2024 M. NCAA Previews: New Sub-1:31s Aiming to Cut In On Hobson-Jett Duo


MEN’S 200 Freestyle

  • U.S. Open Record: 1:29.15 — Dean Farris, Harvard (2019)
  • American Record: 1:29.15 — Dean Farris, Harvard (2019)
  • NCAA Record: 1:29.15 — Dean Farris, Harvard (2019)
  • 2023 NCAA Champion: Luke Hobson, Texas — 1:30.43

Comparing these psych sheets to the last few years of results, one theme emerges: there’s been a lot of turnover. Back in 2021, no freshmen made the ‘A’ final. Five made the ‘B’ final, but only two of those have made the championship heat in the two years since, and only one of those guys, Coby Carrozza, is still swimming the event this season. 

Move up one more year to 2022, and only one ‘A’ finalist, Louisville’s Murilo Sartori, will be swimming this week in Indianapolis. 

Compared to last year, there’s a little better stability, as half of last year’s ‘A’ finalists return, but the overall point remains — this is an event that has seen a lot of change the last few years, even as the top times have stalled out a bit. Only two men have gone 1:29 on a flat start since Dean Farris set the fastest time ever at 1:29.15 five years ago. One of those, Kieran Smith, has turned pro, and the other is…

The Defending Champion 

Luke Hobson took a massive leap forward last year, leading off the Longhorns’ record-setting 800 free relay in 1:29.63, tied for the 4th-fastest time in history, and then winning the 500 free and 200 free individually. He also represented the USA at the last two World Aquatics Championships and has become yet another Lonhgorn lynchpin of the USA 4×200 free team.

He’s “only” seeded 8th this year, but that’s exactly where he was seeded last year. For some swimmers with Olympic aspirations, you might be reasonably concerned that keeping an eye on this summer may mean they’re not quite on their ‘A’ game at NCAAs, but the Longhorns have swum lights-out at the last two NCAAs that coincided with Olympics, so expect Hobson to be right around his best.

Other Returning ‘A’ Finalists 

Cal’s Gabriel Jett pushed Hobson at last year’s final, and finished 2nd as the only other swimmer to get under 1:31 (1:30.74). Like several other Cal swimmers, he skipped Pac-12s in favor of the Westmont PSS stop, so his seed time of 1:31.78 comes from the Cal vs ASU dual meet in January. That time is faster than he was in-season last year (1:32.41), so he looks like a safe bet to duel with Hobson once again.

Bob Bowman knows a thing or two about coaching 200m swimmers, so it wasn’t too surprising to see multiple Sun Devil swimmers in last year’s ‘A’ final. Grant House had been a force in this event since high school, but Julian Hill and Patrick Sammon both had strong improvement curves during their time in Tempe. Hill was 1:35.14 coming out of high school, and clocked a lifetime best of 1:31.74 in last year’s prelims before finishing 6th in the final in 1:32.25. Sammon went from 1:37.36 to 1:33.08 as a freshman, hit a personal best of 1:31.82 at Pac-12s last year, and finished 7th at NCAAs in 1:32.61. His 1:31.87 at Pac-12s a few weeks ago essentially matched his overall best, so he looks to be on form once again.

We’ll circle back to Hobson’s teammate, Coby Carrozza, who has now scored in this event at each of the last three NCAAs, culminating in an 8th-place finish last year. This season he’s seeded 14th at 1:31.97 from his 800 free leadoff at Big 12s. He’s made a habit of hitting season bests at NCAAs, so while he’s not a lock to make the ‘A’ final again, he’s definitely one that should move up from his seeding.

Louisville’s Murilo Sartori, a Brazilian Olympian, made ‘A’ final as a freshman at 1:31.99 in 2022, and has yet to replicate that time in the last two seasons. However, there is some room for optimism, as his 1:32.25 at ACCs last month was a bit faster than his ACCs time from 2022 (1:32.38).

Sprint Sensations

The 200 is always a weird event due to the mix of distance guys swimming down and sprinters swimming up. And this year the sprinters are out in force.

McGuire McDuff (photo: Jack Spitser)

We’ve gone this far without even mentioning the man who sits atop the psych sheet this season, and that’s Florida Macguire McDuff. He knocked almost a whole second off of his lifetime best with a 1:30.64 at SECs. Last year, McDuff was 1:32.24 at SECs, then led off Florida’s NCAA 800 free relay in 1:31.56, a time that comfortably would’ve made the ‘A’ final had he replicated it in prelims. Instead, he went 1:32.94 and missed scoring completely. That does seem likely to happen again this year, as he’s got a comfortable enough margin that he could be off his best by the better part of a second and still make the ‘A’ final.

Chris Guiliano has been leading the Fighting Irish’s ascendance as one the breakout swimmers of the season, sweeping the 50/100/200 free at ACCs. He hit a new personal best of 1:31.16 while leading off Notre Dame’s 800 free relay, then he matched that time to the hundredth to win the individual event. That puts him at #3 on the psych sheet and in prime position move up into the ‘A’ final after winning the ‘B’ final last year.

Given his prowess in the 100 fly, it was a bit surprising to see Jordan Crooks swim the 200 free at SECs. But he excelled in that event, clocking 1:31.17 to get him the #5 seed, which matches where he finished in the 100 fly last year.

Cal’s Jack Alexy broke out in long course last summer with silver medals in the 50 and the 100 free at Worlds, and he’s followed that up with a five-second improvement in his 200-yard freestyle this season, going from 1:37.78 to 1:32.74. It took 1:32.61 to score last year, so he’s no lock, but the fact that Cal moved him from the 100 back, where he finished 18th last year, to this event indicates that the coaching staff is confident he has some more room to improve.

Other Contenders

Like McDuff, last year Alabama’s Charlie Hawke was faster leading off the 800 free relay (1:31.87) than he was in prelims (1:32.42). Still, he’s got a cushion after hitting a new lifetime best of 1:30.75 at SECs.

Jake Mitchell seems to be finding his groove at Florida, and he hit dipped under 1:32 for the first time with a 1:31.87 at SECs. He was even more impressive on the SEC 800 free relay, where he anchored the Gators’ relay in 1:31.19. Last year, Mitchell finished 10th in this event with a 1:32.36 and seems to be knocking on the door of an ‘A’ final appearance.

There’s a near-Pavlovian reaction to mention Matias Koski anytime the phrase “rangy freestyler” is heard, and the Georgia Bulldog alum’s younger brother Tomas Koski has been living up the family reputation this season. The freshman has improved from 1:33.85 to 1:31.93 in less than a year, putting him at #9 on the psych sheet.

Rafael Miroslaw made the ‘A’ final in the meters versions of this event at last month’s World Championships, finishing 5th with a new lifetime best of 1:45.84. The Hoosier’s season-best yards time of 1:32.03 is just a bit off of his lifetime best of 1:31.89 from 2022.

Cal’s Robin Hanson looks to be back on form after a relatively down year last season. He just hit a lifetime best of 1:31.95 at Pac-12s and seems to be back in the form he was as a freshman when he split sub-1:32 on Cal’s relay at NCAAs.

Kaique Alves didn’t qualify for NCAAs last year, but split 1:32.02 on Alabama’s 800 free relay, then punched his NCAA ticket with a 1:31.97 midseason this year at the Tennessee Invite. He followed that up with a 1:31.61 split on the Crimson Tide’s SEC 800 relay, so he had a strong showing there despite being about a second off of his midseason time individually.

A Few Freshmen

Koski aside, there’s only a handful of freshmen entered in the event, but there are some pretty intriguing names on that list. Stanford’s Henry McFadden, who made the USA 4×200 free roster for last summer’s World Championships, is seeded 16th at 1:32.03, but he split 1:30.87 on Stanford’s relay at Pac-12s. Brendan Whitfield (1:32.50) has been tearing it up this season for Virginia Tech. Daniel Diehl graduated high school early to join the NC State squad midseason, and he’s seeded 25th with a 1:32.72. Longhorn Nate Germonprez (1:33.00) is a top-ranked recruit to keep an eye on in his NCAA debut—he split 1:31.8 on the 800 free relay at Big 12s.

SwimSwam Picks:

Place Swimmer School Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Luke Hobson Texas 1:31.88 1:29.63
2 Gabriel Jett Cal 1:31.78 1:30.74
3 Chris Guiliano Notre Dame 1:31.16 1:31.16
4 Macguire McDuff Florida 1:30.64 1:30.64
5 Jordan Crooks Tennessee 1:31.17 1:31.17
6 Charlie Hawke Alabama 1:30.75 1:30.75
7 Patrick Sammon Arizona State 1:31.87 1:31.82
8 Coby Carrozza Texas 1:31.97 1:31.97

Darkhorse: Reese Branzell, Georgia – The Bulldog junior came into this season with a lifetime best of 1:35.35. He didn’t even make Georgia’s 800 free relay at SECs, and he then proceeded to knock three seconds off of his lifetime best with a 1:32.26 individually.

Reverse Darkhorse (Missing From The Field): Speaking of Georgia swimmers, you might’ve noticed we didn’t mention Jake Magahey, who split 1:30.96 at SECs. He’s not entered in this event, opting to go after the 400 IM instead.

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Laden Osama Bin
1 month ago

B final is about to get drilled by the chosen ones. All American honours incoming

1 month ago

Will be interesting to see how Alabama swims at NCs

Brian Fan
1 month ago

I think Ohio State is a sleeper pick for the 4 x 200. Young group of boys with really consistent splits. My guess is that it will come down to who ever is anchoring for OSU.

Don Megerle
1 month ago

I hope Marchand leads off 800 free relay!

1 month ago


Justin Pollard
1 month ago

Keaton Jones is a dark horse for a finals appearance as well. Definitely hasn’t rested & shaved for a meet this season. He’s way down the psych sheet here, so he’ll have some clean water to play with.

Reply to  Justin Pollard
1 month ago

Got to show up in prelims. It’ll take a 1:31 in the morning to make the A final.

WV Swammer
1 month ago

Kinda crazy that Dean Farris has probably one of the toughest NCAA records at the moment. Only one man within a second of him.

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 month ago

It’s a strong record, but very easy to see a world in which Marchand takes it down leading off the 800 FRR.

Did not Cali UT
Reply to  oxyswim
1 month ago

Of course he will lead off, he wants to hold all the NCAA records before he leaves …

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 month ago

I think Marchand gets it if he leads off and is in the same form as last year (though not sure he is tbh)

Reply to  Swimfan27
1 month ago

I think his freestyle at least is the same if not better compared to last year

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 month ago

Kinda crazy that Dean and his record will be under assault on Good Friday, but I’m sure come Sunday morning he will rise again as our savior. Just like the other time.

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 month ago

Not anymore!

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