2021 NCAA MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- When: Wednesday, March 24 – Saturday, March 27, 2021
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center / Greensboro, NC (Eastern Time Zone)
- Prelims 10 AM/ Finals 6 PM (Local Time)
- Short course yards (SCY) format
- Defending champion: Cal (1x) – 2019 results
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheets
- Live Results
- 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
- 2019 Champion: Andrew Seliskar, Cal – 1:48.70
- 2020 Top Performer: Reece Whitley, Cal – 1:49.85
After cracking the 1:50 barrier last season, Cal junior Reece Whitley has leveled up another step, dropping a nation-leading 1:48.53 in November to become the #2 performer ever. Whitley’s swim is also the third-best performance of all-time, just behind two Will Licon swims.
Whitley’s best breaststroke event has always been the 200, where his tall frame lends itself to a smooth, long stroke that is simply devastating in an endurance stroke race. After finishing fifth in this race as a freshman in 2019, Whitley is the man to beat, with Licon’s record well within striking distance.
The race for second will be tight, with 100 breast favorite Max McHugh of Minnesota looking good at 1:50.93 for the two-seed ahead of three-seed Daniel Roy of Stanford. On paper, this looks like McHugh easily taking second, with a lifetime best of 1:49.41 from the 2019 NCAA Championships. But Roy could make things interesting; his 1:51.07 season-best is only a tenth or so back of McHugh, and Roy went off for a 2:08.89 in long course in November at one of the Stanford-Cal match-ups.
That makes Roy the second-best LCM 200 breaststroker in the field, ahead of even Whitley (but behind another swimmer who we’ll address in a bit), and his time still holds up at #11 in the entire world this season. Roy seems capable of a 1:49, but he could easily go a 1:49 and still take third, so it’ll be close.
Three seniors hold the next three seeds: Louisville’s Evgenii Somov (1:51.26), Ohio State’s Paul Delakis (1:51.78) and Georgia Tech’s Caio Pumputis (1:51.81). Russian-born Somov has won both breaststrokes at the ACC Championships in 2018, 2020 and 2021; his track record is definitely impressive, though he has historically been stronger in the 100 breast, especially at NCAAs. Delakis and Pumputis, meanwhile, were A-finalists in this event in 2019, touching fourth and sixth, respectively. Pumputis also handed Somov his only 200 breast loss at the ACC Champs in 2019.
Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez is not someone to miss, despite being down at 22nd on the psychs. He’s seeded with his 1:53.53 from a time trial at Pac-12s, though he has potential to be roughly two seconds faster, or more. He clocked a 1:51.63 swimming breast during the 200 IM prelims at the 2020 Pac-12 Championships, taking the intentional DQ, and that time would make him #5 in the country this season. If Gonzalez makes the A-final, which he should, that will mean Cal’s strategy paid off; they swapped him into this event from the 200 back, where he’s been under 1:40 this year, since the Bears have five other men seeded in the top 12 in the 200 back.
Texas’s Caspar Corbeau is seeded seventh at 1:52.52, and he’s actually the best long course 200 breaststroker in the event. Corbeau swam a huge 2:08.57 at an Olympic qualifier in the Netherlands in December, which was his first time under 2:10. His lifetime best is a 1:52.06 from the mid-season invite in 2019, during his freshman year, so he seems on the precipice of a decent drop.
This will be Corbeau’s first NCAAs, as it will be for sophomores AJ Pouch of Virginia Tech, the eight-seed at 1:52.60, and Andres Puente of Texas A&M, the 10-seed at 1:52.74. It’ll also be the first for junior Lyubomir Epitropov of Tennessee, who is seeded ninth at 1:52.69. Epitropov transferred to Tennessee from East Carolina after that program folded, and he’s gone by the 1:53 second mark altogether after coming to Knoxville with a best of 1:54.32.
It’ll also be the first NCAA meet for Pitt junior Cooper van der Laan, the Australian native, and Virginia freshman Noah Nichols, the highest-seeded rookie. Van der Laan sits at the #11 seed with a 1:52.76, a big improvement after he hadn’t broken 1:55 before this season. Nichols sits 14th with a 1:52.98, and he’s cut his best way down from a 1:58.09 in high school; that pre-college best is from just over a year ago.
TOP 8 PICKS
|Place||Swimmer||Team||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
|5||Caio Pumputis||Georgia Tech||1:51.81||1:50.79|
|7||Paul Delakis||Ohio State||1:51.78||1:51.65|
Darkhorse: David Schlicht, Arizona (1:53.75 – 25th seed) – Schlicht was a B-finalist in 2019 as a freshman, and he took the 2019-20 season off to focus on the Olympics, which were moved to 2021. He placed third in the 200 breast at this year’s Pac-12s behind Whitley and Roy with a 1:53.75, though it was only his second meet of the season swimming the event. He made the B-final in 2019, going 1:53.23 in prelims and 1:52.33 in finals, so a swim like he had in 2019 finals could be enough to get him into this A-final.