2021 M. NCAA Picks: It’s A Battle For Second Behind Finke In The 1650 Free

2021 NCAA MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • When: Wednesday, March 24 – Saturday, March 27, 2021
  • Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Defending champion: Cal (1x) – 2019 results
  • Streaming:
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Live Results

We’ve previously detailed how Kieran Smith was en route to 500 freestyle gold at last year’s ultimately canceled NCAA Championships and is gearing up now to pull off the 2021 win. We have a similar story with Bobby Finke in the men’s 1650 freestyle who last year became the 1650 champion at the 2020 SEC Championships when he destroyed the previous NCAA and American records. He swam a 14:12.08 for the crown, getting under Clark Smith’s previous NCAA record of 14:22.41 and Zane Grothe’s American record of 14:18.25.

That was a major improvement at the time for Finke, getting down from a 14:23.01. That swim was the top time in the NCAA last season by 15 seconds as Zach Yeadon was second with a 14:27.93.

Finke has his shot at his first-ever NCAA title in the 1650 freestyle, he’s set himself up quite nicely to do so and is entered as top seed in the event. He swam a 14:12.18 at 2021 SECs last month, getting dangerously close to his NCAA and American records (a tenth short).

One significant factor that could have interrupted the end of his season was when he injured his foot in the lead up to SECs last month and was spotted with a walking boot on the eve of the championships. It’s been confirmed, however, at this point that it hasn’t slowed him down considered his 14:12.18 title-winning swim as well as his second-place winning 3:39.15 in the 400 IM.

Behind Finke in the 1650 is Georgia freshman Jake Magahey who finished second to Finke at SECs with a 14:24.96. That swim for Magahey was a significant PB for him and only his second-ever swim in the NCAA following his November swim of 14:33.78. Going into the season, he had a best time of 14:51.54 which he swam as a high schooler in 2018. Magahey is having one of the most successful freshman seasons this year and matches his second seed in the 1650 with the #2 spot heading into the 500 freestyle as well as a 5th seed in the 200 free.

Magahey’s seed time of 14:24.96 gives him a good shot at the silver medal but doesn’t make it a runaway as 4th seed Zach Yeadon has an NCAA history that makes a good case for his attempt this year. Yeadon placed 4th in the event at NCAAs as a freshman in 2018 with a 14:35.98 but got down to a 14:27.93 last season at ACC Championships. He’s been a 14:33.69 this season but if he can get under the 14:30 mark this week, he’ll be ready to give Magahey a run for his money.

Yeadon is actually not the only past 4th place finisher to be entered in the event this year. In 2019 Cal’s Sean Grieshop just missed the podium when he swam a 14:35.82 at NCAAs, establishing a new PB which still stands today. Grieshop didn’t quite perform up to his full potential throughout the 2019-2020 season, setting a season-best of 14:51.09 as the 17th fastest man in the NCAA for the year. Grieshop has actually fallen down in the rankings a bit this year and will go into the event as 25th seed with a 14:54.95 which he swam at Pac-12s.

It’s important to note here that Grieshop’s 2019 4th place performance of 14:35.82 in the event was a sizeable drop from his 2019 Pac-12 performance of 14:44.83. While he will need to have a heftier drop this year to get from his Pac-12s swim of 14:54.95 to a time that will be competitive at NCAAs, he could potentially be gearing up for a big swim here at his final NCAA Championships.

It’s quite late in this preview to be getting to the third seed in the event but another name in contention here will be Notre Dame sophomore, Jack Hoagland. Hoagland is entered this year behind Finke and Magahey with a 14:31.83 which he swam at this year’s ACC Championships. Hoagland swam a similar time at last year’s ACCs with a 14:35.19 but hasn’t yet gotten an opportunity to contest the event on the national scene. He’ll likely need to dip under 14:30 in order to make his way to the podium which we can’t yet count out as we’ll likely get our first look at a tapered Hoagland in the NCAA.

Michael Brinegar is another important name to bring up here. Brinegar is the 2019 silver medalist in the event, having swum a 14:27.50 at the meet two years ago. Heading into this year he’ll be entered as 6th seed with a 14:38.26 which he swam in order to pick up gold at Big 10s earlier this month. Given his history, he has the potential to perform well in the 1650 later this week and will look to get under 14:30 and throw his name in the hat for a spot on the podium.

Stanford senior Grant Shoults will act as a bit of a wildcard at this year’s NCAA Championships. We haven’t seen him at the meet since 2018 when he swam a 14:45.22 for 14th in the event. In 2017, however, he finished 8th at nationals with a 14:35.82. Since then, Shoults has suffered significant shoulder injuries and underwent surgery in the fall of 2018 and again in 2020. He’s made quite a comeback since then, however, and even posted a new unofficial best time in the 1000 freestyle of 8:44.7 in January 2021.

Shoults has only gotten to a 14:49.12 this season which gives him a 16th place seed in the event but given his past ability to perform at NCAAs, his recent quick swimming in the 1000, and a sure hunger for redemption in his senior year NCAAs, we expect to see a top 8 finish here from Shoults.

One more swimmer that we may see in the top 8 here will be NC State, Ross Dant. Dant has a season and lifetime best of 14:35.73 which will give him 5th seed this week. Considering the case to be made for 6th seed Brinegar, 16th seed Shoults, and 25th seed Grieshop, Dant will likely need to shave some time off his best to hold them off.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS

PLACE SWIMMER TEAM SEASON BEST LIFETIME BEST
1 Bobby Finke Florida 14:12.18 14:12.08
2 Zach Yeadon Cal 14:33.69 14:27.93
3 Jake Magahey Georgia 14:24.96 14:24.96
4 Michael Brinegar Indiana 14:38.26 14:27.50
5 Sean Grieshop Cal 14:54.95 14:35.82
6 Jack Hoagland Notre Dame 14:31.83 14:31.83
7 Grant Shoults Stanford 14:49.12 14:35.82
8 Ross Dant NC State 14:35.73 14:35.73

Dark Horse Pick: Tommy-Lee Camblong (Georgia, FR) – 23rd seed (14:54.35) Tommy-Lee Camblong is in his first year of collegiate swimming for Georgia and has a limited number of 1650s under his belt. Hailing from France, where the don’t swim yard, this pick is entirely based on his long course 1500 history. He has a solid PB of 15:18.33 in that event which is actually quicker than a number of our top picks for the 1650 including Zach Yeadon (15:21.21), Sean Grieshop (15:33.25), Grant Shoults (15:24.83), Ross Dant (15:22.06), and Jake Magahey (15:24.39).

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Horninco
21 days ago

David Johnston. Remember the name

wethorn
Reply to  Horninco
20 days ago

Agree with this as a dark horse to final and perhaps podium.

Horninco
Reply to  wethorn
20 days ago

Look at the hate wethorn…… they know

SEC
20 days ago

No love for Jake Mitchell? 8th seed, LC best of 15:10

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
20 days ago

True?