2024 M. NCAA Previews: After 1:37.93 In January, Kharun On Track To Challenge 200 Fly Record



Last year, most of the attention was on defending champion and 100 back winner Brendan Burns. However, NC State’s Aiden Hayes had other plans, as he used a strong back half to produce a huge upset win in the men’s 200 fly to win his first-ever NCAA title. This year as the defending champ, Hayes will have a lot of work to do, as three swimmers in the field have faster lifetime bests.

Arizona State’s Ilya Kharun (1:37.93) leads the NCAA this season with a sub-1:38 performance from January, while Stanford’s Andrei Minakov (1:38.61) has focused on the event for the first time this season. Minakov was once a major factor in the ‘A’ final conversation for the 100 free during his career, but his recent 1:38-clockings in this 200 fly has swayed his event choice.

Ilya Kharun (Photo Credit: Jack Spitser)

Ilya Kharun‘s Consistency Could Signal An Imminent Record

Arizona State freshman Ilya Kharun has been on fire all season long for the Sun Devils. After dropping best times in both butterfly events at his first dual meet back in September, Kharun has been as consistent as they come. He’s broken the 1:40-barrier on six different occasions throughout the year, three times at dual meets, once at the Midseason Invite, and twice at the recent Pac-12 Championships. Kharun arrived on campus as one of the top recruits in the country, and had success in long course at the 2023 World Championships, where he tied American junior phenom Thomas Heilman for 4th in the LCM version of this event.

Kharun’s season-best of 1:37.93, which ranks him the 3rd fastest performer in history, comes from a January dual meet with Stanford. The time is also just 0.58 off the all-time record, which Jack Conger (1:37.35) put on the books at the 2017 NCAA Championships, which took place at the same venue as this week’s NCAA meet. Given his progression from the start of the season, and presumably being untapered at that Stanford dual meet, dropping 0.58 this week seems well within the realm of possibility.

Kharun’s 200 Fly Progression During the 2023-2024 Season:

  • September 23 (ASU vs. Georgia) — 1:40.68 *Personal Best*
  • October 20 (ASU vs. NC State) — 1:40.76
  • November 4 (ASU vs. USC) — 1:40.07 *Personal Best*
  • November 18 (NC State Invite) — 1:39.10 *Personal Best*
  • November 20 (ASU vs. Utah) — 1:39.31 (at altitude)
  • January 19 (ASU vs. Stanford) — 1:37.93 *Personal Best*
  • January 20 (ASU vs. Cal) — 1:39.92
  • March 9 (Pac-12 Championships) — 1:38.64

Tough Doubles For The Past Two Champions

Both the 2022 (Brendan Burns, Indiana) and 2023 (Aiden Hayes, NC State) NCAA Champions are going to be busy in Indianapolis, as both will tackle a tough double throughout the meet. Burns’ double is the 200 back/200 fly, one of the most grueling doubles on the schedule. While he’s known to dabble in this event lineup at the B1G Ten Championships, he’s never had to deal with it at NCAAs, where he’s placed 1st and 2nd in this 200 fly over the past two years.

Burns will likely have to complete a full effort 200 back earlier in the session, prior to the 200 fly final, presuming he safely advances to both finals. This will put him at a significant disadvantage for the 200 fly, where most will come in fresh (as fresh as you can be on day 4 of NCAAs…).

Hayes is entered to swim the 100 fly/100 back double on the third day of action, as he opted out of the 50 free in favor of adding the 100 back. While this shouldn’t have many implications for the 200 fly, it’s worth noting because he’s never done this lineup the day prior to his main event. Hayes’ time at the 2024 ACC Championships was over a second slower compared to last year in the 200 fly (1:41.31 vs. 1:40.21), so that’s another factor to consider, given his shift to backstroke over recent months.

Gal Cohen Groumi (Photo Credit: Michigan Athletics)

Michigan’s Rise, Among Other Big Ten Threats

Two men, Gal Cohen Groumi (Michigan, 1:39.60) and Tomer Frankel (Indiana, 1:39.80), broke the 1:40-barrier at the B1G Ten Championships, with Groumi getting under 1:40 for the first time and dropping six tenths from his previous best time of 1:40.21. Groumi and Frankel are returning ‘A’ finalists from last year, where they placed 8th and 5th, respectively. Frankel has dropped time from Big Tens to NCAAs the past two years, which is a positive attribute for this year, as the event has only gotten deeper.

Groumi dropped time in every event at the 2022 meet with the exception of this 200 fly, and added all of his events last year. However, with the new Michigan coaching staff this year, the women fired on all cylinders at NCAAs last week. Matt Bowe is known to have his athletes perform quite well on a double taper, so look for Groumi to at least match, if not better, his entry time.

Groumi At The 2023 B1G Ten Championships:

  • 200 IM — 1:40.48 *Personal Best*
  • 200 Fly — 1:39.60 *Personal Best*
  • 100 Free — 42.52 *Personal Best*
  • 200 Free– 1:32.07 *Personal Best*
  • 100 Fly — 44.60

Groumi’s sophomore teammate, Tyler Ray, is another name to keep a close eye on in Indianapolis. He’s dropped significant time in his main three events this year and another drop in this 200 fly could see him appear in the A-final. His time of 1:40.80 from Big Tens would’ve made the A-final last year, but the event has grown slightly deeper over the past season.

100 Fly 46.58 44.77
200 Fly 1:46.28 1:40.80
50 Free 19.98 19.47

Dare Rose (Photo Credit: Jack Spitser)

The Golden Bear Factor

With the exception of the electric dual meet with ASU, which resulted in a tie (150-150), the California Golden Bears have remained relatively quiet all season long.

Over the past several years, the Golden Bears have showed out at NCAAs, saving their best swims of the season for when it truly matters. However, Head coach Dave Durden is known to prioritize long course during Olympic years, but the defending NCAA team champions will surely want to keep the title in Berkeley.

There are two swimmers that could make a HUGE impact for the Bears in this event: Dare Rose and Gabriel Jett. Both of these athletes skipped the recent Pac-12 Championships to prioritize long course racing in Chicago, so this circles back to how focused they’ll be for this meet. Regardless, Rose posted a best time of 1:39.76 back in December at the Minnesota Invitational, where he was notably unrested. He placed 12th back in 2022 before rising to 4th at 2023 NCAAs, and he’s known to drop significant time on a taper, so he’s one to watch this week in Indy.

Jett has been as quick as 1:39.27, which he put on the books at the 2023 Pac-12 Championships, but has seemed more dialed in for freestyle races this season. Jett, a junior, was 6th in 2022 before upgrading to bronze at the 2023 NCAA Championships.

The Chmielewski Twins (Photo Credit: István Derencsény/LEN)

The Chmielewski Twins

The USC duo of Krzysztof (14th seed) and Michal (9th seed) Chmielewski may prove to be dangerous in this 200-yard fly in Indianapolis. They both competed at the recent Doha World Championships last month, where Michal was 4th in the 200 fly while Krzysztof was disqualified for an illegal turn. Krzysztof was the defending silver medalist from the Fukuoka World Championships, where he charged to finish with a personal best time of 1:53.62.

They both got off to a great start with the Trojans this year and enter the meet with the following seeds:


  • Day 2, 500 Freestyle — 19th seed, 4:13.84
  • Day 4, 1650 Freestyle — 3rd seed, 14:37.74
  • Day 4, 200 Butterfly — 14th seed, 1:41.20


  • Day 3, 100 Butterfly — 46th seed, 46.06
  • Day 3, 100 Backstroke — 45th seed, 46.84
  • Day 4, 200 Butterfly — 9th seed, 1:40.63

Both swimmers will have doubles to deal with throughout the week, but Krzysztof’s 1650 free/200 fly double is particularly notable. He’s scheduled to compete in the final heat of the 1650 free, which will occur as the first swim of the day four finals session, so he’ll have to swim the 1650 prior to the 200 fly (assuming he safely advances in the top 16). The 1650 has been his best event so far this season, and given it’ll occur before the 200 fly, it’ll be hard to be a top contender in the A-final if he makes it.

Michal will be much fresher for this 200 fly, and he’s had more success in the event so far this season. He’s been in the 1:54-range in the LCM pool on a few separate occasions since arriving at USC, so while long course seems to be the focus for both of them this year, another drop in the small pool could see him into the A-final.

Other Contenders

  • Andrei Minakov (Stanford) — While Andrei Minakov usually swims the sprints at NCAAs (50 free, 100 fly, 100 free), he has dropped the 100 free in favor of the 200 fly this year. On January 19th, in a dual meet versus ASU, Minakov ripped a 1:38.63 in the event to rank #2 overall this season. He backed that up with a slightly faster time of 1:38.61 about a month later at a meet against Cal. Both of those times would’ve won the national title for the past three years, but the only problem is that Kharun has been sub-1:38 this year. Minakov is a safe bet for 2nd if he’s healthy, but he did pull out of the Pac-12 Championships for undisclosed reasons.
  • Alexander Colson (Arizona State) — Alexander Colson of ASU is seeded 10th with a season-best 1:40.78, but owns a best time of 1:39.55 to his name from the 2023 Pac-12 Championships. The Sun Devils have showed out all season, and they’re predicted to have a lot of momentum coming into the final day of these championships, so it wouldn’t be all too surprising to see Colson near his lifetime best and snag an A-final spot.
  • Martin Espernberger (Tennessee) — Tennessee sophomore Martin Espernberger is ranked 8th on the entry sheet with a time of 1:40.47, which represents his current best time. If he’s anywhere around that range again in Indianapolis, he should advance to the A-final, but there are quite a few swimmers ranked lower that have faster personal bests. He dropped a best time in prelims last year to place 9th, and has a lot of momentum with his recent SEC title paired with a World Championship bronze medal from February.
  • Noah Bowers (NC State) — At the ACC Championships, Noah Bowers recorded his first ever sub-1:40 swim in the 200 fly. He stopped the clock in 1:39.65 for the win, defeating the defending NCAA Champion (Aiden Hayes) by almost two seconds. If he can replicate his performance at NCAAs, he should easily make the ‘A’ final, and another drop could throw him into the top 3 conversation.
  • Brad Prolo (Brigham Young) — Graduate student Brad Polo of Brigham Young won the Big 12 title with a new personal best time of 1:41.15, and that swim ranks him 13th on the psych sheets. He’ll need to make another drop to challenge for the A-final, but a time near his best from Big 12s will earn him a B-final berth.


1 Ilya Kharun Arizona State 1:37.93 1:37.93
2 Andrei Minakov Stanford 1:38.61 1:38.61
3 Dare Rose California 1:39.76 1:39.76
4 Aiden Hayes NC State 1:41.31 1:38.79
5 Brendan Burns Indiana 1:40.24 1:38.71
6 Gal Cohen Groumi Michigan 1:39.60 1:39.60
7 Gabriel Jett  California 1:41.33 1:39.27
8 Tomer Frankel Indiana 1:39.80 1:39.80

Darkhorse: Jake Magahey (Georgia) — Georgia senior Jake Magahey is ranked 15th on this year’s entry list, but it’s a relatively new event for him. Magahey usually swims the 1650 freestyle on the final day of the competition, paired with his patented 200 and 500 freestyle distances. However, this year, he’s dropped both the 200 free and 1650 free in favor of the 400 IM and 200 fly. His best time (1:41.28) comes from the SEC Championships, where he ranked 3rd overall, and it’s entirely possible that he drops another chunk of time in his newfound event to make the A-final.

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Fast and Furious
3 months ago

A better title for Groumi and Frankel’s section would’ve just been “The Israelis”

3 months ago

Time for King Cong’s record to fall

Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
3 months ago

I don’t think Kharun gets it. Dropping a 1:37 low at the end of a grueling 4 day meet is harder than it seems on paper. Taper doesn’t do much good to Kharun either

Justin Pollard
Reply to  Andrew
3 months ago

Agree with you on that.

1650 bests
Reply to  Justin Pollard
3 months ago

Not sure exactly what you are referencing, and on what basis, Justin. Must have been desperate to have to agree with Andrew.

Ilya swam well, generally, during the season, but when you swim 1:37.93 in a dual meet, you don’t have to have your taper produce huge drops, just steady advance, and Conger can be had.

I think the real key for Kharun is the race. Kharun went undefeated in the 200 Fly through a dual and conference schedule including Georgia, NC State, USC, NC State Invite, Stanford, Cal and Arizona. That list includes a pretty high number of the teams/200 Fly stars noted in the article.

Minakov controlled his race with Ilya at the 50, 100, and 150 (21.96;… Read more »

Reply to  Andrew
3 months ago

I really hope he doesn’t, but seems the momentum’s on his side. Hope you’re right though, haha

3 months ago

Cannot believe Chmielewski is actually attempting the 1650 free/200 fly double, has someone else done that before with some success?

Reply to  Adrian
3 months ago

Brooks Fail at least a few times.

Reply to  Adrian
3 months ago

The Brooks Fail patented double

Reply to  Andrew
3 months ago

My Alma Mater needs a dozen Fails and a new coach. Please. Soon.

3 months ago

Kharun will win. As far as the record, he may get it or he may not. It should be close. However, he’s a freshman and it’s the Olympic year (LCM focus). Even if he misses it this year, he will absolutely obliterate it by time he is done with the NCAA.

Reply to  saltie
3 months ago

And Heilman is entering the NCAA soon. Combined they could take the record very low

Reply to  Facts
3 months ago

He still has a few more years… There should only be one year of overlap.

3 months ago

Is Kharun historically a big taper swimmer?

Reply to  Swummer
3 months ago

Not particularly. He drops around 0.5-0.8 compared to in-season times. That should be enough, however, to break the NCAA record.

Reply to  Swummer
3 months ago

Is historical taper even a good metric. He’s in a diff training environment, they prob taper differently as well so hard to draw conclusions

Reply to  Facts
3 months ago

Every meet is a taper with a suit. Takes pure stones to do it this week.

1650 bests
Reply to  Howie
3 months ago

After watching him all year, I believe your p.s. description applies to Ilya.