25 Men’s Swimmers To Watch at D1 Conference Championships

The following conversation may or may not have actually happened:

Braden: <stifled scream> It’s the night before Power Five conference championships start in earnest, and with all our focus on Worlds last week, we didn’t get out our updated power rankings.

Robert: Well, I was going to go with a theme of “swimmers I’m keeping an eye on at conference champs” for my men’s power ranking blurbs. Should I just make that a quick standalone article?

Braden: Sure. Although people will complain that we didn’t do the same for women.

Robert: You’re probably right, but again, weird February World Championships kind of threw everything off. Hopefully the readers will understand.

Additional note: These are not necessarily the “best” or “most valuable” swimmers on each team. Rather, this is a collection of swimmers who I’m personally keeping an eye on over the next three weeks. They may have been under the radar so far, have some particularly intriguing stories, and/or have the potential to break out and make a larger impact at the conference and NCAA level than many people may have expected heading into this season. Given that criteria, this list will naturally be largely composed of top-ranked high school recruits who are either freshmen or who haven’t had the success fans may have expected thus far, recent transfers, etc. It’s 100% subjective, so please feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments section.

LSU – SEC (February 19-24)

Miami earned our #25 ranking last go around, but I’m focusing on swimmers here, and as the Hurricanes are a dive-only program, I’m going to pick a swimmer from one of our honorable mentions. Distance and open water ace Jacob Pishko originally committed to Navy, opted to go to Louisville instead, and transferred to LSU after one season with the Cardinals. He’s already hit lifetime bests in the 500 and 1650 at midseason.

BYU – Big 12 (February 27 – March 2)

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could’ve named a single BYU swimmer until about five minutes ago. However, I just discovered they have a 6’2 breaststroker named Max Cannon who just hit a one-second personal best in the 100 breast a week ago.

Arizona – Pac 12 (March 6-9)

Riley Babson probably won’t be to Arizona what fellow Denver transfer Cam Auchinachie was to Texas, but Arizona has had some relatively recent success in the distance events, Babson’s wheelhouse.

SMU – American Athletic Conference (February 22-24)

There’s a lot of interesting names on this roster, including a couple who are making their SMU championship season debut, but I can’t help but keep an eye on breaststroker Angus Corbeau after his brother (Caspar Corbeau) won a silver medal at Worlds last week.

Wisconsin – Big Ten (February 28 – March 2)

Badger fans, I’m officially not sleeping on Jake Newmark. Or any other Wisconsin swimmer. Maybe I’ll just add the entire roster to my Meet Mobile favorites if and when the Big Ten gets the meet into the app.

Florida State – ACC (February 20-24)

Peter Varjasi seems to be doing his best Van Mathias impression and switching to breaststroke as a fifth year, and I’m here for it. On paper, he shouldn’t be in the mix for an ACC title in the 100 breast, but the Seminoles have a history of randomly contravening established expectations, like they did on this memorable night at the 2019 ACC Championships.

Louisville – ACC (February 20-24)

Jackson Millard quietly moved into the top ten in the nation with a 1:39.41 in the 200 back barely two weeks ago. That should net him a NCAA invite, but it should also set him up nicely to be a big conference scorer for the Cardinals.

Alabama – SEC (February 19-24)

Back to the “Younger Brothers of a Dutch National Team Swimmer Who Competed in Doha” category. In a rivalry meet against Auburn last week, Tim Korstanje popped a 20.40 fly split on the medley relay and clocked a lifetime best of 46.80. Neither time is incredibly noteworthy on its own, but considering Korstanje is only a sophomore, and his older brother, Nyls, has some pretty stinking fast butterfly times of his own, call me intrigued.

Michigan – Big Ten (February 28 – March 2)

I’m tempted to cheat here and say Matt Bowe, but the headline says “swimmers” and not “coaches.” I feel like Bence Szabados flies under the radar a little more than a 19.0 50 freestyler should, and after he hit a lifetime best in the 100 free at midseason, I’m excited to see what else he has in store.

Virginia – ACC (February 20-24)

Sebastien Sergile didn’t have the freshman season he wanted, apparently in part due to mono, but he’s been quietly been one of UVA’s key dual meet cogs as a sophomore. He’s got the pedigree and the background to break out this week, with the potential to make three A-finals at ACCs and qualify for NCAAs.

USC – Pac 12 (March 6-9)

You might recall that Ian Pickles (and what a great name that is, especially if you remember watching Rugrats) initially committed to go to Texas before switching commitments to USC. The freshman holds lifetime bests of 20.00/43.57/1:34.89 and probably would’ve been a boon for the sprint-challenged Longhorns this season, but instead he’ll compete as part of a Trojans team that has shown some speed already this season.

Virgina Tech – ACC (February 20-24)

In what’s been a recurring theme in this post, Carl Bloebaum‘s freshman year at Virginia Tech was marred by injury. He nearly transferred in the offseason, but elected to stay in Blacksburg. Remember that he went 45.68 in the 100 fly at a high school state championship meet two years ago, and he’s at a program with some the top guys in that discipline in the nation.

Notre Dame – ACC (February 20-24)

The Fighting Irish pulled in a few transfers for this season, but Abdelrahman Elaraby has to be the most intriguing. He doesn’t sit high on the psych sheets, but he won the 50 free at ACCs last year while still at Louisville, and he has the potential to help propel Notre Dame to their best ACC finish ever.

Auburn – SEC (February 19-24)

As a freshman last year, Kalle Makinen had some really nice relay swims, including a 18.37 medley relay anchor at NCAAs, but didn’t see the same level of success individually. Sure, we love guys who show up big for relays, but it seems like Makinen still another level to unlock individually as well.

Ohio State – Big Ten (February 28 – March 2)

Charlie Clark is best-known OSU distance swimmer, and for good reason, but Mason Edmund snuck into NCAAs with a 14:53.54 at a last chance meet after going 15:05.62 at Big Tens. Surely he’ll be aiming to avoid the triple taper and qualify for NCAAs this week.

Texas A&M – SEC (February 19-24)

I nearly went with an Aggie breaststroker, but then I realized what Texas A&M really needs is some sprint success. To that end, I’ll be keeping an eye on sophomore Connor Foote, who will be trying to build off a solid freshman campaign.

Georgia – SEC (February 19-24)

Freshman Tomas Koski seems to cut from that same rangey freestyler mode as his older brother Matias, who was a lynchpin of the Bulldog teams of a decade ago. Tomas has already hit lifetime bests in the 200 free (1:32.75) and the 500 free (4:16.10) this season.

Stanford – Pac 12 (March 6-9)

Sophomore Liam Custer‘s lifetime bests in his core events are all from junior year of high school. But, he was markedly faster this midseason than he was last year, which could bode well for his spring.

Texas – Big 12 (February 27 – March 2)

Alec Filipovic made our top high school recruits list as a sophomore and junior, didn’t make our final ranks after his senior year, and then had a pretty quiet freshman campaign for the Longhorns. But he’s already hit a lifetime best in the 100 fly this season, and put up a 18.9 medley relay anchor against NC State last week. Texas needs some of returners to step up to supplement an incredibly strong freshman class, and Filipovic could fit that bill.

Tennessee – SEC (February 19-24)

Flynn Crisci left the College of William & Mary after his freshman season after the school announced it’d be cutting swimming, and he stuck with his transfer to Pitt even after W&M reinstated the team. W&M’s loss was Pitt’s gain, as Crisci improved from 55.04/2:01.57 to 51.87/1:54.50 over three seasons at Pitt. Now he’s at Tennessee as a fifth year alongside his brother Aidan, and he’ll be aiming for another chance to qualify for NCAAs.

Indiana – Big Ten (February 28 – March 2)

Billy Cruz generated headlines while swimming at Iowa Central (a junior college), but he never really made an impact at the Division 1 level while swimming for USC. He’s already been 19.27 in the 50 free this year, not too far off of his lifetime best of 19.10 from 2019.

NC State – ACC (February 20-24)

He’s not exactly under the radar, but it’s going to be fun to see what Daniel Diehl can do in just a couple months of training at NC State. The #2 recruit in the high school class of 2024 graduated high school and made a surprise debut for the Wolfpack against UVA and UNC exactly 31 days ago. It’s not like NC State needed him to win ACCs — they should do that comfortably — but he certainly could be a key piece of the Wolfpack’s Sisyphean-like effort to crack the top three at NCAAs.

Florida – SEC (February 19-24)

Scotty Buff wasn’t a midseason addition, but like Diehl, he’s not exactly an unknown. He was the top recruit in the high school class of 2023, and arrived in Florida with lifetime bests of 19.46/42.94 in the freestyles, 45.72 in the 100 back and 44.87 in the 100 fly. He definitely hasn’t had a bad season; he’s seeded at 19.72/43.85 and 47.05/46.09 in those swam four events, but he hasn’t flashed the same kind of speed as, say, Will Modglin at Texas. That’s not a knock — it just means that he has the potential to generate some headlining swims in a way he hasn’t done yet this season.

Cal – Pac 12 (March 6-9)

Assuming Brooks Curry isn’t about to make a surprise appearance for Cal at Pac-12s…Forrest Frazier was one of the top recruits in the high school class of 2020; he had the fastest 100 breast in the class, and it looked like he was primed to make a great impact for the Golden Bears. However, the senior hasn’t hit lifetime bests in his championship events since he was a freshman in 2021. Cal may need to find some magic to hold off ASU at NCAAs, and we’ve seen plenty of male swimmers come up big in their senior year.

Arizona State – Pac 12 (March 6-9)

This has taken far longer than expected, and I’m about out of humor (or attempts thereof). We’re going back to the not-at-all-under-the-radar category, especially as we’ve covered this team so much that I’m not sure we’ll see any surprises. But I really can’t wait to see what freshman Ilya Kharun does over the next six weeks. As a refresher, it seemed like he was a distance guy not all that long ago, and he’s already been 18.93/42.18 in the sprint freestyles, and 44.33/1:37.93 in the butterfly events. He seems destined to break the U.S. Open record in the 200 fly, and that could come  as soon as this meet.

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Andrew Benson
1 month ago

That’s my boy up there

1 month ago

alex metzler from osu is the goat. he will wreak havoc next week

1 month ago

Have they done a women’s version? Is that coming out soon?

Old Gopher
1 month ago

Hoping and wishing for B1G things from Kaiser Neverman – Minnesota

Luka Mijatovic’s birth certificate
1 month ago

You forgot the GOAT Joseph Pyon for byu. Watch out for that mile 😏


That would be 26 though…

1 month ago

watch out for Mitch Schott from Princeton

Reply to  jtg1990
1 month ago

Schott is a beast. Will make NCAAs in at least 200 free and 200 IM, and has an outside chance to score in both. Would have been nice to see a few more non-power five swimmers on list.

1 month ago

I don’t understand

JP input is too short
1 month ago

I’m here for Arizona’s Hand and Foote in the 200 breast.

For Cal, Nick Antoniou from Cyprus looked up and coming a few years back but has been pretty stagnant. Maybe a college taper will be good for him?

Speaking of international freshmen – Blackman from Tennessee. Could be scary sprint crew for them.

For Texas I want to see what Camden Taylor can do. Given his background he was super raw out of high school.

Florida’s freshman backstrokers… that stroke was a big weakness last year.

Want to see if NC State has a real breaststroker or if Hoover is still their best relay option there.

Finn Brooks and what he can do in his sprint breast transformation for… Read more »

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