This weekend was the second big mid-season invite weekend in the NCAA. Teams usually suit up and rest a little for these meets, so there are lots of fast swims. With so much swimming news happening over the last couple days it’s easy to miss things. To make sure you’re caught up, I compiled some highlights from this weekend.
In 1976, the US women’s national team swam an exhibition meet at West Point’s Crandall Pool. 7 American records were set, but the most memorable was 15 year old, future Olympic gold medalist Jill Sterkel‘s 100 free. Her time of 49.85 was the first time any woman had broken 50 seconds in the 100 yard free. It remained the pool record until Saturday, 42 years later, when Navy freshman Sarah Sorenson got under Sterkel’s time with a 49.82. Sorenson also broke the pool record in the 50 free (22.95, old record 22.97). Only 2 pool records now remain from that 1976 national team exhibition meet, the 800 free relay (7:15.64), and the 400 medley relay (3:49.99). One other bit of trivia: 1976 predates the existence of the Army women’s swim team by 2 years (Army added women’s swimming in 1978), so that pool record had stood for the entire existence of Army women’s swimming.
Navy won both the men’s and women’s meets vs Army (women: 199.5-100.5, men: 173-127). The men’s win was their 28th straight vs Army and raised their all time record against their rivals to 51-29. The Navy women’s win was their 30th straight over Army and raised their all time record to 33-4.
In total, the Navy women set 10 pool records in 16 events and broke 4 school and Patriot League records (Martina Thomas, 200 free 1:45.60; Lauren Barber, 100 breast 59.71, 200 breast 2:09.54; Kelly Huffer, 200 fly 1:57.06).
The men’s teams combined to break 5 pool records. Army set 10 school records, 7 by the men (200 medley 1:27.41; Tom Ottman, 1000 free 8:59.81; Kevin Lin, 200 free 1:36.50; Johnny Ellery, 200 fly 1:44.42; Tyler Kim, 200 back 1:45.04; Kevin Doo, 100 fly 47.29; Brian McKenrick, 100 back 47.56) and 3 by the women (200 medley 1:40.38; Kara Wineinger, 100 breast 1:01.43, 200 breast 2:15.42).
Texas are the four time defending NCAA champions, but they aren’t without flaws. One of their biggest weaknesses suddenly and dramatically transformed into a strength on Thursday evening when freshman Charlie Scheinfeld split a 50.73 on the 400 medley relay.
Texas had a breaststroke problem last year. Their 400 medley relay missed the A final, in part due to a relatively slow breast split. The fastest 50 breast split they could find was from now-graduated and not on top form butterflier Joseph Schooling. There wasn’t a clear fix for this hole among their freshmen.
Scheinfeld was their top breaststroke recruit, but his best time in the 100 was 53.60, a time that would have ranked 85th in division 1 last year. Not exactly an instant fix. Texas needed a breakout performance and they got it. In addition to the relay split, Scheinfeld went a 51.41 in the individual 100 breast, an A cut and the 3rd best time in the country this year. He currently ranks ahead of star freshmen Reece Whitley of Cal (51.49) and Max McHugh of Minnesota (51.73). Scheinfeld also went the #4 200 breast time in the country (1:52.78).
If Texas had been able to replace Sam Stewart’s 52.98 breast split from finals of the 400 medley relay last year with Scheinfeld’s 50.73, they would have had the 2nd best time (they were actually 9th). This year with Scheinfeld on board they are ranked 3rd in the 400 medley with a relay that didn’t include their presumed top fly and free legs John Shebat and Tate Jackson.
Before you look at Texas’s great weekend and declare them prohibitive title favorites, it’s important realize just how good Cal were this weekend. The Cal 200 medley relay put up the top time in the country (1:23.84) and their 400 medley relay went the #2 time (3:04.89), .01 behind top ranked NC State.
A top team put up some top relay times, not too surprising, right? Where things got a little crazy was their B relays. Both Cal B medleys put up the 3rd fastest times in the country (200 MR: 1:24.12, 400 MR: 3:05.10). This isn’t an obvious case of relay splitting. The A 200 medley out split the B on all 4 legs (the B 400 medley did have the faster back and breast splits). There aren’t B relays at nationals, but the depth this feat highlights will go a long way toward keeping Cal competitive with their rivals from Austin. Also, Andrew Seliskar has been the best swimmer in the country this year.
The Greyhounds were on fire at their home invitational this weekend. The women broke 8 records and the men set 2. On the first day they set 6: 400 medley relay 3:44.95; Emma Schouten, 500 free 4:55.26; Megan Dickey, 50 free 23.56, Elizabeth Walsh, 100 back 55.93; Anne Hayburn, 50 fly 25.30; Jimmy Hayburn, 50 fly 22.50. The second day they dropped 4 more: Dickey, 100 free 50.26 (this also broke the pool record previously held by Katie Hoff); Schouten, 400 IM 4:25.81; Sung Lee, 200 fly 1:48.84; Devin Cronin 100 breast 1:02.69.
Both the Loyola men’s and women’s teams beat runner up Marist by over 200 points for the H2ounds Invitational title.
The Canadian’s stellar freshman year continued this weekend when she broke school records in the 100 fly (49.97, 2nd in the country), 50 free (21.93, 7th), 200 free relay (1:27.61, 3rd), 400 medley relay (3:28.87, 1st), and the 200 medley relay (1:36.06, 4th).
MacNeil’s teammate Siobhan Haughey also broke her own school record in the 100 free (46.72)
Army/Navy wasn’t the only meet with meaningful team glory on the line this weekend. ECAC, which serves as almost a second conference for many of it’s members, had their winter championships. The NJIT men won with 1635 points, well ahead of 2nd place Monmouth (1306). The Fairfield women won in even more dominating fashion, taking a 1825-1332.5 point win over second place Wagner. The Fairfield women broke 3 school records and won 4 events on their way to the win.
Her time of 49.67 (watch it here) was the highlight of an outstanding weekend from the Wisconsin junior. Nelson also put up top in the nation times in the 200 IM (1:53.08) and 200 back (1:49.10). We spoke with Nelson about her record breaking swim. View that interview here.
Each of his first two years in the NCAA, Harvard junior Farris has swum the 200 free at nationals. This has come at the expense of his second best event, the 100 back which is only two events later on the nationals schedule. Last year he went a 44.81 100 back at the Ivy League championships, the 5th best time in the country all season, but didn’t swim the event at nationals.
Farris held the top 200 free time in the country entering nationals last year, so it’s hard to fault his choice to swim the 200. However, this weekend he swam a 45.00 in the 100 back leading off the 400 medley relay, the second best time in the country this season. His 200 free time of 1:33.53 is only 8th best in the country this year. Last year at the Texas Invite he was 1:33.27 and 46.32.
Another reason to switch: the 200 free is loaded with fast freshmen, the 100 back isn’t. Drew Kibler (1:32.20, 2nd this year) and Jack LeVant (1:32.61, 3rd) are already the 6th and 7th fastest freshmen ever and are likely the two fastest freshmen ever in the fall season. Also, Andrew Seliskar dropped a 1:30.86 and has to be thinking seriously about adding the event to his NCAA program. There aren’t any newcomers in the current top 10 in the 100 back. The field there is a bit more of a known quantity.
It’ll be hard to confidently predict which one Farris will do at nationals until after the Ivy League Championships, but it will likely be a tough choice for him and his coaches either way.