Welcome to week two of our 2023-24 NCAA weekly recaps!
Each week in these recaps, we take a look at some of the highlights from around the NCAA, do some deep dives, discuss any trends we’re seeing, that kind of fun stuff. As we’re starting a new season, if you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see in these recaps, please politely let us know in the comments and we’ll see if it’s something that we can make work.
Checking In On D3 and Mid-Major Transfers
Last week, we focused on the immediate impact that freshmen like Ilya Kharun (ASU) and Sydney Gring (Pitt) bring to their programs. Now, we’re shifting our attention to nine swimmers that transferred from mid-major or Division III schools to Power 5 universities this season.
- Delaney Carlton (UNC-Asheville ⇒ UNC-Chapel Hill)
- Katja Pavicevic (UC-San Diego ⇒ UNC-Chapel Hill)
- Alexandra White (Kenyon ⇒ UNC-Chapel Hill)
- Olivia Smith (Kenyon ⇒ Georgia)
- Tara Culibrk (Denison ⇒ Pitt)
- Ruard Van Renen (Southern Illinois ⇒ Georgia)
- Miles Simon (Howard ⇒ Georgia)
- Tanner Filion (Whitman ⇒ Notre Dame)
- Liam McDonnell (John Carroll ⇒ Notre Dame)
All the swimmers listed have competed in at least one meet. The only person who hasn’t raced yards yet is Tara Culibrk, as Pitt’s first dual meet was in LCM against Army.
So far, it’s the men who have seen the earliest positive returns on their new squads. All four men were faster than their season opening times last year, with Miles Simon and Tanner Filion both notching personal bests. Simon hit 22.60 in the 50-meter free on Day 1 of Georgia’s dual vs. ASU. Fillion, the 2023 D3 Male Swimmer of the Year, clocked a best of 45.01 in the 100-yard free at Notre Dame’s intrasquad. His previous best was 45.53 from 2021.
Ruard Van Renen, the top mid-major scorer at 2023 NCAAs, was markedly faster than this time last year. At UGA vs. ASU, he swam 45.95 in the 100 back, 1.93 seconds faster he went at his first meet last season.
In the grand scheme of the season, it likely won’t mean too much that these male transfers fared better than the women in the first month of the season. But it is interesting to note that the four men are all swimming faster than this time last season, while only one of these women hit that standard.
It’s particularly promising for Notre Dame. They’ve built an interesting recruiting class including Filion, McDonnell, and Elaraby Abdelrahman that could help last season’s breakout Chris Guiliano bring the Fighting Irish higher in conference and national standings.
Sprinter Delaney Carlton is the standout for the women. Carlton qualified for her first NCAAs in 2023 and was UNC-Asheville’s first NCAA qualifier in program history. In her Tar Heels debut, Carlton clocked 22.81/50.09 in the 50/100 freestyle, ranking her 3rd and 11th in the NCAA. Both times are over a second faster than she went at her opening meet last season.
News From The Mountain Top
There were some noteworthy times from Intermountain Shootout, as several Division I and Division II teams got in their first official swims of the season.
Ben Sampson, the 2023 Division II Swimmer of the Year, got his season started with a bang. Sampson entered the transfer portal in the spring, but after visits to Cal, ASU, and Texas, elected to stay at Colorado Mesa. Last weekend, he kicked off his senior year with 1:51.19/3:57.48 in the IMs, and 48.49/1:47.35 in the backstrokes. Those four times are all faster than he was at this meet last year; most notably, his 400 IM is 2.29 seconds faster than last fall.
Sampson is the reigning D2 national champion in the 200 backstroke and 200 IM. If you adjust for altitude, those times convert to 1:49.99/3:52.48 in the IMs, which are good for 10th and 1st in the nation so far this season. In the backstrokes, Sampson now ranks 14th in the 100 and 7th in the 200, with altitude-adjusted times of 48.25 and 1:46.15.
And while he didn’t fit into our first section as he transferred from a Power 5 school to a mid-major, Jordan Tiffany is already having an impact in his young BYU career. Tiffany–who transferred from Tennessee–clocked 47.27/47.11 in the 100 back/100 fly. Both those times convert to a tenth faster when adjusted for altitude. Tiffany leads the team in four events already this season, and his times from this weekend would’ve been 1st and 2nd on last season’s team in backstroke and butterfly, respectively.
Utah also had a strong showing at altitude, as Brandon Miller clocked a 1:48.36 200 back/3:59.95 400 IM. Freshman Nick Chirafsi debuted with two wins in the 200/500 freestyle, going 1:39.34 and 4:31.19. Adjusted for altitude, his 500 free time was 4:26.19, which would’ve been a personal best.
#LetBellaSprint Goes To College
The good news for #LetBellaSprint diehards is that in the NCAA format, Florida freshman Bella Sims is likely to get more sprinting opportunities than she does in international competitions. She got her first taste of NCAA action at the Gator women’s dual with Vanderbilt over the weekend.
Sims was entered solely in sprint events. She picked up the first three wins of her collegiate career in the 100 free (49.20), 100 back (52.64), and 100 fly (53.06). Also, she led off the 200 medley relay in 25.39.
It was a solid debut for Sims; she was about two seconds from her personal bests in her individual events. Further, these times give the Gators a benchmark when considering how best to deploy Sims in their lineup. Because in addition to Sims, they’ve added (among others) Izzy Ivey, JoJo Ramey, and Michaela Mattes, which gives the team plenty of choices for how to get the most points out of their lineup.