We’re back for Week 7 of our 2023-24 NCAA weekly recaps. In this edition, we’re tracking the Division I men’s 200 fly and women’s distance, both of which look like they’ll be tight races come March. We also take a quick look at some D3 action, as there were plenty of big swims there. Finally, we get into some quick hits from around the NCAA including checking in on some of the still undefeated mid-major teams.
The Men’s 200 Fly Show
Heading into the USC vs. ASU dual meet, one of the most anticipated events was the men’s 200 fly. We didn’t get a yards matchup between the reigning World gold and silver medallists, but it was still an exciting race headed up by the silver medalist Krzysztof Chmielewski and fourth-place finisher Ilya Kharun.
Both are freshmen who have had exciting starts to the season: Kharun has been excellent across the fly distances, and Chmielewski is a huge part of electrifying the USC roster. This weekend, Kharun beat out Chmielewski in a new PB of 1:40.07 to Chmielewski’s 1:41.20. Now, the two are ranked #2 and #3 in the NCAA this season, behind only Kharun’s Sun Devil teammate Leon Marchand.
Pre-season, the men’s 100 breast was the most wide open event for 2024 NCAAs. And to be clear it still is, but the 200 fly is shaping up to be quite the race. The entire ‘A’ final returns, including the last two champions Aiden Hayes (2023) and Brendan Burns (2022).
But the emergence of Kharun and Chmielewski has complicated things. It’s November, and they have already asserted themselves as major threats for the title come March. And, neither seem particularly close to their ceiling. Kharun has been improving seemingly every time he suits up for the Sun Devils. Chmielewski new to yards and adjusting quickly. He’s also been taking on brutal dual meet lineups that include 500 free, 1000 free, 200 fly, and a relay. What will he be able to put up in a championship meet format?
They are not the only two freshmen making waves in the event. UNC’s Sebastian Lunak had a big swim at the Tar Heels dual against South Carolina. Lunak is part of a freshman class that has big potential for UNC. At the dual, Lunak swam a personal best 1:43.24 and now ranks #5 in the NCAA. Like Chmielewski, Lunak is an international recruit–he’s from Czechia–and this was only the third time he’s swum the event.
Someone else to keep an eye on is Jake Magahey. Magahey has made big improvements in this event this season. At Georgia’s meet against NC State and Duke, Magahey swam a 1:43.88 PB. Before September, he hadn’t recorded an official swim since 2019. But now he’s swum the race three times this season, swimming a PB each time. Magahey has gone with a 200-500-1650 freestyle lineup at NCAAs, but could we potentially see him take on the 200 fly/1650 free double on Day 4 of NCAAs?
Women’s Distance Keeps Rolling
A few weeks ago, Claire Tuggle and Emma Weyant threw down some fast early season 500 freestyles. This weekend, it was the 1000 freestyle’s time to shine, as Erica Sullivan, Deniz Ertan, and Hayden Miller put up the top three times in the NCAA.
Sullivan ranks first, courtesy of her 9:31.77 at a Texas-Texas A&M-Georgia Tech tri-meet. But it’s Ertan’s (9:33.07) and Miller’s (9:33.45) times that stick out to me because both transferred this season. Ertain shifted from Georgia Tech to ASU, while Miller stayed in the SEC by going from Florida to Texas A&M. Miller’s time marked a new Aggies program record and Ertan’s ranks #2 in Sun Devil history.
Both Ertan and Miller are asserting themselves as key members of their respective teams, each of which is trying to make themselves known nationally. The Texas A&M and ASU women are both aiming to move up the NCAA rankings and while the bulk of that job is going to be on the sprinters, having reliable points from your distance swimmers is nothing to turn your nose up at. And yes, the 1000 and the 1650 are two different beasts but like a lot of pre midseason times, the teams will be hoping that these swims are signs of more success to come.
Ertan swept the distance events at ASU’s dual against USC. Both races were exciting, particularly the 500 free, where she caught Tuggle on the final 50 yards to get the better of the Trojan swimmer, 4:42.01 to 4:42.12. That was a season best for Ertan, who moves up to #6 in the NCAA.
D3 Action Ramps Up
Division III racing is beginning to heat up. There were several big D3 meets this weekend, which saw 18 top division times swum. Those meets include the Kenyon vs. Denison rivalry meet and the Chicago D3 Shootout (which runs in a similar format to the SMU Classic).
The Chicago D3 Shootout produced 13 of those times, with Trinity (Texas) putting up four. Neely Burns swam three: 200 breast (2:17.82), 200 IM (2:04.40), and 400 IM (4:21.40). Her teammate Kyla Foxhoven put up the top time in the 100 breast with a 1:04.08.
Other swimmers that like Burns, put up multiple nation-leading times were Alex Turvey (Pomona-Pitzer) in the women’s 100 free (50.95)/100 fly (55.27), Alex McCormick (WashU) in the men’s 100 back (48.43)/200 back (1:46.06), and Jake Meyer in the men’s 100 breast (53.50)/200 breast (1:59.17).
And while they didn’t compete at an invitational, we got a treat in an early season match up between D3 powerhouses Kenyon and Denison. Denison, the defending women’s national champions, won the women’s meet 167-133. The Owls were victorious on the men’s side. They edged out Denison by four points, 151-147.
It’s also worth noting that the 800 medley relay was on the event schedule at Kenyon’s dual meet with Ohio Wesleyan the day before.
- We got another tie this weekend, as the South Carolina and North Carolina women tied in a border battle clash. UNC relied on their sprinters to come back from a 9-point deficit on the final relay. Amy Riordan led the South Carolina women, setting a school record 1:44.31 200 freestyle to likely qualify for her first NCAAs. That’s an important swim for the Gamecocks, who graduated all of their 2023 NCAA points with diver Brooke Schultz.
- For the first time in program history, the George Washington women defeated Pitt, taking down the Panthers 171-128. The teams faced each other in long-course, which made the win all the more impressive because George Washington doesn’t have a 50-meter pool in their facility.
- After being without a head coach for the first seven weeks of the season, both the Fordham men’s and women’s teams are still undefeated. They picked up wins against Georgetown (a program first on the men’s side, which came down to the final relay) to maintain their streak. This is the first time since joining the Atlantic-10 that both the men and women have gone 4-0 to start the season.
- Going off that, there are several mid-major teams that have raced at least three meets and are still undefeated. That includes the Wyoming women, the Seton Hall men, the Villanova women, the Loyola (MD) men, and the William & Mary women–let us know if you know any others.
- The annual Cal/Stanford triple distance meet was this weekend. Sweeps came courtesy of Rex Maurer in the 200/500/1000 free (1:38.44/4:22.72/9:02.75), Destin Lasco in the IMs (51.13/1:49.44/3:55.26), and Aaron Sequeira in the backstrokes (22.34/47.67/1:43.36). Sequeira broke out last post-season and is now an even more important piece of Stanford’s team with all the roster changes.