To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.
2021 NCAA MALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: SHAINE CASAS, TEXAS A&M
This was a bit of a more difficult year to make a pick, as there were two men who won three individual events at NCAAs, and there weren’t a ton of the eyepopping, all season-long, fast times that we saw in 2020.
Still, Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas just gets the edge here, winning his second-straight award in this category. The tiebreaker, if you will, between Casas and Ryan Hoffer, were a few historically-fast swims that Casas produced in the weeks preceding NCAAs. That swims included a 1:38 in the 200 fly, building on a fall 2020 that saw him produce quite a few other historical fast times
At NCAAs, Casas won 200 IM with a 1:39.53, earning Texas A&M its first-ever event title, and the 100 back, which he won with a 44.20. Casas saved his best for last, coming within a whisker of the 200 back U.S. Open Record with a 1:35.75 that made him the 2nd-fastest performer ever. Casas also a force on the Aggie relays — he led off the 800 free in 1:30.59, led off the 200 free relay in 19.02, and clocked a 20.67/44.47 leading off the Texas A&M medley relays.
While the 2021-2022 season should have been his senior year, he announced a few months ago that he would be leaving the Aggies. At first it looked like he might transfer to Texas, or maybe swim there as a pro, but so far it appears that he’s still training in College Station, although he no longer appears on the Aggies’ roster. While it didn’t factor into our decision, it’s worth noting that he also won gold medals in the 100 back and the 4×50 medley relay at last month’s Short Course World Championships
- Bobby Finke, Florida – The Gator didn’t clip his own US Open record in the 1650 free, but he did walk away from the NCAA Championships with a pair of individual victories. The first victory came in the 400 IM, where in a harbinger of things to come in Tokyo in the 800 and the 1500 freestyles, he came home like a freight train to win by over a second. The second victory came in his main college event, the 1650, where he won by over 16 seconds, just missing his own record by less than half a second.
- Ryan Hoffer, Cal – The Cal senior solidified his place among the top college sprinters ever with a clean sweep of three individual event titles. Thursday, he won the 50 free in 18.33, making him the 2nd-fastest man ever in the event, behind only Caeleb Dressel. Friday, he became the 5th-fastest performer ever in the 100 fly with a 44.24 in prelims, before winning with a 44.25. And he wrapped up his individual events on Saturday by not only finally clipping his 100 free lifetime best, which was his legendary 41.23 from high school, but also winning the event by 0.70s with a 40.89. Additionally, Hoffer came up big on all four relays he swam. He split 18.06 on Cal’s winning 200 free relay, 43.80 on the fly leg of their 2nd-place 400 medley relay, 19.70 on the fly leg of the 200 medley relay, and 40.86 on the winning 400 free relay.
- Kieran Smith, Florida – He had another spectacular SEC meet, winning Swimmer of the Meet honors after winning three events and tying his own US Open Record in the 500 free. He couldn’t quite back that up at NCAAs, as he just got touched out by Georgia freshman Jake Magahey. But he did win the 200 free, and he demonstrated his stupendous range by swimming lights out on four of Florida’s relays. Additionally, he made the US Olympic Team this summer, earning a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle.