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

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8 months ago

Texas wins in a new record, some combination of Foster/Sannem/Katz/Kibler, I think.

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
8 months ago

I love Katz, but I really think they should have Larson or Carrozza instead. Larson and Carrozza are a guaranteed 1:31 or 1:32 low, and Katz was a 1:34 at Big 12s. I’ll eat my words if Katz goes 1:31, but I can’t seem him going faster than 1:32 high tonight, and imo other guys earned that spot this season.

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
8 months ago

I think we’ll see Casas, Kibler, and Smith leading off their relays in the final heat. Smith has gone under 1:30 before and I think Casas and Kibler both have the ability to.

Overall I think Texas is too deep for it to be competitive but it’s gonna be an exciting start to the race.

Reply to  ACC
8 months ago

Predictions for Texas. Kibler, Katz, Sannem, Foster. 129.8, 131.9, 132.4, 130.6. Going sub 605 for the record

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
8 months ago

pool record, easy. new NCAA record, I’m willing to say no.

Reply to  mcmflyguy
8 months ago

I would like to state that this page was not updated when I made this comment.

8 months ago

I don’t know how it got this way, but this article’s cover photo feels like it has become the staple choice for a Men’s NCAA article

Last edited 8 months ago by JCO
Reply to  JCO
8 months ago

And it’s a swimmer doing something he won’t even be doing at the meet!

8 months ago

Number of splits below 1:30 this evening:

Vote up for over 2.5

Vote down for under 2.5

8 months ago


Reply to  wethorn
8 months ago


8 months ago


8 months ago

I suspect the Bears will grant the Longhorns a victory tonight in order to make their eventual defeat on Saturday night taste all the more sweet.
Go Bears! Defending champs since 2019!

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
8 months ago

Ah we’re playing some 5-D chess I see

Right Dude Here
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
8 months ago

Last time Cal successfully defended was in 2012.

I still miss Gregg Troy
8 months ago

So excited for a tease tonight, then I get a full day of swimming tomorrow

8 months ago

Love how this race has evolved to so many teams putting their fastest legs as the lead-offs. Turns the strategy for legs 2/3/4 on its head. No perfect order to swim.

Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
8 months ago

when I swam college, I loved anchoring, until I over heard one of my teammates say don’t worry, he will catch back up. and I thought, I hate that that is what they expect from me every time now. F that. I’m going first. and never anchored a relay my senior year.

swimmer guy
Reply to  mcmflyguy
8 months ago

why would u not like ur teammates believing in you and depending on u…. we see why u now live in the swimswam comments and aren’t still swimming

Reply to  swimmer guy
8 months ago

The expectation that they didn’t NEED to swim fast and I could make up for their lack is what got under my skin. it worked. we broke school records. also how do you know I still don’t swim? would be masters at this point.

Last edited 8 months ago by mcmflyguy

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.

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