2021 M. NCAA Previews: Carson Foster Faces Gonzalez, Finke, and the 400 IM


  • 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

400 Individual Medley

  • NCAA Record: Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 3:33.42 — 2017
  • American Record: Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 3:33.42 — 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 3:33.42 — 2017
  • Meet Record: Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 3:33.42 — 2017
  • 2019 Champion: Abrahm DeVine (Stanford), 3:36.41
  • 2020 Top Performer: Hugo Gonzalez (Cal), 3:36.60

After a stellar career as an age grouper, Texas freshman Carson Foster will finally make his first waves in the NCAA pool this week in the 400 IM. Foster is also scheduled to swim the 200 IM the day before the long IM, where he is favored to place second behind Texas A&M star Shaine Casas. At the Texas/Texas A&M/SMU tri-meet in October 2020, Foster smashed the 17-18 NAG with a lifetime best of 3:35.27, making him the 2nd-fastest performer in history behind American record-holder Chase Kalisz (3;33.42). At the 2021 Big 12 Championships, Foster took the title in a smooth 3:40.22, notably splitting 1:03.29 on the breast and 53.08 on the free. During Foster’s 3:35 performance, he split 1:00.92/51.38 the latter half of the race.

Stacking Foster up to Kalisz’ 3:33 American record, Kalisz split a strong 58.61 on the 100 breast and 51.13 on the 100 free. While Foster’s best 100 breast split is two seconds slower than the American record pace, those two seconds can be improved anywhere else in the race. It is questionable if an American record could be in reach for Foster, yet the NCAA title without a doubt could be Foster’s.

Hugo Gonzalez (Photo by Iván Terrón for RFEN)

A swimmer who also had a breakout freshman year was Hugo Gonzalez, who swam 3:35.76 when representing Auburn. Since his transfer to Cal, senior Gonzalez has been able to produce 3:36.60 from the 2020 Pac-12 Championships. This season, Gonzalez swam 3:37.31 to win the 2021 Pac-12 title, which ranks second on the psych sheet. Gonzalez has a strong breaststroke, choosing to swim in the 200 breast after posting a nation #4 time of 1:51.36. With this in mind, fly/back specialist Foster will have to watch out for Gonzalez heading into the freestyle. At Pac-12s, Gonzalez closed in a 1:00.41 breast and 51.50 free, nearly matching Foster’s fastest 100 free split.

Looming behind Foster and Gonzalez with a strong freestyle endurance is Florida’s Bobby Finke, who closed his 3:39.15 season best swim at SECs in a 50.20, swimming 24.46 on the final 50. Despite Finke’s 100 free being nearly a second faster than Gonzalez’ and Foster’s, his breaststroke leg was 1:03.22 at SECs. Will his strong freestyle be enough to catch Gonzalez and Foster? Joining the sub-3:40 contenders is Arizona’s David Schlicht, posting 3:39.59 to place second at Pac-12s. Schlicht brought the back-half of the race home 1:01.53/51.83, yet has a 100 back split two seconds slower than Foster.

It was a Foster 1-2 finish in the 400 IM, with Carson’s older brother Jake Foster taking SEC runner-up in 3:40.35, the 5th-fastest psych sheet time. J. Foster is another strong breaststroker in this 4IM field, yet only managed a 1:03.29 breast split at Big 12s. Despite this, he closed his race in 26.35/25.36 to nearly catch C. Foster by 0.13s. At the A&M/SMU tri-meet, J. Foster split 1:02.68 on the breast to hit 3:43.30. Another solid closer behind Foster is Georgia’s Ian Grum, bringing home his third-place SEC swim of 3:40.51 in a 50.69 free.

During Foster’s two tapered swims this season, he split 49.0/49.3s on his 100 fly. At the 2021 Big Ten Championships, Penn State’s Michael Daly took his title-winning race out in a 49.70, which distanced himself at least two seconds from the rest of the Big ten field for the middle 200. Daly took the win at 3:41.09, closing in a 1:03.9/52.3. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s Jack Hoagland took his ACC title-winning race out in a 50.97 fly and closed in a 52.96, clocking in at 3:40.99.

Be on the look-out for Cal senior Sean Grieshop, who is currently seeded 9th on the psych sheets at 3:41.30, which placed third at the 2021 Pac-12s. As a sophomore, Grieshop was the 2019 NCAA runner-up, hitting his lifetime best of 3;37.03, which would rank third on the psychs. Last season, Grieshop had only managed a 3:42.18. Like Finke, Grieshop is a strong distance freestyler, capable of closing his last 50 in a sub-25 split. In 2019, Grieshop split 25.20/24.13 for a 49.33 closing 100, nearly two seconds head of his 51.11 closer (26.29/24.82) in 2021.

Place Swimmer Team Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Carson Foster Texas 3:35.27 3:35.27
2 Hugo Gonzalez Cal 3:37.31 3:35.76
3 Bobby Finke Florida 3:39.15 3:39.15
4 Jake Foster Texas 3:40.35 3:40.35
5 Sean Grieshop Cal 3:41.30 3:37.03
6 David Schlicht Arizona 3:39.59 3:39.59
7 Jack Hoagland Notre Dame 3:40.99 3:40.73
8 Ian Grum Georgia 3:40.51 3:40.51


Dark Horse Threat: Daniel Berlitz (SO), Michigan (3:41.45, 10th seed) — At the 2021 Big Ten Championships, Michigan sophomore Daniel Berlitz finished second place at 3:41.45, just 0.36s behind winner Daly. Berlitz had the fastest 100 free split of any top-3 finalist at a power five conference meet, splitting 25.53/24.58 to combine for a 50.11 free, which was faster than Finke’s 2021 SEC closer. Again, this swim was produced during a tight team battle between Indiana and Michigan, however, Berlitz’s sub-3:42 swim can be a top-8 contender in Greensboro.

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1 year ago

I am really hoping for foster to take down the American record. Have never been a fan of Chase. He’s not a humble person as far as I can tell from multiple times meeting and I think Foster is the future of US IM

Reply to  Swimfish87
1 year ago

I agree his attitude is not very good for team USA.

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

It’s the arrogance that gets me. The attitude of thinking that he is better than everyone. You can even hear it on his interviews for broadcast. It’s not like Lily King who is jokingly about it he’s just downright bad energy. It says something about a world-class swimmer with no brand will sign them. Except for the guy that he swam with

Reply to  Swimfish87
1 year ago

I know. I have friends who work at UGA pool and even notice his attitude at practices

Reply to  Hswimmer
1 year ago

I have met him and had several interactions with him. Working with swim companies. It’s just sad to see someone raised was so much privilege and how it carries over into adulthood

Cal Swim Fan
1 year ago


1 year ago

Also watch Braden Vines for top 8

I could trigger people and suggest watching David Johnston but not sure his 4IM prowess will quite match his 1650 and 500

Last edited 1 year ago by Horninco
Reply to  Horninco
1 year ago

Vines seems like a question mark given he was out much of the season… did he get a full season of training? Did he fully taper to get those cuts at American short course champs?

GA Fan
1 year ago

Sleeping on Ian Grum!!! He will make some noise come Friday night!!!!!!!!!!!!!

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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