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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.
The Big Al Invitational at Princeton got underway on Thursday with a long course time trial, and it was a relatively unknown name stealing the show.
Vili Sivec, a sophomore at Cal State Bakersfield, dropped a time of 1:58.09 in the men’s 200 butterfly, lowering the Croatian National Record by a significant margin to break the 2:00 barrier for the first time in his career.
Croatian National Record for sophomore Vili Sivec! Today at the Big Al Invitational, he became the fastest Croatian to ever swim the 200m Butterfly! We’re so proud of him!#RunnersOnTheRise pic.twitter.com/gNaA43UkgU
— CSUB SWIMMING & DIVING (@CSUB_Swim) November 30, 2023
Sivec’s swim took down the five-year-old Croatian Record of 1:59.45, previously held by Filip Zelic, as he cracked his own lifetime best of 2:00.50 set earlier this year at the LEN U23 European Championships in Dublin.
|Sivec, LEN U23 Championships
|Sivec, 2023 Big Al Invitational
The 20-year-old Sivec had a standout debut season at Bakersfield in 2022-23, winning Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Freshman of the Year honors as he won the men’s 200 free, was the runner-up in the 200 fly and took fourth in the 500 free at the 2023 conference championships.
In the short course 200 fly, he set a best time of 1:44.78 at the 2022 Big Al Invitational, and was just shy of it (1:44.81) at the MPSF Championships at the end of the season.
In addition to the 200 fly, Sivec currently owns the school record in the 200 free (1:34.50) and is within 21 one-hundredths of it in the 100 fly (47.11).
Given the improvements he’s shown in the long course pool, that mark will be at risk in a big way this weekend. He would need to drop more than two seconds to be in position to earn an NCAA invite, with the cutline coming in at 1:42.57 last season.
Sivec is scheduled to race the 200 free, 500 free, 100 fly and 200 fly at the Big Al Invitational.
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