2024 Men’s Big Ten Fan Guide: Indiana Poised For A Three-Peat In Burns’ Conference Finale

2024 Men’s Big Ten Championships

  • Dates: February 28 – March 2, 2024
  • Location: McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion – Columbus, Ohio
  • Teams: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
  • Defending champions: Indiana (2x)
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Championship Central
  • Live Results
  • Live Video: B1G+

EVENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday (2/28)

  • 200 medley relay
  • 800 free relay

Thursday (2/29)

  • 500 freestyle
  • 200 IM
  • 50 freestyle
  • 1-meter diving
  • 400 medley relay

Friday (3/1)

  • 100 butterfly
  • 400 IM
  • 200 freestyle
  • 100 breaststroke
  • 100 backstroke
  • 3-meter diving
  • 200 freestyle relay

Saturday (3/2)

  • 1650 freestyle (timed finals)
  • 200 backstroke
  • 100 freestyle
  • 200 breaststroke
  • 200 butterfly
  • Platform diving
  • 400 freestyle relay

2023 FINAL TEAM SCORES

  1. Indiana, 1595.5
  2. Ohio State, 1290.5
  3. Michigan, 1163
  4. Wisconsin, 1014.5
  5. Minnesota, 785
  6. Purdue, 704.5
  7. Northwestern, 618
  8. Penn State, 577

Led by elite diving and yet another tour de force from Brendan Burns, the Indiana men rolled to a second consecutive Big Ten Championship title last season, topping runner-up Ohio State by more than 300 points.

Both the Hoosiers and Buckeyes are in a good position this season, while last year’s 3rd-place finishers from Michigan, which won back-to-back titles in 2020 and 2021, come in after turning over essentially their entire staff.

And although not as seismic as the changes we’re seeing in other conferences, next season will look a bit different as the USC Trojans join the fold.

STARS

INDIANA – Brendan Burns (5th-fly/back), Tomer Frankel (SR-free/fly), Rafael Miroslaw (JR-free), Josh Matheny (JR-breast), Jassen Yep (SR-breast), Carson Tyler (JR-diving)

It’s difficult to narrow the list of Indiana’s “stars” to five or six athletes given not only how many established names they have, but also the group of swimmers who could have a breakout showing at the meet.

The swimmer who has performed time and time again on the big stage for the Hoosiers is Brendan Burns, who comes into his fifth and final Big Tens as the defending four-time champion in the 200 fly, the three-time champion in the 200 back, and the two-time champion in the 100 back. Burns leads the conference in both backstrokes this season and it would be a major upset if he lost the 200 fly, where he sits 2nd in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Gal Cohen Groumi.

Indiana senior Tomer Frankel will be in the hunt in both fly events alongside Cohen Groumi and Burns in the 200, while junior Rafael Miroslaw is a title threat in the 100 and 200 free and the Hoosiers’ top option for the free relays. Perhaps flying under the radar, Singaporean freshman Mikkel Lee will be dangerous in the 50 and 100 free.

IU is incredibly stacked in breaststroke, and although last year’s breakout fifth-year Van Mathias is no longer in the mix, the team has the top returning swimmer in both the 100 and 200 breast, Josh Matheny, along with 2023-24 conference leaders Finn Brooks (100 breast) and Jassen Yep (200 breast).

The diving corps lost Andrew Capobianco but remains elite, led by junior Carson Tyler who is the defending champion on both 1-meter and platform.

MICHIGAN – Gal Cohen Groumi (JR-fly/free), Eitan Ben Shitrit (SO-IM), Bence Szabados (SR-free/fly), Jack Wilkening (SO-back)

Gal Cohen Groumi is Michigan’s version of Burns, capable of sweeping his individual events while being incredibly versatile. The defending champion in the 100 fly and 200 IM, Groumi leads the conference in both those events this season along with the 200 fly, where he’ll have a chance to upend Burns’ shot at a fifth straight victory. Groumi finished seven-tenths back of Burns in the 2023 final in 1:40.21, and has already been 1:40.54 this season (to Burns’ 1:40.78).

Eitan Ben Shitrit earned a pair of third-place finishes as a freshman in the 200 and 400 IM, and has showed improvement across the board this season as he ranks top five in the conference in four events. He’ll likely race the 200 back along with the IMs, but he’s also a very valuable asset for the Wolverines on the 800 free relay.

Another sophomore, Jack Wilkening was an exhibition swimmer at the 2023 Big Tens but has come into his own this season, hitting lifetime bests in the 100 back (45.86) and 200 back (1:42.56) at the Georgia Fall Invite to rank 3rd and 4th in the conference, respectively.

Senior Bence Szabados was .05 shy of the title last season in the 50 free, and will be the top returner this season with the graduation of Van Mathias. That 19.05 showing remains Szabados’ lifetime best, but he still ranks atop the conference with his 19.22 showing from the Georgia Fall Invite, where he also logged a PB of 42.57 in the 100 free.

MINNESOTA – Bar Soloveychik (JR-free), Kaiser Neverman (SR-IM/fly/free), Davide Harabagiu (FR-fly), William Christenson (SR-IM)

No team in the conference will feel a bigger hole in its roster during the postseason than Minnesota, which lost star breaststroker Max McHugh to graduation after an unbelievable run with the Gophers.

Minnesota’s new best bet for a Big Ten title likely comes from junior Bar Soloveychik, who ranks 3rd in the conference in the 500 free, 4th in the mile and 6th in the 200 free this season. He was the runner-up last year in both the 500 and 1650. The swimmer who beat him in the 500, Wisconsin’s Jake Newmark, has taken more of a backstroke approach this season, so there may be opportunity there, while in the mile Soloveychik figures to be the #2 man behind OSU’s Charlie Clark.

Senior Kaiser Neverman is a bit of a jack of all trades, having locked up his first NCAA qualification last season after a 1:42.56 swim in the 200 fly at the Minnesota Last Chance Meet, but he also came within striking distance of earning an invite in the 200 IM earlier in the season. So far in 2023-24, Neverman ranks 6th in the conference in the 200 fly and 7th in the 100 breast, having evolved his game in the latter event (52.80) following McHugh’s departure.

Italian freshman Davide Harabagiu fired off a PB of 45.94 in the 100 fly at the Minnesota Invite to make himself a likely ‘A’ finalist, while senior William Christenson made the top eight last season in the 400 IM and will be in the hunt to do so again as the 6th fastest in the conference (3:47.20).

NORTHWESTERN – David Gerchik (FR-back), Diego Nosack (FR-IM), Kevin Houseman (5th-breast), Andrew Martin (5th-distance free)

The Northwestern men have been rejuvenated with the addition of a strong freshman class that’s headlined by Israel’s David Gerchik, who’s the 2nd-fastest swimmer in the conference this season in the 200 back (1:41.92) behind Brendan Burns. Gerchik will also fight for a second swim in the 100 back, as will fellow first-year Aaron Baltaytis, with both having been sub-47 this season.

The freshman group also features Diego Nosack, who ranks 4th in the 400 IM and is the vicinity of a top-eight spot in the 200 fly and 200 IM, and sprinter Cade Duncan, who will be a crucial relay piece for the Wildcats and has been 42.8 in the 100 free to put him in the hunt for an ‘A’ final.

Coupled with the freshman class are fifth-years Kevin Houseman and Andrew Martin. Houseman has made three consecutive ‘A’ finals in the 100 breast and ranks 5th this season, while Martin, who came over from Xavier, is 3rd in the 1650 this season and also had the pedigree to challenge for top-eight finishes in the 200 and 500 free.

OHIO STATE – Charlie Clark (SR-distance free), Ruslan Gaziev (5th-free), Tristan Jankovics (SO-IM), Tomas Navikonis (SO-free), Lyle Yost (5th-diving)

At least in the Big Ten, the Ohio State men are “Freestyle U”, owning the top sprinter in Ruslan Gaziev, the top distance swimmer in Charlie Clark, and a strong supporting cast that includes the fastest swimmer in the conference the 500, Tomas Navikonis, and the 1650, Sam Campbell.

Gaziev is the defending champion in the 100 free and was elite last year at NCAAs, joining the sub-41 club in 40.98. After going 42.36 at the OSU Invite in November, he was 42.04 one month ago at the Tim Welsh Classic indicating he’s trending the right direction as he takes over the #1 ranking in the event heading to Big Tens. He also 4th in the 50 and 200.

Clark redshirted the first half of the season but returned with a solid 4:18.5 in the 500 at the Tim Welsh Classic before racing to a 10th-place finish in the LC 1500 at the 2024 Worlds in Doha (14:57.44). With Campbell ranking 1st and Alex Metzler 2nd in the conference right now in the 1650, and Clark having yet to race the event this season, the Buckeyes could easily sweep the podium.

Navikonis was 4th in the 200 and 11th in both the 100 and 500 free last season as a freshman, and has elevated his game in the 500 in his sophomore campaign, dropping a 4:15.65 clocking at the OSU Invite to lead the Big Ten, just ahead of teammate Alex Axon (4:16.00). Like Clark, Navikonis, who is also 1:33-mid in the 200 free, is coming off racing in Doha, where he set a PB of 49.00 in the LC 100 free and had a pair of 1:47 200 free relay splits.

On top of the freestyle depth, the Buckeyes also have sophomore Tristan Jankovics leading the conference in the 400 IM and sitting 2nd in the 200 IM this season, while fifth-year Chachi Gustafson should repeat as an ‘A’ finalist in the 200 fly.

Indiana is still the premier diving team in the conference, but the Buckeyes boast the reigning 1-meter NCAA champion in Lyle Yost, plus Clay Chaplin who piled up points with three top-fives last season at Big Tens.

PENN STATE – Victor Baganha (JR-free/fly), Mariano Lazzerini (SO-breast), Cooper Morley (SO-back), Lachlan Byrne (SR-back)

Penn State is spearheaded by Brazilian junior Victor Baganha, who was the team’s lone representative at the 2023 NCAAs.

Baganha is a perennial threat in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly, with his highest finish last season coming in at 4th in the 100 fly. He currently ranks 3rd in the Big Ten in the 50 free (19.26) and 100 fly (45.37), and could legitimately win the 50 conference title with a relatively wide-open field and a 19.10 career best.

The Lions have no others within range of a title, but there’s a group of swimmers who are good bets to make an ‘A’ final or two. Chilean sophomores Mariano Lazzerini (both breaststrokes) and Eduardo Cisternas (distance free), along with Kiwi sophomore Cooper Morley and Aussie senior Lachlan Byrne in the backstrokes, will help supplement points for the squad.

PURDUE – Brady Samuels (JR-free/fly/back), Jordan Rzepka (JR-diving), Sam Bennett (JR-diving), Dylan Burau (SO-back)

Purdue is dealing with a significant departure in Nick Sherman, who led the team in points last season at Big Tens and was a key relay contributor. That loss puts even more onus on junior Brady Samuels, the lone Boilermaker to score a point at the 2023 NCAAs.

Samuels cracked the consolation final at NCAAs in the 100 back in 2023 and was 4th in the event at Big Tens while adding a 5th-place finish in the 100 free. This season, he ranks 2nd in the conference in the 100 back, 3rd in the 100 free and 6th in the 50 free, and he’ll be called upon for both big individual points and clutch relay swims.

Purdue’s diving duo of Jordan Rzepka and Sam Bennett keeps the team in the fight to avoid 8th place, having combined foe 118 points at the 2023 Big Tens to rank 2-4 in team scoring.

Sophomore Dylan Burau has shown progress this season and now ranks inside the top eight in the 200 back, while senior Coleman Modglin was 10th in the prelims of both breaststrokes in 2023 and will be eyeing to push through to the big heat this year.

WISCONSIN – Dominik Mark Torok (SO-IM/fly), Jake Newmark (SR-free/back), Tai Torepe-Ormsby (SO-free), Andrew Benson (SR-free/breast), Luukas Vainio (FR-free)

Wisconsin’s top performer last year going away was Jake Newmark, who swept the 200 and 500 free and was also the runner-up in the 200 back at Big Tens. This season, Newmark has barely raced the freestyle events (including zero 500s since he was 4th at NCAAs), and has had more of a backstroke focus. If he’s on good form and races the free events, he likely wins, but if he’s in the 100 back instead of the 200 free, for example, he’s more of a fringe ‘A’ finalist. In the 200 back, he can probably snag 2nd behind Burns again if he’s back in the 1:40 range.

Sophomore Dominik Mark Torok sits 3rd in the conference this season in both the 200 fly and 400 IM, and is the defending champion in the latter. He’ll get a challenge from OSU’s Jankovics in the 400 IM this season, but remains the favorite having been sub-3:40.

Andrew Benson is a well-rounded freestyler who will be key on the relays, while Tai Torepe-Ormsby has emerged as title contender in the 50 free after hitting a PB of 19.24 at the Texas Invitational. Finnish freshman Luukas Vainio is another name to watch after going 1:34.7 in the 200 free in November.

RACES TO WATCH

500 Free

A lot of what happens in the 500 free hinges on Jake Newmark, who is capable of winning a third straight title despite not racing the event at all this season (we just saw Alex Walsh do this in the 200 fly).

Newmark won the title last season in 4:12.96, and then went 4:10.12 at NCAAs. So far this season, OSU’s Tomas Navikonis (4:15.65) and Alex Axon (4:16.00) lead the conference, while Minnesota’s Bar Soloveychik and Buckeye Charlie Clark, who were 2nd and 3rd last year, rank 3-4.

The race is essentially ripe for the taking—something that did not appear to be the case when Ahmed Hafnaoui joined Indiana in the fall—and should be must-see, with Wisconsin’s Yigit Aslan, Indiana’s Warren Briggs among the others to watch.

Of course, if Newmark enters and is on form, this race could be a snoozer, but even that outcome makes this a race to watch, as no one can predict if that’s on the table or not.

100 Breast

After four years of dominance from Max McHugh, the 100 breast is wide open for the first time in a long time at Big Tens.

The middle lanes in the final might end up looking like an Indiana practice, but it should be a tantalizing showdown regardless with Finn Brooks, Jassen Yep, Josh Matheny and Maxwell Reich all between 51.34 and 51.87 this season.

Matheny is the top returner from last season, having placed 3rd behind McHugh and teammate Van Mathias. He also broke 51 seconds in the NCAA consols, while Yep was 5th at Big Tens and Reich was 9th from the ‘B’ final.

Northwestern’s Kevin Houseman has also been as fast as 51.23, and was fast 51.90 in last year’s final for 4th.

As for Brooks, he was 3rd in the 100 fly last year and also raced the sprint free events, so it remains to be seen if he even races the 100 breast, despite leading the conference, given how loaded IU is there. His PB of 51.34 also came out of nowhere earlier this month.

200 Fly

Brendan Burns could be going into his last session of conference championship competition having gone undefeated individually for three straight meets, with a chance to go nine-for-nine dating back to 2022 and a perfect five-for-five in the 200 fly.

Of course, he’ll have to get through the 100 back, and then the 200 back at the beginning of Saturday’s session. But after that, regardless of the backstroke results, a five-peat will be on the line in the 200 fly.

It’s his best event, but Burns faces no easy task in Michigan’s Gal Cohen Groumi.

Groumi turned just 17 one-hundredths back of Burns at the 150 before falling off a tad over the final two lengths at Big Tens last year, with Burns clocking 1:39.51 and Groumi touching in 1:40.21.

This season, Groumi (1:40.54) leads Burns (1:40.78) in the conference rankings.

At the 2023 NCAAs, Burns went sub-1:39, so there’s no doubt he has a higher ceiling, but the question will be if he can toe the line of a semi-taper while being fast enough to win a fifth straight crown.

IU’s Tomer Frankel was also in the thick of things last year (1:40.97 for 3rd) and will be in the mix, as will Wisconsin’s Dominik Mark Torok, who set a PB of 1:41.76 in November.

Fatigue can also play a role with this grueling event coming at the tail end of the last day of competition, so anything can happen.

SWIMSWAM’S PICKS

  1. Indiana
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Northwestern
  6. Minnesota
  7. Purdue
  8. Penn State

The Swimulator predicts Indiana to run away with a third straight title without even factoring in their diving prowess, so 1st place isn’t in question.

Despite massive losses in Van Mathias, Andrew Capobianco and the midseason departure of Ahmed Hafnaoui, the Hoosiers have stars and depth that towers over the conference.

Behind them, we may see a close battle for 2nd, but diving tips the scales towards Ohio State over Michigan. The Wolverines are projected to outscore the Buckeyes by three points in the pool, but OSU diving is far superior—last year, Ohio State had four divers score 50+ points and Michigan had one.

Wisconsin looks like a safe bet to hold onto 4th, while Northwestern is set to climb the ranks thanks to their impressive freshman class as Minnesota loses big points from Max McHugh. Diving should propel Purdue ahead of Penn State.

In This Story

12
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

12 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Whos Your
1 month ago

A storms a brewing in Columbus…

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

Throwback to when Max McHugh, in breaststroke, split faster than his flyer in the 200 medley relay at NCAA’s last year

Badtothebone
Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

His flyer at NCAA went 20.57, Max was 22.39…where do you get this info from?

Andrew
Reply to  Badtothebone
1 month ago

dudes just be yapping

Geaux Tigers
1 month ago

To put it bluntly, I don’t think Michigan will do very well without Wyatt Davis rolling into B1Gs and smoking the competition

Andrew
Reply to  Geaux Tigers
1 month ago

lmfao

Oldmanswimmer
Reply to  Geaux Tigers
1 month ago

At least they’ve done a good job developing Jack Wilkening (sp?).

Aragon Son of Arathorne
1 month ago

Respect to Brendan Burns. He is a scy legend. It tears me apart to see swimmers like this unable to maintain this level of success in the long pool. He has worked for it

Last edited 1 month ago by Aragon Son of Arathorne
IU Swammer
Reply to  Aragon Son of Arathorne
1 month ago

It’s too bad there aren’t more SCM competitions. Still hoping the ISL comes back. Burns would be great at that.

IU Swammer
1 month ago

Will Finn Brooks swim the 100 breast or 100 fly? Maybe he swims the fly here to snag a few more points but swims breast at NCAAs.

MarshFAN
Reply to  IU Swammer
1 month ago

Could be the best name parents ever picked for a future swimmer?

SC3
Reply to  IU Swammer
1 month ago

Finn’s fourth ever 100 breaststroke being at NCs is insane to think about

Last edited 1 month ago by SC3

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »