2021 NCAA Men’s Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap


  • 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
  • Streaming:
  • Championship Central
  • Psych Sheets
  • Live Results

Welcome to the 2021 NCAA Men’s Championships, which launch tonight with the 800 free relay. This is the first NCAA Men’s Championships in two years due to the pandemic.

While Florida’s Kieran Smith could light things up on the Gator relay, Texas holds the top seed in this race by over four seconds, and they’re the heavy favorites to clinch the first race of the evening. The final heat will be a barn-burner, as Texas will be joined by Florida, Cal and Texas A&M to close the night.

The Longhorns return Drew Kibler and Austin Katz from their record-breaking relay in 2019, and Kibler sits #2 in the country in the 200 free individually, behind Smith but over a second ahead of anyone else.

Six heats will run tonight, as relays will compete in every other lane to adhere to social distancing protocol this week. Per a tweet from commentator Rowdy Gaines, the final heat will see lead-offs from Smith (Florida), Kibler (Texas), Shaine Casas (Texas A&M) and Trenton Julian (Cal). Smith, Kibler and Casas are the fastest 200 freestylers in the country this season (in that order).



  • NCAA Record: Texas (Kibler, Katz, Newkirk, Haas) – 6:05.08
  • U.S. Open Record: Texas (Kibler, Katz, Newkirk, Haas) – 6:05.08
  • American Record: Texas (Kibler, Katz, Newkirk, Haas) – 6:05.08
  • 2019 Champion: Texas (Kibler, Katz, Newkirk, Haas) – 6:05.08
  • 2020 Top Performer: Texas (Rooney, Willenbring, Katz, Kibler) – 6:08.40

Top 3 (final)

  1. Texas – 6:07.25
  2. Cal – 6:08.68
  3. Texas A&M – 6:10.79

Texas went 6:07.25 in the final heat, the fastest time of the night by over a second ahead of Cal (6:08.68). That’s the 14th win for Texas in this event, the most of any school in history. Texas A&M went 6:10.79 for third, just ahead of Florida’s 6:10.91, as this was the fastest heat top-to-bottom by far.

Drew Kibler was 1:30.65 leading off for Texas, with Austin Katz following in 1:33.02, then Carson Foster 1:31.55 and Jake Sannem (1:32.03). Cal was led off by Trenton Julian at 1:31.41, with Daniel Carr (1:33.14) and Destin Lasco (1:32.13) in the middle and Bryce Mefford (1:32.00) on the end. Cal dropped three seconds from seed, and the Longhorns about a tenth; Katz has been under 1:32 on this relay before, though, so he wasn’t quite as fast as expected.

A&M went with their top two swimmers going out, Shaine Casas (1:30.59) and Mark Theall (1:31.46), as did Florida with Kieran Smith (1:29.66) and Trey Freeman (1:32.88). That’s Smith’s second time under 1:30, but it’s not a best, coming just off of his SEC time of 1:29.48. Both the Aggies and Gators dropped from seed, A&M shaving .8 and UF lopping off around 1.3 seconds.

Luke Miller led off NC State in 1:32.55, just ahead of Michigan’s Patrick Callan (1:32.63), but the Wolfpack took off, all of their splits under 1:34. Hunter Tapp bookended with a 1:32.44 on the end to pair with Miller’s 1:32 up top. Georgia and Stanford went 2-3 in the heat to move to 2-3 overall in all heats swum, with UGA breaking the school record and getting a 1:32.17 anchor from Luca Urlando and Stanford getting a 1:32-mid splits from Preston Forst and Grant Shoults.

NC State and Georgia dropped from seed, the Bulldogs by 1.6 seconds, while Stanford gained .1.

Ohio State kicked off heat four with a lead thanks to senior Paul Delakis at 1:31.93. Things tightened up, and they were suddenly trailing Virginia Tech and Indiana going into the final leg. Indiana prevailed at 6:14.68, with Virginia Tech just behind at 6:15.19.

Alexei Sancov was 1:31.82 leading off USC, his first time under 1:32. But Louisville took over the lead on the second leg, and they ran away with it. The Cardinals posted a 6:13.72, dropping three seconds from seed, while Virginia took second in the heat and second overall (for now) at 6:16.44. Nicolas Albiero was 1:32.77 leading off and Colton Paulson was 1:32.77 on the second leg for Louisville, while Matt Brownstead was a surprising name leading off UVA with a new best by three seconds: 1:33.16.

Louisville’s time would hold up through the end of the night, good for eight overall with all the heats concluded.

Notre Dame clocked a 6:18.04 for the heat two win, getting a 1:33.58 lead-off from Jack Hoagland and a 1:33.58 anchor from Sadler McKeen. Batur Unlu swam a big 1:32.27 for Georgia Tech to hand them an early lead, which is a lifetime best and breaks his own school record. That’s big for the freshman in his first NCAA race.

Tomas Sungalia was strong leading off UNC to an early lead, touching in 1:33.36. Wisconsin’s Andrew Benson pulled the Badgers into the lead on the second leg, though, and Wisconsin continued to build that margin through to the finish. Wisconsin clocked a 6:19.34 for the heat one win, dropping from their seed of 6:20.24. Freshman Jake Newmark was 1:33.89 for the Badger lead-off.

Florida State was DQ’d for an early exchange.

In total, seven of the top eight teams dropped from their seed. Bigger picture, though, 11 out of the 22 teams with legal swims added time.


  1. Texas 40
  2. California 34
  3. Texas A&M 32
  4. Florida 30
  5. NC State 28
  6. Georgia 26
  7. Stanford 24
  8. Louisville 22
  9. Indiana 18
  10. Virginia Tech 14
  11. Michigan 12
  12. Arizona 10
  13. Virginia 8
  14. Ohio St 6
  15. Missouri 4
  16. Notre Dame 2

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Old’ Longhorn
1 year ago

And over on the other channel, Lochte goes a 1:59.7 to smoke Dressel in the 200 IM.

I still miss Gregg Troy
1 year ago

My many takeaways that nobody asked for:
1. We were right to question Katz this season, that last 75 of his leg looked brutal
2. I think kibler overswam the first 50 of his 2 free and if he backed off that maybe he’d be a little closer to Kieran at the end (but also I’m not His coach, just a thought tho)
3. Cal looking good across all of their legs, Not sure what those guys’ bests are but the relay as a whole was great.
4. Casas 2 free makes me think he’s gonna threaten some records this weekend and I’m thinking he’ll be right on dressel and seliskars 2 IM time tomorrow
… Read more »

Reply to  I still miss Gregg Troy
1 year ago

Kibler was deeeeefinitely hurting at the end, he looked much lower in the water the last 50 compared to his first 50

Bank robbers
1 year ago

you love to see it 🤷🏻

1 year ago

Great splits from versatile freshmen Lasco, Urlando, and Foster. And Foster safe on the exchange.

1 year ago

UNC anchor leg went 1:38

Old’ Longhorn
Reply to  Whoa
1 year ago

Yeah,but Katz still sucked.

Reply to  Old’ Longhorn
1 year ago


1 year ago

Hard to judge on one race with only a few swimmers, but Cal splits showed more improvement from seed. Given how tight the meet projects against Texas, that bodes pretty well

Reply to  JeahBrah
1 year ago

This is true.


They had ground to make up.

To me, Cal’s improvement puts them back to event. Now, it’s a battle down to the finish.

1 year ago

For all the people complaining about Katz, his best split ever is 1:31 high but typically he splits 1:32 low. Almost all of the difference came in the first 100 where in the past he’s been out in 44.0 instead of 44.9. Maybe he didn’t meet YOUR expectations so that Texas broke the record but it was still a solid swim when put in context.

Reply to  swimswamswum
1 year ago

he was 2.5 seconds slower than his backstroke rival. How is that for context?

Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

Katz isn’t as good of a freestyler as Casas. This was true before tonight and it’s true after tonight

Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

Casas was a 133+ the year that Katz was 1:31 so what you are saying isnt necessarily true before tonight. We are a talking a 5 second swing which will probably be the same swing for the 2 backstroke but I suppose a 138 and third place ain’t bad.

Old’ Longhorn
Reply to  Taa
1 year ago

It’s only a rival if it’s close. And it won’t be close. Katz 1:38 at best.

Reply to  Old’ Longhorn
1 year ago

Nah, Katz might not have what it takes to beat Casas given his mediocre swim tonight, but he can still put up a 1:37 no problem.

Jay Ryan
Reply to  swimswamswum
1 year ago

I agree if he went 1:32.6 (only 0.4 slower) we would not be pillorying him.

1 year ago

120+ comments about 1 event.
Looks like people have been waiting for this. 🙂

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

Read More »