2018 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 21 – Saturday, March 24
- Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Defending champion: Texas (3x) (results)
- Psych Sheet
- Live results
- Championship Central
- Live stream: Wednesday/Thursday Finals, All Prelims on BTN2GO; Friday/Saturday Finals on WatchESPN
- Thursday prelims heat sheet
The 2017 NCAA Championships were fast. When looking back on that meet it can difficult to see beyond Caeleb Dressel‘s 40.00 in 100 free or his 43.58 in the 100 fly, or Texas’s 2:59.22 in the 400 medley relay, but the 500 freestyle was also incredible.
Clark Smith broke the American Record with a 4:08.42 (though the record has since be lowered again by Zane Grothe), and he had to fight hard to fend off teammate Townley Haas, the 2016 champion in the 500, and Michigan’s Felix Auboeck. All three men broke the 4:09 barrier, with Haas touching in 4:08.92 and Auboeck in 4:08.95. Fourth through seventh were all 4:10s, and eighth still an impressive 4:11.73.
But let’s talk prelims of the 500 at the 2017 NCAA Championships. Of last year’s top 8 qualifiers, three went 4:09s, one went a 4:10, two more went 4:11, and the final ‘A’ qualifier, NC State’s Anton Ipsen, was 4:12.18. Places ninth through sixteenth were also quick: 4:12.36 and 4:14.09, respectively, with a total of two swimmers at 4:12, three at 4:13, and the others all under 4:14.1.
This year, however, there is only one swimmer at 4:12 in the ‘B’ final: Cal’s Sean Grieshop with a 4:12.94, while there are again three swimmers at 4:13 and four at 4:14, with the sixteenth seed sitting at a 4:14.98.
In regards to this year’s top 8, not one swimmer broke 4:10 in the prelims. Tonight’s top seed, Michigan’s Felix Auboeck, sits at a 4:10.83 going into tonight’s finals. Auboeck is joined in the final by two swimmers at 4:11 and five at 4:12.
Compared to last year, the 2018 championship and consolation finals of the 500 free are lacking in depth. Specifically, they are lacking in the number of swimmers under 4:10 in the prelims: three in 2017 versus zero in 2018.
Someone will likely go under 4:10 this evening–Haas, Auboeck, and South Carolina’s Akaram Mahmoud all have in the past–but no one did in prelims. Whatever buoyed the 500 last year may have worn off, bringing the event back down to Earth.