2022 M. NCAA Picks: How Fast Can Brooks Curry Geaux in the 100 Freestyle?

2022 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 100 freestyle is always one of the most highly-anticipated races of the NCAA Championships. This year, the field of competitors is dense with a slight favorite and tons of potential for minor upsets. Let’s get into it.

NCAA, U.S. Open, & American Record – Men’s 100 Freestyle

Before we analyze the field, let’s get one thing straight: no one is touching Caeleb Dressel‘s 2018 NCAA, U.S. Open, and American Record of 39.90. Not this season, anyways. However, fans could be treated to another swimmer or two hitting 40-point anything in the 100 yard freestyle at the 2022 Men’s NCAA Championships.

Louisiana State’s Brooks Curry leads the NCAA in the 100 freestyle this year and is the newest member of the 40-point club after swimming a 40.99 at the 2022 SEC Championships, taking down Dressel’s meet record. Curry is the fastest in the nation by 45 one-hundredths and seems to be riding the post-Olympic wave of success he achieved last summer by making the 2020 U.S. Olympic team and winning a gold medal by way of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. Curry is also the 2nd-fastest swimmer in the NCAA this season in the 50 freestyle with his 18.67 from SECs, as well as 4th in the 200 freestyle with a 1:31.39. Curry was 41.77 in the 100 free at the 2021 NCAA Championships, meaning he has dropped nearly eight-tenths in the race over the course of this season. Curry is the guy to beat this year in the 100 freestyle. Currently, he ranks 8th all-time in the event, though if he’s able to shave off another 0.24 he will become the 2nd-fastest all-time behind Dressel.

Ohio State’s Hunter Armstrong, another Tokyo 2020 relay gold medalist, is one of this season’s top 100 freestylers and enters the meet with 41.54, good for the 6th seed. Armstrong won the Big 10 Championship titles in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyles this year, and has improved his time in the 100 freestyle by 6 tenths. Though Armstrong is better known as a backstroker, he has emerged as one of the best sprint freestylers in the NCAA this season.

Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger placed 4th in the 100 freestyle at the 2021 NCAA Championships and is the 2022 Pac-12 champion in both the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as the 100 backstroke. Seeliger is Cal’s best answer to the loss of 2021 NCAA champion Ryan Hoffer; Seeliger placed 2nd to Hoffer in the 50 freestyle in 2021, though he did not swim a third individual event. At this weekend’s NCAA Championships, Seeliger is perhaps Cal’s best bet at an individual victory (alongside Reece Whitley in the 200 breaststroke).

Jordan Crooks (photo: Tennessee Athletics)

Tennessee freshman Jordan Crooks has blown expectations out of the water this season, becoming the fastest freshman of all time in the 50 and 100 freestyles, posting times of 18.53 and 41.44, respectively, at the SEC Championships. Crooks also has the benefit of a gap year under his belt. Any improvements upon his time and he could become the new favorite to win the 100.

Texas’ Daniel Krueger has the 3rd-fastest lifetime best of all competitors entered in the 100 freestyle, and he has come within 0.19 of that this season, posting a 41.45 at the Minnesota Invite in December. Krueger, along with teammate Drew Kibler, tied for 2nd at the 2021 NCAA Championships, and has given every indication that he is going to again vie for a position near the top of the podium. Kibler, meanwhile, has been well off his lifetime best, set in 2021, but more on him later.

Texas’ Drew Kibler is a rare talent in freestyle, capable of swimming a 19.08 in the 50 (flat start) as well as a 4:08.26 in the 500. Kibler also boasts lifetime best of 1:30.39 in the 200 freestyle, and most importantly for this pick, a 41.45 in the 100 freestyle. Kibler’s best time this season, however, is a 42.38, making him the 34th seed overall. While he seems capable of swimming up to the ‘A’ final, he has a long ways to climb through the ranks.

With Kieran Smith opting to swim the 200 backstroke instead of the 100 freestyle on Saturday, sophomore Adam Chaney is Florida’s best bet for a berth in the ‘A’ final of the 100 free. Chaney finished 25th in the 100 free in 2021 with a 42.72 only to lead off Florida’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the end of the meet in a 41.74, a time that would have made the individual ‘A’ final of the 100 free last year. Chaney has been 41.83 this season and is solidly on the cusp of the ‘A’ final.

2019 NCAA Champion Dean Farris has been 41.97 this season, 1.17 off of his lifetime best, but quick enough to earn him the 14th seed going into this meet. Farris was unstoppable in 2019, but has been slightly off his best times this season. Even so, a 41-mid will probably be enough to make the ‘A’ final. Looking back at 2019, Farris entered NCAAs with a 41.42 in the 100 free from the Ivy League Championships and ended the meet with a 40.80, a drop of 0.62, making him the 3rd-fastest performer in history. If Farris can improve a similar amount from the 2022 Ivy League Champs to NCAAs, he should finish top-8.

Stanford’s Andrei Minakov is having a breakout freshman season. While Minakov is stronger in the 100 butterfly he did blast a 41.47 leading off Stanford’s 4 x 100 freestyle relay at the recent Pac 12 Championships. Minakov is the former World Junior Record holder in the long course version of this race, and though he’s new to the NCAA this season, he has raced in high pressure situations such as the 100 butterfly final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Arizona State’s Grant House, the Pac-12 Championships runner-up in the 100 freestyle and Pac-12 champion in the 200 freestyle, is having a stellar senior season. Though House has arguably shown greater improvement in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM, his 100 freestyle has come along nicely as well. Beginning the season, House’s best time in the 100-yard freestyle was a 42.42 whereas now it is a 41.77, meaning he has improved by 0.65 in the 4-length race.

Rounding out the Pac-12, Cal freshman Jack Alexy enters the meet with the exact same seed time as House, a 41.77, though boasts a slightly more impressive overall improvement in the event this season with a 0.86 drop from his previous 42.63. House has the benefit of experience while Alexy has the benefit of a slightly less grueling event lineup than House. The pendulum could swing either way with these two, though the points from an ‘A’ final finish would be much more valuable to Cal as they battle with Texas for the team title.

The ACC will be well represented by Matt King and Matt Brownstead, both from the University of Virginia and members of the American Record setting 200 freestyle relay from the ACC Championships. King finished 5th at the 2021 NCAA Championships in the 100 free, while teammate Brownstead won the consolation final, just edging out then-freshman Youssef Ramadan from Virginia Tech, who is having a huge season and enters the meet seeded 8th with a 41.76, faster than both King and Brownstead. Finally, there’s NC State’s Luke Miller, the 7th seed overall. Miller began the 2021-2022 season with a lifetime best of 42.52 and now sits at 41.72 from a relay lead-off leg at the 2022 ACC Championships.

SwimSwam’s Top-8 Picks

Place Swimmer School Lifetime Best Season Best
1 Brooks Curry LSU 40.99 40.99
2 Hunter Armstrong Ohio State 41.54 41.54
3 Bjorn Seeliger Cal 41.51 41.51
4 Daniel Krueger Texas 41.26 41.45
5 Drew Kibler Texas 41.45 42.38
6 Jordan Crooks Tennessee 41.44 41.44
7 Dean Farris Harvard 40.80 41.97
8 Jack Alexy Cal 41.77 41.77

Dark Horse: Nikola Acin, Purdue. Acin placed 8th at the 2021 NCAA Championships in the 100 freestyle, swimming a prelims time of 41.81 to qualify for the championship final. That prelims performance still stands as Acin’s lifetime best, while his current season best is a 42.24, making Acin the 27th seed.

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Dhiaja sen
10 months ago

CAMERON AUCHINACHIE

Thomas
10 months ago

Curry goes 40.95 for the win. Crooks in a close 2nd, 41.14

oxyswim
10 months ago

Lasco in the 200 back is definitely Cal’s best shot at an individual title. Not Seeliger or Whitley.

Some Guy
10 months ago

What will probably happen- Dean makes it back but does not place top 4.
What would be really funny (and thus the desired outcome) – Dean wins it all

pvdh
10 months ago

ill say he approaches Vlad’s time. 40.79

Rafael
10 months ago

How fast can Brooks Curry? Depends.. how good of a cook is he?

Yun Sang
10 months ago

1st place Bjorn the viking Seeliger 40.8

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Yun Sang
10 months ago

Not saying I wouldn’t love to see it but he’s more of a 50 guy.
I haven’t seen many swimmers die at around 85 yards but I did at Pac 12s.

Winman
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
10 months ago

I agree with you on the fact that Bjorn is more of a 50 free sprinter. But I think Coleman Hodges said on the podcast that Bjorn apparently shut it down/cruised into the finish on the last 10 yards of the 100yd back 😅… which could mean that he may/may not die on the 100yd free 😅. But I could be wrong. Just heard it last night on the SS Podcast and was surprised to hear that 😂.

P.S. I just want a fun and high octane race to watch 👏🏻

Winman
Reply to  Yun Sang
10 months ago

Yeah, he’s a tall dude 🤯

sticky rice
10 months ago

A bit weird putting Crooks at 8th for the 50 but 6th here.

oxyswim
Reply to  sticky rice
10 months ago

Different authors for each preview have different opinions. I’m sure there’s some editorial input, but I assume the author gets final call on the order they predict.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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