2023 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- March 22-25, 2023
- Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center | Minneapolis, MN
- SCY (25 yards)
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Florida became the first team since 2019 to break the 3:00 barrier in the 400 medley relay earlier this month at the SEC Championships, putting the Gators in position to win the NCAA title in the event for the first time since 1991.
Although there’s no shortage of challengers poised to give them a run, Florida boasts three legitimate title threats over the first three legs in their individual 100-yard events, giving them a clear leg-up on the competition.
Adam Chaney is the top seed in the 100 back (44.17), Aleksas Savickas holds the same position in the 100 breast (50.73), and Josh Liendo (44.11) is among the pre-race favorites in the 100 fly, currently seeded third.
Behind that daunting lineup is the emergent freestyle talent, Macguire McDuff, who anchored in 41.33 at SECs and clocked a personal best of 41.59 individually at the same meet.
But wait—Savickas didn’t even swim the breast leg at SECs. That was Dillon Hillis, who split 50.63 and out-touched Savickas in the individual final, but Savickas swam his nation-leading time of 50.73 in the prelims.
Whoever they use, Florida is in good shape.
Simply using the team’s flat start times from SECs, Florida has an add-up of 3:00.60, within 1.4 seconds of the NCAA Record (2:59.22) and still faster than any other school has been this season.
This is how Florida’s SEC squad stacks up against the all-time record Texas set in 2017:
|Texas, 2017||Florida, 2023|
|John Shebat – 44.58||Adam Chaney – 44.17|
|Will Licon – 49.75||Dillon Hillis – 50.63|
|Joseph Schooling – 43.60||Josh Liendo – 43.35|
|Jack Conger – 41.29||Macguire McDuff – 41.33|
We also can’t just brush aside the incredible 43.35 split from Liendo at SECs. He’s proven to be a clutch relay performer early in his collegiate career (also 18.02 on the 200 free relay), and if he can keep that going in Minneapolis the Gators will see a significant boost points-wise.
Trailing Florida’s lightning-quick 2:59, there are five teams in the 3:01 range this season that will be in the battle for the big points available in this event.
2022-23 NCAA Rankings, Men’s 400 Medley Relay
- Florida, 2:59.48
- NC State, 3:01.10
- Arizona State, 3:01.39
- Indiana, 3:01.53
- Cal, 3:01.81
NC State, Arizona State, Indiana and Cal are not only bunched up in terms of their relay performances this season, but also in their flat start add-up times.
Season-Best Add-Up Times (Flat Start)
|Florida||NC State||Arizona State||Indiana||Cal|
|Adam Chaney – 44.17||Kacper Stokowski – 44.47||Jack Dolan – 44.78||Brendan Burns – 44.65||Destin Lasco – 44.57|
|Aleksas Savickas – 50.73||Mason Hunter – 51.57||Leon Marchand – 51.01||Josh Matheny – 51.50||Reece Whitley – 51.12|
|Josh Liendo – 44.11||Aiden Hayes – 44.66||Jack McCusker – 45.01||Tomer Frankel – 44.66||Dare Rose – 45.30|
|Macguire McDuff – 41.59||Luke Miller – 41.87||Grant House – 41.69||Van Mathias – 41.58||Bjorn Seeliger – 40.90|
Cal gets the edge over the rest of the field thanks to the NCAA-leading Bjorn Seeliger on freestyle, and having that leg to rely on coming home will be a big advantage for the Bears in a tight race.
Last year, Seeliger was the difference-maker in leading the Bears to the title with his 40.64 split.
Flat start times can be deceiving of course, especially in the case of ASU, who had Leon Marchand split more than a second quicker than his flat-start time at Pac-12s: 49.73. That could be a bit of a game-changer for the Sun Devils, though they’re likely outgunned by NC State and Indiana on back and fly.
Indiana has a sneaky-good lineup that placed second last year behind Cal, using Rafael Miroslaw on free rather than Van Mathias who has a faster flat start time this season.
OTHER TEAMS IN THE MIX
Texas was fourth last year but will be missing two of those legs, and are only ranked 14th this season at 3:04.57. It seems crazy to right them off, but the Longhorns don’t seem to have the firepower on back or fly to be truly competitive in the top eight this year.
Tennessee, with a strong group of Harrison Lierz (or Nick Simons), Michael Houlie, Jordan Crooks and Gui Caribe were 3:02.51 at SECs (with Lierz) and boast perhaps the best back half in the field, but will be trailing early, forcing Crooks and Caribe to potentially fight through some waves.
Auburn clocked 3:03.03 at SECs behind a 50.50 breast leg from Reid Mikuta, putting them in the mix for a spot in the top eight, while Stanford is also right there at 3:02.71 and figure to have a few guys who can be faster than they were at Pac-12s—namely Leon MacAlister and Andrei Minakov.
Missouri (3:03.14), Virginia (3:03.29), Louisville (3:03.37) and Virginia Tech (3:03.40) are separated by just 26 one-hundredths in seeds ninth through 12th, and whichever squad can pull out the win in the second-fastest heat could end up slotting up into sixth place or so.
With Noah Nichols having been 50.82 from a flat start on breast, Jack Aikins likely to drop from his season-best on back and a reliable anchor in Matt Brownstead, we’ll give UVA the edge in jumping up into the top eight.
|Rank||Team||Season Best||2022 NCAA Finish (Time)|
|2||NC State||3:01.10||5th (3:01.53)|
|4||Arizona State||3:01.39||8th (3:02.81)|
Florida joining the Pac-12s slipped under everyone’s radar this year 🙂
I was confused by Cal going Whitley over Bell on this relay last year