who were on last year’s winning relay, and can probably upgrade significantly from their pair of 42 splits through the middle of the relay.

Florida State had a massive swim in their heat, getting a 41.9 from Emir Muratovic followed by a 42.1 from Kanoa Kaleoaloha on the final two legs to take 5th. And Ohio State will make the A final on a 6th-place showing, powered by a 42.0 split from Ruslan Gaziev, who scratched the 100 individually to focus on this relay. Ohio State also had a 42.1 leadoff out of Andrew Loy.

Louisville added some from seed, but will be in the A final on a 41.8 from anchor Zach Harting. Harting is mostly known as a 200 flyer, but has been better in the sprints this week – he missed scoring in the 200 fly today but was the relay hero on the anchor leg here.

Arizona State also made the A final, with four splits between 42.2 and 42.7. Carter Swift led off in 42.4 and Grant House anchored in 42.2.

Alabama just misses the final, despite getting a 41.9 from anchor Zane Waddell and a 42.1 from leadoff man Robert Howard. Missouri is also in that B final, as is Harvard, which got the field’s best leadoff leg from top 100 free qualifier Dean FarrisHe was 41.12 on the relay this morning after a 41.00 individually.

Stay tuned to SwimSwam.com for updates from both platform diving and the early heats of the 1650 freestyle.

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Running start to touch backstroke flags
1 year ago

Can Texas diving pull out the win to retain their 2018 title? Big day.


Texas needs a crazy morning like 4/1 in the hundred free, 4/0 in the back, 1/0 in the Breast, 1/0 in the mile, 0/1 in the fly, 2/1 in platform with a win, and then win the relay.

5% chance, that might be generous

Joel Lin
Reply to  Horninco
1 year ago

It would take a remarkable combo of Cal bombing & Texas having every swim go perfect to see Texas making it back. I’d hate to see this meet decided by a DQ situation. I hope all the athletes on both teams leave their best in the pool this morning.

Peter Davis
Reply to  Horninco
1 year ago

It would take something like that plus a major falter from Cal. I see Cal with at least 2 legitimate A finalist threats in every individual event today. I think if both teams swim very well, we could see: 1650 Cal 2/0 Tex 0/1 200 Back Cal 2/0 Tex 3/1 100 Free Cal 2/1 Tex 3/2 200 Breast Cal 2/1 Tex 1/0 200 Fly Cal 3/0 Tex 0/1 Diving Cal 0/0 Tex 2/1 [Up = 15, Down = 5] Total Cal 11/2 = 175 plus relay = 215 Tex 9/5 = 160 plus relay = 200 Those would be about the upper bounds of each team’s potential tonight. More realistically, and based on the ways the teams are swimming, I’d… Read more »

Peter Davis
Reply to  Peter Davis
1 year ago

Cal right about on target so far, 8/2 with the mile and diving left. Will probably end up 9/3 or 10/2.

Gave way too much credit to Texas. They’re sitting at below what I thought their lowest end potential was for the morning, at 3/5. They could add as much as 1/0 in the mile and 2/1 in diving and still get substantially outscored tonight. More likely they go 0/1 and 2/0 and get outscored by Cal tonight by 50 or so.

Given about equal scoring potential for the two teams in the 400FR, looks like the spread is going to be more in the range of 90 points tonight, rather than 60.

running start to touch backstroke flags
Reply to  Horninco
1 year ago

No, I meant the top diving score. The swim meet was decided on night 1. Cal swimming is repeating from 2018 as the top swimming program.

1 year ago

Cal has had a fantastic meet, tip of the hat to them, they have made their own magic this week. Hoping for a miracle but tonight is likely to be more of a victory lap for them if things go as expected this morning.

Congrats Bears!


Reply to  Horninco
1 year ago

well put.

1 year ago

Looks very much the Bears are in control not only of this meet but also for the foreseeable future. Wow great meet, program, institution, Coaches and Swimmers! Well deserved.

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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