American and International Relay Teams Battle at Indiana University Practice

by Sarah Berman 11

January 24th, 2022 Big Ten, College, News

On Thursday after practice, Indiana University decided to split their men’s team into American and International relay teams to race head-to-head in a 200 medley relay and a 400 freestyle relay. Each team suited up for this intrasquad competition.

In the 400 freestyle relay, the World team of Rafael Miroslaw (43.0), Tomer Frankel (43.1), Bruno Blaskovic (42.4), and Gabriel Fantoni (42.5) won in 2:51.30. The Americans touched at 2:52.20. The team consisted of Van Mathias (43.5), Brendan Burns (43.4), Gavin Wright (42.8), and Jack Franzman (42.4). 

At last year’s NCAA Championships, Indiana placed 11th in the 400 freestyle relay. The team posted a 2:50.38 with Franzman (42.92), Frankel (42.29), Burns (43.40), and Mathias (41.77). In practice, Burns’s split ties his split from last year’s NCAA Championship meet.. Franzman’s practice split time was faster than his leg at NCAAs, but he led off the relay last year and had a flying start as anchor in practice. This same quartet are the reigning Big Ten champions in the 400 freestyle relay (2:49.20). At Big Tens the relay order was Frankel, Mathias, Burns, Franzman.

Race video: 

In the 200 Medley Relay, the World team also came out on top with a time of 1:24.30, narrowly edging the Americans who went 1:24.60. The world team consisted of Fantoni (20.6), Blaskovic (23.9), Frankel (20.4), and Miroslaw (19.4). The Americans went with Jacob Steele (20.9), Mathias (23.9), Burns (20.5), and Franzman (19.2). 

The Hoosiers are trying to fill a breaststroke void in their roster since five-time All American Zane Backes announced his retirement from competitive swimming last week. Backes swam the breaststroke leg on the 200 (23.11) and 400 (50.69) medley relays last year at NCAA championships. 

Either Blaskovic, a fifth-year, and Mathias, a senior, may be the answer for the breaststroke leg Indiana needs to figure out for championships. Indiana could opt to use freshman Josh Matheny for its relay needs. At the Ohio State Invitational last month, Matheny split a 23.58 on the breaststroke leg of the 200 medley relay. It is interesting that Indiana did not use Matheny on this American intersquad relay and instead opted to put Mathias in the lineup, who swims mostly fly and IM for the Hoosiers. It will take a lot for one of these three men to match Backes’s split from NCAA Championships. 

Looking at Manthey, Blaskovic and Mathias’s splits compared to each other, Matheny had the quickest split of the three, but it’s important to note that Matheny’s comparison split is from a sanctioned mid-season meet, as opposed to an informal competition at the end of practice. 

Blaskovic is predominantly a freestyle and butterfly sprinter. At the 2020 Big Ten Championships, Blaskovic was named swimmer of the meet as he won titles in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 medley relay (free), 200 freestyle relay, 400 medley (free), and 400 free relay. At 2020 Big Tens he also placed second in the 100 fly. In 2021, Blaskovic missed Big Tens and NCAAs due to an injury. As sprinting force for Indiana, it will be interesting to see if Blaskovic picks up breaststroke duties for relays and have someone else take over for the freestyle leg. 

Mathias, known for his butterfly and IM skills. Last year at Big Tens he placed 2nd in the 200 IM, and took 4th in the 100 and 200 fly. He also was a member of the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays, and the 3rd place 800 freestyle relay.  

With Big Ten Championships set to take place next month, the Hoosiers will likely use their final duel meet against Evansville next weekend to get some breaststroke clarity before entering championship season. 

Race Video

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Tea rex
1 year ago

Mathias is such an animal on relays. Swims fly/IM at a borderline B-final level but did 18/41/132 and 23/51 br relay splits in 2021

PA Coach
1 year ago

Josh Matheny split 23.3 in a high school pool at the PA state meet last year. And he did a 51.8 flat start 100 in a race he won by 4 seconds. He will be faster than Backes in both when he’s tapered and shaved

1 year ago

So this was before they toyed with Purdue.

1 year ago

You mean to tell me Gabriel Fantoni split a 20.6 backstroke in practice and we aren’t talking about it???

Reply to  NCAA>ISL
1 year ago

I timed it three times and got between 21.1 and 21.3

James Beam
1 year ago

I think NESCAC (D3 conference) allows 2 relays per school at their champ meet. It would never happen at Big10’s, but it would be cool to see schools enter 2 relays per event, would add a lot of excitement and put an emphasis on depth for a team…

Reply to  James Beam
1 year ago

I would love that, given that right now, relays are so insignificant in determining the outcome of conference championship meets.

Reply to  James Beam
1 year ago

UAA (UChicago, WashU, Emory, CMU, etc.) allows this as well.

JP input is too short
Reply to  James Beam
1 year ago

At my conference when I was in college, we did A and B relays – A relays scored like an A final; B relays scored like a B final. Of course, this would be a little more awkward to score with more than 8 teams.

sticky rice
Reply to  JP input is too short
1 year ago

This is how my conference did it as well.

Old Swim Coach
1 year ago

Here we go…