2022 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 23 – Saturday, March 26, 2022
- McAuley Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
- Updated Psych Sheets
- Live Results
- Official Previews Index
- Pick ‘Em Contest
Step back in time with me, if you will, to March of 1985. New Coke, the Goonies, and Back to the Future are all about to be released, and the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving championships are currently being held at the less-than-eight-years old Texas Swim Center in Austin, Texas.
Stanford’s Pablo Morales is coming off of a great Olympic summer, and not only does he sweep the butterfly events at NCAAs, but he also wins the 200 IM. He’ll win that event again the next two years, then Southern California’s Dave Wharton will rattle off a three year-winning streak himself.
And while the SEC, buoyed largely by Florida, has won its share of 200 IM titles since then, the Pac-12 has remained strong in this event, with four different schools collecting a total of 16 titles in this event dating back to Morales’ first win.
This year, a fifth Pac-12 team may be in line for its first-ever* NCAA victory in the 200 IM, and that’s the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Note: As pointed out in the comments, Arizona State’s Atilla Czene won the 200 IM in 2000, when the NCAA championships was held in short course meters format.
We don’t always see international swimmer who have excelled at long course make a seamless transition to yards, but French Olympian Leon Marchand has been on absolute tear this year, and he comes in with the top time in the country this season by nearly a second, at 1:39.65 from the Pac-12 Championships.
But it’s not just Marchand that has us feeling a Pac-12 vibe in this event. Pac-12 swimmers hold four of the top seven, and seven of the top 15, spots on the psych sheet. Marchand’s teammate Grant House sits at #2 on the psych sheet with a 1:40.66, while fellow conference-mates Ron Polonsky of Stanford and Destin Lasco of Cal, are seeded at 1:40.71 and 1:41.53, respectively.
House improved his best time from 1:42.83 (from 2019) to 1:40.66 this season, part of a big burst of Sun Devil swimming. Polonsky, a freshman from Israel, had a monster Pac-12 Championships, becoming the 3rd-fastest freshman of all-time, behind only Marchand and Lasco. Polonsky’s teammate Jonathan Affeld is seeded 15th after making the B-final last year.
Speaking of Lasco…last year he didn’t even get a mention in this preview…oops…and then promptly dropped from a 1:45.91 seed to a 1:40.61 in prelims, and took 3rd in finals with a 1:40.01. He’s seeded 7th this season with a 1:41.53.
Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez is “only” seeded 12th with his 1:42.04, but he’s the highest-returning finisher from last year’s race, where he went 1:39.99 to take 2nd behind Shaine Casas. (He’s also #3 on the all-time fastest freshmen list).
Fellow Bear Jason Louser is seeded 10th with a 1:41.76. But wait, there’s more (Bears). Trenton Julian was an A-finalist in the 500 free this year, but opted out of that event for this one, so it feels safe to assume the Cal coaching staff expects him to at least score, even though he’s only seeded 22nd with a 1:43.07.
Ever further down the psych sheet, watch out for Cal’s Bryce Mefford and Daniel Carr. Mefford ranks 59th with a 1:45.66 this season, but he won the B-final last year, breaking 1:42. Carr, who is only seeded 69th with a 1:46.21, made the B-final both in 2019 and 2021.
One last Pac-12 swimmer of note to watch is yet another Sun Devil, David Schlicht. Last year while still swimming for the cross-state Wildcats, Schlicht slid into the A-final with a 7th-place tie in prelims. He’s seeded with a 1:43.30 this year, versus a 1:42.18 last year, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can drop time from seed this year.
All told, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Pac-12 nab a disportionate number of the finals spots, but there are, of course, plenty of other fast swimmers to watch.
Sticking with our geographic theme, we’ll work our way over to the middle of the country.
As a freshman last year, Texas’ Carson Foster finished 4th place, with a 1:40.99 that currently makes him the 5th-fastest freshman ever. He’s already been faster this year, having cracked the 1:41 barrier with a 1:40.88. He’s capable of throwing down fast times seemingly at will, and he’ll be looking to move up in the rankings against a very strong top-end of the field.
Foster had three teammates make the B-final last year — his brother, Jake Foster, Caspar Corbeau, and Braden Vines. All three return this year, and Corbeau, particularly, has looked all sharp all season and could make a run at the top eight. Also keep an eye on freshman Tim Connery, who’s seeded 25th at 1:43.16.
Michigan freshman Gal Cohen Groumi sits 8th on the psych sheet with a 1:41.54, which makes him the 6th-fastest freshman ever, while Mizzouri’s Danny Kovac is seeded 13th at 1:42.39 after finishing 7th overall last season, and Ohio State freshman Alex Quach is seeded just behind him at 1:42.47.
We’ll close out our cross-country trip by getting over the Appalachian Mountains and working through a few East Coast schools. First we stop in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Spanish national Carles Coll Marti has been training under Sergio Lopez at Virginia Tech. Coll Marti didn’t climb the all-time freshman lists last year — he actually finished 33rd in prelims, but he’s improved by nearly three seconds this year and holds the 3rd-fastest time in the country this season with a 1:40.67, just a hair behind House.
Heading south, Georgia sophomore Luca Urlando holds the #6 time in the country this season with a 1:41.19. Urlando didn’t swim this event at NCAAs last year, but Georgia has a strong track record in this event.
One more East Coast swimmer to watch is Princeton’s Raunak Khosla, who is seeded 11th with a 1:41.88 and who finished 22nd as a freshman in 2019.
Top 8 Picks:
Historically, the #8 seed time on the psych sheet is a pretty good indicator of what’ll take to make the A-final, and this year that time is a 1:41.54. So, when trying to prognosticate the A-final, the first question is — who is likely to go 1:41-mid in prelims when you take into account both best times and historic performance relative to seed? The second question is — who will have what it will take to win this year, likely a sub-1:40?
Here’s our best guess. Feel free to share yours.
|Place||Swimmer||School||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
|1||Leon Marchand||Arizona State||1:39.65||1:39.65|
|7||Grant House||Arizona State||1:40.66||1:40.66|
|8||Carles Coll Marti||Virginia Tech||1:40.67||1:40.67|