2017 MEN’S NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 22 – Saturday, March 25
- IUPUI Natatorium – Indianapolis, IN
- Prelims 10AM/Finals 6PM (Eastern Time)
- Defending Champion: Texas (results)
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheet
- Live stream: Wednesday/Thursday Prelims & Finals, Friday/Saturday Prelims / Friday/Saturday finals on ESPN3
- Event Previews
- Live Results
Tonight’s finals session provided just too many storylines to cover, so we’re dishing them out rapid fire – here are 5 Big Things from Thursday night’s finals session:
1. NC State Lives And Dies By The Exchanges
For years, relay exchanges were NC State’s biggest weapon and biggest weakness. The Wolfpack stormed onto the NCAA scene partially through a tendency to push relay exchanges to their extreme in speed particularly in the 200 free relay. That led to DQs of that relay in back-to-back years that wiped out a pair of national titles, but also led to some of the NCAA’s fastest swims.
Tonight, though, the exact opposite was true. A program once known for pushing exchanges left almost a full second on the blocks in relay exchanges. If the reaction times listed on live results are correct, NC State’s reaction times in tonight’s 200 free relay were 0.25 (Andreas Schiellerup), 0.11 (Justin Ress) and 0.61 (Scott Johnson). Added up, that totals 0.97 seconds. That margin would have moved NC State up to second place instead of the fourth they finished.
Of course, that assumes perfect relay exchanges, which isn’t a reality. And it’s hard to believe Johnson really had a 0.61 reaction, which is on par with a flat-start 50 and four or more tenths slower than a good relay exchange. Johnson’s exchange looked visibly slow, though, even if it wasn’t 0.61 slow.
2. The 18 Club Expanding Rapidly
Today’s meet featured a clown car full of swimmers hitting 18-second 50 freestyles, whether from flat starts or relay starts. Once a hallowed barrier, the 19.0 bar fell 25 times in prelims – 19 in the 200 free relay and 6 in the individual 50 free. Then at night, the 200 free relay featured 20 splits of 18.99 or better, plus 6 more individual swims.
Of course, many of those swims were done by the same swimmer, like Florida’s Caeleb Dressel, who cracked 19.0 four times by himself today: 17.99 on the relay in prelims, 18.38 individually in prelims, 18.23 leading off the relay in finals and 18.23 again in his individual final.
By our count, 30 different men broke 19 at some point today, together accounting for 51 different sub-19 swims.
3. Where’s Waldo, aka Dressel?
Speaking of Dressel, tonight’s 400 medley relay served as another round of everyone’s favorite yearly game: what leg is Caeleb Dressel swimming?
Dressel swam breaststroke for Florida last year, going 51.80 to cover his team’s biggest weakness. This morning, he swam freestyle, splitting 40.56 to rattle the fastest 100 free split in history. Then tonight, Florida went way outside the box, throwing him into butterfly, where he put up a 44.33. That experiment didn’t work great, as Florida dropped to 8th and gained seven tenths, but it did showcase Dressel’s legendary versatility.
4. Texas (almost) Sweep
It was almost all Longhorns atop the podium tonight. Texas swept both the 200 free relay and 400 medley relay, setting a U.S. Open record in the latter. Meanwhile Clark Smith and Townley Haas went 1-2 in the 500 free and Will Licon tied for the 200 IM title.
That left Texas winning 4 of 5 swimming events. The Longhorns have won 4 of 7 total events so far in the meet and lead by a wide margin.
5. Steele Johnson Returns To The Top In Battle of Champions
Sure, we’re not DiveDove, but even we were intrigued by tonight’s 1-meter diving event, which featured the past three NCAA champs all competing head-to-head for the first time. 2015 champ Steele Johnson won for Purdue, returning from a redshirt season. Second went to 2014 champ Michael Hixon, also coming off a redshirt year for Indiana. And 2016 champ Liam Stone of Tennessee was 4th, finishing behind yet another huge redshirt diver, James Connor of Indiana.