arena Swim of the Week: Freshman Baylor Nelson Drops 3:38 400 IM At Art Adamson Invite

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Competing in the first taper meet of his collegiate career, Texas A&M freshman Baylor Nelson has been on fire through the first two days of competition at the Art Adamson Invitational.

After winning his primary event, the 200 IM, on Wednesday night in a new best time of 1:41.83, Nelson delivered a monstrous performance in the final of the 400 IM on Thursday, taking off over three seconds to touch in a blistering 3:38.39.

In a head-to-head battle with senior teammate Anze Fers Erzen, Nelson used a strong freestyle leg to take over the lead and ultimately touch first by nearly seven-tenths of a second, going well under his previous best time of 3:41.59.

Compared to his old best, set this past March at the TNAQ Speedo Southern Premier, Nelson was significantly faster on the back half.

Split Comparison

Nelson, March 2022 Nelson, November 2022
23.80 24.05
51.05 (27.25) 51.11 (27.06)
1:18.52 (27.47) 1:18.46 (27.35)
1:45.97 (27.45) 1:45.48 (27.02)
2:16.97 (31.00) 2:16.01 (30.53)
2:48.99 (32.02) 2:47.25 (31.24)
3:16.10 (27.11) 3:13.38 (26.01)
3:41.59 (25.49) 3:38.39 (25.01)

Nelson’s time would’ve been sixth in the NCAA final last season, and ranks him 25th all-time in NCAA history while also putting him among the fastest-ever freshmen.

While a definitive list of freshmen is difficult to nail down, the 19-year-old appears to be the seven-fastest swimmer under 20 in the NCAA, and the eighth-fastest under 20 ever, according to USA Swimming’s database. The only name in between is Andrew Seliskar, who was 3:37.52 as an 18-year-old in club and had the fastest swim of his freshman year at Cal come in at 3:39.06.

The fastest freshman ever is Arizona State’s Leon Marchand, who went 3:34.08 at last season’s NCAAs, while Texas’ Carson Foster sits second after going 3:35.27 in October 2020.

Chase Kalisz was also 3:38.05 as a freshman in 2013 before clocking 3:36.89 the following season as a sophomore.

Fastest U20 Swimmers In NCAA, Men’s 400 IM

  1. Leon Marchand (ASU), 3:34.08 – 2022
  2. Carson Foster (Texas), 3:35.27 – 2020
  3. Hugo Gonzalez (Cal), 3:35.76 – 2018
  4. Chase Kalisz (Georgia), 3:36.89 – 2014
  5. Tyler Clary (Michigan), 3:38.03 – 2009
  6. Tom Dolan (Michigan), 3:38.18 – 1995
  7. Baylor Nelson (Texas A&M), 3:38.39 – 2022

Additionally, dating back to 2011-12, only Kalisz, Jay Litherland, Foster, Shaine Casas and Marchand have been faster than Nelson through mid-season invites.

Nelson happens to be entering his NCAA career with the world’s two best medley swimmers, Marchand and Foster, still competing. Gauging himself against those two names at NCAAs later this season will be a good test as he continues to progress up the ranks, and given the gains he’s made in just a few short months in College Station, he’ll be one to watch in March.

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2 months ago

Did A&M get moved to Tennessee?

“Gauging himself against those two names at NCAAs later this season will be a good test as he continues to progress up the ranks, and given the gains he’s made in just a few short months in Knoxville, he’ll be one to watch in March.”

DC Guy
2 months ago

Tom Dolan goes 3:38.18 almost 27 years ago. That is impressive in itself!

Reply to  DC Guy
2 months ago

In a speedo too. 4:08 in a speedo. 14:27 1650. Had he suited up in today’s modern era that’s looking at like 3:34, 4:03, 14:11. Assuming a suit gives you maybe a second per 100

2 months ago

Freshman of the year so far (ahead of Liendo IMO). 3:38 as a 18/19 year old is a joke. I think he’s also sub 1:41 this year in 200 im. Best 2 distance freshman IMer IMO since Kalisz. Kid is the real deal

Colonel Sanders
2 months ago

I’m in love with Baylor Nelson

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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