2024 M. NCAA Picks: How Far Will Records Fall In Medley Relay Redux?

2024 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

There’s nothing 100% certain in sports. That’s why athletes compete and games and meets do not occur solely on paper.

But, if there’s one thing that looks pretty close to certain this season, it’s that records will fall in both medley relays once again.

Last year, NC State and Arizona State got under the existing U.S. Open Record in the 200 medley on the opening night of the Men’s NCAA Championships, with NC State winning by four-tenths. Later in the meet, Florida shattered the 400 medley relay record.

200 Medley Relay

  • NCAA Record: 1:20.55 – Arizona State, 2024
  • US Open Record: 1:20.55 – Arizona State, 2024
  • American Record: 1:20.66 – Florida, 2024
  • 2023 Champion: NC State, 1:20.67

The Clear Favorites

We’ve already seen records dropping like flies in this event this year. NC State kicked off ACCs by downing the American Record, only for Florida to break NC State’s newly-minted mark at SECs minutes later.

But it was Arizona State who broke NC State’s year-old US Open mark with a 1:20.55 at Pac-12s. As a refresher, here’s how that relay compared to the previous all-time mark, and ASU’s own relay from 2023.

ASU NEW NCAA RECORD: NC STATE 2023 NCAAs
Arizona State 2023 NCAAs
Backstroke Jack Dolan — 20.30 Kacper Stokowski — 20.36
Jack Dolan – 20.61
Breaststroke Leon Marchand — 22.71 Mason Hunter — 22.95
Leon Marchand – 22.27
Butterfly Ilya Kharun — 19.30 Nyls Korstanje — 19.15
Max McCusker – 19.74
Freestyle Jonny Kulow — 18.24 David Curtiss — 18.21
Jonny Kulow – 18.45
Total Time 1:20.55 1:20.67 1:21.07

Two things jump out here. First, the big difference maker was freshman fly leg Ilya Kharun, who was 0.44s faster than Max McCusker was last year. Second, and perhaps somewhat terrifyingly,  there’s room for improvement, as Leon Marchand was nearly half a second slower at Pac-12s than he was last year. That’s right folks, ASU could conceivably flirt with a sub-1:20 medley relay.

The 1:21 Gang

So, it looks highly likely that ASU is going to win this (sorry if you were waiting to see the picks at the end and I just spoiled this for you). But there should be an incredible race for 2nd place.

Like most schools, Florida has typically used international swimmers on their dominant relays. But the Gators were able to put together a quartet of domestic speedsters for their SEC 200 medley relay, and the result was that aforementioned American Record. Adam Chaney led off in 20.78, Julian Smith split 22.88 on breast, freshman Scotty Buff went 19.75 on fly, and Macguire McDuff anchored in 18.25, combining for a time of 1:21.66. There is some room for improvement, as Chaney went 20.38 last year, and international options Aleksas Savickas on breast and Josh Liendo on free (18.0 anchor leg last year) could conceivably bring the Gators into the sub-1:21 range.

Tennessee took 2nd at SECs with a 1:21.81, thanks to an incredible back half. Bjoern Kammann led off in 21.21, followed by transfer Flynn Crisci on breast (23.00). Then Jordan Crooks went 19.43 on fly and Gui Caribe anchored in 18.18. Remember, Crooks has been 18.9 on a fly split, so the Volunteers could also have a little more in the tank.

The Cal Golden Bears left a lot of key swimmers off the Pac-12 roster, opting to have them get in some long course reps at the Westmont PSS, so their season-best time of 1:21.67 comes from the Cal-ASU dual meet in January. Bjorn Seeliger led off the relay in a blistering 20.22, Liam Bell split 23.17 on breast, Dare Rose split 19.84 on fly, and Jack Alexy anchored in 18.44. Seeliger’s and Rose’s times are virtually identical to their splits at NCAAs last year, while Bell just dipped under 23 and Alexy anchored in 18.1.

NC State holds the final spot among the sub-1:22s, and the really interesting thing is that went with a completely different lineup than they used at NCAAs last year to set the all-time mark.

NC STATE 2023 NCAAs NC State — 2024 ACCs
Back Kacper Stokowski — 20.36 Aiden Hayes, 20.44
Breast Mason Hunter — 22.95 Sam Hoover, 23.51
Fly Nyls Korstanje — 19.15 Luke Miller, 19.80
Free David Curtiss — 18.21 Quintin McCarty, 18.11
1:20.67 1:21.86

Whether they go back to Kacper Stokowski or stick with Aiden Hayes, the Wolfpack’s back and free legs are as strong as just about anyone else in the field. The weakness comes in the middle legs. Sam Hoover has been filling in the gap left by Mason Hunter‘s graduation, but the margin was even worse on the fly leg. Luke Miller could potentially be faster — his season-best in the 100 came at midseason, not as ACCs, but it’s tough to see the Wolfpack moving up too far in the standings without someone taking a quantum leap forward on one of the middle two legs.

Others to Watch

The Hoosiers knocked nearly two seconds off of their seed time at NCAAs last year to finish 5th in 1:21.52. They return 3/4 of that relay in the form of Brendan Burns (back), Tomer Frankel (fly), and Gavin Wright. The newcomer is breaststroker Finn Brooks, who like Van Mathias last year, is a relative latecomer to the stroke, but who has already managed to go sub-23. Indiana is seeded with a 1:22.17 from their Big Ten victory, and while they probably won’t improve two seconds from seed again, they’ve got the horsepower to get towards a 1:21-low.

It’s tough to believe it was only two years ago that the Texas Longhorns finished 2nd in this event, under the then-existing NCAA record, and arguably would’ve won with slightly more aggressive relay exchanges. But, while they won’t compete for the title, the Longhorns have been buoyed by a bevy of freshmen —  Will Modglin, Will Scholtz, Nate Germonprez, and Camden Taylor — who have constituted the main options for this relay this season. That lineup combined for a 1:22.46 at Big 12s and the #7 seed, but there’s a strong chance that could change. Texas is like swapping fifth-year Jake Foster in on breaststroke, although he and Scholtz have both been 23.1 this season. Germonprez will probably swim the 800 free relay, so Texas may use Cole Crane if they want to avoid that double. On the flip side, Luke Hobson may be the Longhorns’ best option on the anchor leg despite also almost certainly swimming the 800 free relay, although they may need him more on other relays.

Auburn and Virginia Tech have near-identical entry times of 1:22.74 and 1:22.76. Auburn’s standout split at SECs was a 22.59 breast leg from Henry Bethel, and anchor Kalle Makinen should be faster than his 18.9 last month. VT finished 2nd at ACCs despite having to use Youssef Ramadan on the backstroke leg instead of the fly leg.

It’s a bit surprising to see Arizona (1:22.90) and Penn State (1:22.93) ahead of recent top-8 finishes like Louisville and Stanford. The Wildcats got a big 18.3 anchor from sophomore Tommy Palmer to help them crack 1:23, while Penn State will be without Victor Baganha, who scratched out of NCAAs. Louisville took a hit by losing the back half of last year’s relay, while Stanford should move up from their seeding simply by putting Andrei Minakov back into the lineup.

SWIMSWAM PICKS

Place Team Season Best 2023 NCAA Finish
1 Arizona State 1:20.55 2nd – 1:21.07
2 Florida 1:21.66 3rd – 1:21.14
3 Cal 1:21.82 4th – 1:21.14
4 Indiana 1:22.17 5th – 1:21.52
5 Tennessee 1:21.82 6th – 1:21.52
6 NC State 1:21.86 1st – 1:20.67
7 Texas 1:22.46 12th – 1:22.94
8 Auburn 1:22.74 9th – 1:22.67

Darkhorse: Virginia – The Cavaliers return three of the four legs that combined for a 1:22.51 8th-place finish last year. The crucial leg will be fly, where they got a 20.25 from Max Edwards this year, but Tim Connery was only 20.28 at ACCs, where they finished 6th at 1:23.46.

400 Medley Relay

  • NCAA Record: 2:58.32 – Florida, 2024
  • US Open Record: 2:58.32 – Florida, 2024
  • American Record: 3:01.51 – California, 2017
  • 2023 Champion: Florida, 2:58.32

The Once and Future Kings

This record hasn’t been toppled this season, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time after ASU came within 0.17s of the all-time record at Pac-12s, with a 2:58.49. Meanwhile, the reigning champions Florida Gators hold the 2nd-fastest time in the season with a 3:00.49. Here’s a quick look at both teams’ splits stack up between last year’s NCAAs and this year’s conference championships.

ARIZONA STATE – 2024 Pac-12s
ARIZONA STATE- 2023 NCAAs
FLORIA – 2024 NCAAs FLORIDA- 2023 NCAAs
Back Hubert Kos – 44.04 Jonny Marshall – 45.13 Adam Chaney – 44.28
Breast Leon Marchand – 49.87 Aleksas Savickas – 51.17 Dillon Hillis – 50.23
Fly Ilya Kharun – 43.84 Josh Liendo – 42.77 Josh Liendo – 42.91
Free Jonny Kulow – 40.74 Macguire McDuff – 41.41 Macguire McDuff – 40.90
2:58.49 2:59.18 3:00.49 2:58.32

The emergence of Hubert Kos in the 100 back has been huge for the Sun Devils this year, as has the addition of the aforementioned Ilya Kharun. Assuming Marchand does Machand-type-things Thursday, this record looks to be gone.

Florida, though, can expect to be better as Jonny Marshall was over a full second faster in the individual 100 back than he was leading off the medley relay. Savickas went 51.01 individually at SECs and has a lifetime best of 50.73, so he certainly seems capable of getting into the 50-mid range. All told, Florida can reasonably expect to be back around 2:58-mid and they very well may not give up their US Open record without a fight.

The Tennessee Volunteers had a 75% overlap between their medley relays at SECs, with the only difference being that Harrison Lierz took over backstroke duties from Bjoern Kammann. Lierz responded by getting under 45 for the first time with a 44.98, to go along with splits of 51.36, 44.22, and 40.71 from Crisci, Crooks, and Santos. That time of 3:01.27 is already nearly a second better than their 3:02.05 from last year, with the difference coming on the front half.

The Usual Suspects

The Indiana Hoosiers finished 2nd last year with a 2:59.09, and they look primed to finish around that same time again, as they return all four legs. Brendan Burns (45 45.00/43.82), Josh Matheny (51.09/50.31), Tomer Frankel (43.88/43.70), and Rafael Miroslaw (41.64/41.26) all swam at Big Tens this year, clocking a 3:01.61 that was very close to last year’s seed time of 3:01.53.

NC State sits at 6th on the psych sheet after going 3:02.20 to win ACCs. They’ve definitely got some room to move up, as backstroker Kacper Stokowski was “only” 44.99 after returning from the World Championships; he owns a lifetime best of 43.83. Luke Miller split 44.08 on fly at ACCs, which is probably relatively stronger than his 200 split, while Sam Hoover went 51.61 on breast and Quintin McCarty anchored in 41.52. There’s probably a strong chance that NC State returns to last year’s configuration of Aiden Hayes on fly and Miller on free; that yield splits of 43.95 on fly and 41.24 on free.

California appears to be in good shape after returning three of their four men from last year: Destin Lasco (back), Gabe Jett (fly), and Bjorn Seeliger (free). The new swimmer will be Liam Bell, who actually finished higher individually last year than did Reece Whitley, who swam on this relay, and who split 50.47 at Pac-12s. They finished 5th last year with a 3:00.38, and Bell alone should put them well under 3:00. The Golden Bears are seeded 4th with a 3:01.55, but that looks to be a composite time, with their actual top time this season being a 3:02.82 from midseason.

The Other Guys

The Virginia Tech Hokies have some decisions to make that may determine whether or not they return to the top 8 this year. Carles Coll Marti and Luis Domínguez appear to be locks to swim breast and free once again. The question comes on the backstroke leg. Last year, Forest Webb led off and hit 45.77, but he’s been about a second off of that time this year. So, the Hokies opted to use defending NCAA 100 fly champ Youssef Ramadan on backstroke at ACCs, where he went 45.34. Will Hayon swam fly at ACCs, splitting 45.12, and Mario Molla Yanes may be available as well.

Likewise, the Texas Longhorns’ lineup doesn’t seem set in stone at this point. Will Modglin will lead off, and Jake Foster will probably swim breaststroke. Freshman Nate Germonprez has been somewhat surprisingly swimming fly on the 200, but this may be the relay he gets left off, and fifth-year Cole Crane could take that leg once again. Assuming he doesn’t get thrown on the 200 medley relay, Luke Hobson could anchor this once again, although freshman Camden Taylor closed out Big 12s with a 41.69 split on the 400 free relay that’s in the same ballpark as Hobson’s 41.48 anchor from last year. They’re seeded down 14th with a 3:04.04, but they could certainly be back in the sub-3:02 range.

After some initial DQ drama, Michigan put up a 3:03.13 at Big Tens that was faster than their NCAA time last year (3:05.17).

Initially appearing as disqualified, the Wolverines earned runner-up status. Jack Wilkening (45.44), Brendan Fitzpatrick (52.14), Gal Cohen Groumi (44.20), and Bence Szabados (41.35) hit the wall in 3:03.13 for a clear 2nd-place finish.

A trio of ACC teams — Notre Dame (3:03.26), Virginia (3:03.78), and Louisville (3:03.83) could knock on the door of a top 8 finish, while Stanford (3:03.55) and Auburn (3:03.74) round out the 3:03 club.

SwimSwam’s Picks

Place Team Season Best 2023 NCAA Finish
1 Arizona State 2:58.49 3rd – 2:59.18
2 Florida 3:00.32 1st – 2:58.32
3 Indiana 3:01.61 2nd – 2:59.18
4 California 3:02.82 5th – 3:00.22
5 NC State 3:02.20 4th – 3:00.22
6 Tennessee 3:01.27 6th – 3:02.05
7 Texas 3:04.22 8th – 3:03.00
8 Virginia Tech 3:02.76 7th – 3:02.53

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Breezeway
1 month ago

No way NCSU is 6th in 200MR. Top 3! Sharpie that

Last edited 1 month ago by Breezeway
IU Swammer
1 month ago

The 3-minute barrier was just broken a few years ago, and now there will probably be 4 teams under that mark, and a good shot at 5. Wild.

Hoping to see that 1:19 2 medley.

oxyswim
1 month ago

I still think Kacper should lead off NC State’s 200 Medley. I know they’ve been rolling with Hayes for most of the year, but Kacper’s ceiling is higher and he’s nailed that leg consistently.

All I really care about for this relay though is seeing a 19 from a backstroker.

Last edited 1 month ago by oxyswim
Long Strokes
1 month ago

David Curtiss’s absence hurts the Wolfpack. I hope he has a change of heart and rejoins the team!

Not-so-silent Observer
Reply to  Long Strokes
1 month ago

They were never hurt by his departure. If anything, word on the deck is, it helped the team become even closer as a team.

Breezeway
Reply to  Long Strokes
1 month ago

They went from 18.2 to 18.1
They’re really suffering

WV Swammer
1 month ago

UF:
Chaney: 20.19
Savickas: 22.88
Buff: 19.70
McDuff: 18.10

1:20.87

ASU:
Dolan: 20.45
Marchand: 22.20
Kharun: 19.12
Kulow: 18.23

1:20.00

Backstrokebro
Reply to  WV Swammer
1 month ago

Kharun is not going 19.12

Konner Scott
Reply to  Backstrokebro
1 month ago

Why not? He’s been near that many times.

Swim2
Reply to  Backstrokebro
1 month ago

Why not? Are you saying its too fast or too slow. He’s been going 19.2 multiple times.

Horninco
Reply to  Backstrokebro
1 month ago

Correct he’s going 18.9

Cleo Lemon
Reply to  Backstrokebro
1 month ago

Ilya is an absolute dawg bud, I hope he somehow sees this since I know he’s a guy that likes to prove the doubters wrong

swammer
1 month ago

it’s wild to me that ASU has the 6th(?) fastest 100 back performer of all-time in kos – who seems poised to go even faster in that event – and he’s not even on the 200MR.

even wilder is that it’s not even really worth doing the hypothetical because dolan’s in-season 20.3 is absolutely nuts.

oxyswim
Reply to  swammer
1 month ago

Conference meets aren’t in-season.

Eric Angle
1 month ago

In the 200 MR, Marchand’s split was 0.44 seconds slower at Pac-12s than he was at 2023 NCAAs, however he was 0.27 seconds faster at Pac-12s than he was at 2023 Pac-12s. If he had the same drop today (relative to Pac-12s) as he did last year, that would put him at 22.00.

dg5301
Reply to  Eric Angle
1 month ago

I wouldn’t put anything past him, but it’s so hard to compare or predict breast & fly times since turn & finish execution can make so much difference, especially on a 50.

RealSlimThomas
1 month ago

2 medley will be one of the best events for sure. I don’t think Liendo will be on the 2medley though. Makes too much sense to have him on the 8free.

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