arena Swim of the Week: Zalan Sarkany Turns Up The Heat With 14:28 Mile Against GCU

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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.

Meets are slowly beginning to ramp up as we come out of the winter break, with the majority of top NCAA teams returning to action either this weekend or next.

Arizona State, however, jumped right in last Friday, Jan. 6, and showed impressive form, highlighted by what sophomore Zalan Sarkany did in the men’s 1650 freestyle.

Sarkany, a 20-year-old Hungarian who only joined the Sun Devils 12 months ago, has immediately made an impact on the distance freestyle scene in the NCAA, and figures to be a force at season’s end.

Racing against Grand Canyon on Friday, Sarkany dropped the fastest time in the men’s 1650 free we’ve seen since the graduation of U.S. Open Record holder and multi-time NCAA champion Bobby Finke, clocking 14:28.09 in the dual to knock 13 and a half seconds off his previous best time and ASU Record of 14:41.65 set at the 2023 Pac-12s.

After winning the conference title with that 14:41 swim last March, Sarkany went on to place eighth at his debut NCAAs in a time of 14:42.80. He’ll surely be in the mix for the title this season, as his time from the dual against GCU is faster than what Will Gallant went to win the title—14:28.94.

Gallant won’t be in the field at NCAAs this season, and Sarkany now ranks atop the nation by nearly 10 seconds, with USC freshman Krzysztof Chmielewski sitting second at 14:37.74.

Since the beginning of 2020, Sarkany’s swim ranks fourth among 1650 free swims produced across the country.

Fastest Men’s 1650 Freestyle Times Since Jan. 1, 2020

  1. Bobby Finke (Florida), 14:12.08 – 2020 SEC Championships
  2. Jake Magahey (Georgia), 14:24.96 – 2021 SEC Championships
  3. Zach Yeadon (Notre Dame), 14:27.93 – 2020 ACC Championships
  4. Zalan Sarkany (Arizona State), 14:28.09 – 2024 ASU vs GCU
  5. Luke Ellis (Sandpipers of Nevada), 14:29.48 – 2023 CA/NV Speedo Sectionals

Sarkany also lowered his school record in the 1000 free to the feet in his swim, flipping in 8:46.42 to get well under his previous mark of 8:49.31, and won his other individual event, the 500 free, with a new lifetime best of 4:15.02.

Sarkany and the Sun Devils will return to action next Friday, Jan. 19, visiting Stanford before heading to Cal the following day.

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Alex Wilson
3 months ago

Very well done Zelan Sarkany! Congratulations!

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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