Auburn Freshman Mikkel Gadgaard Breaks School Record in 500 Free at Last Chance

2021 James E. Martin Invitational

  • March 6, 2021
  • James E. Martin Aquatic Center, Auburn, Alabama
  • Short Course Yards (25 Yards)
  • College “Last Chance” Qualifier
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “James E Martin Invitational”

The Auburn University-hosted James E. Martin Invitational is traditionally a pre-conference meet, designed mostly for swimmers who haven’t made their teams’ conference championship rosters.

This season, though, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the meet was shifted both in timing and purpose. Held as a one day event on Saturday, small teams from Florida State, Georgia Tech, Alabama, and the hosts Auburn came together to squeeze in a few last shots at times that would earn NCAA Championship invites.

One of the most successful of those final efforts came from Auburn freshman Mikkel Gadgaard. After finishing in 9th place at the SEC Championships with a 4:16.60 in the 500 free final, he ripped out a 4:12.80 in Saturday’s preliminary round.

It took 4:16.49 to qualify for the NCAA Championships last season, and with most events expected to have slower cut lines this year, a 4:16.60 may have earned an invite, but a 4:12.80 will earn an invite. As the 12th-ranked time in the NCAA so far this season, that swim actually makes him the second-best freshman nationally (behind only Georgia’s Jake Magahey) and puts him in NCAA Championship scoring position.

That swim for the 21-year old Gadgaard also broke the Auburn Record, clearing the 4:14.44 swum by Zane Grothe at the 2013 NCAA Championship meet.

Not all Auburn swims were as successful. For example, junior Christian Sztolcman raced the 200 free in prelims, swimming 1:35.05. That’s well slower than the 1:33.89 he went at the SEC Championships. That SEC time currently ranks him 34th in the nation, with between 28 and 33 swimmers per event usually earning an invite.

We know some of the swimmers ranked ahead of him, like Texas A&M’s Shaine Casas, probably won’t swim the event, so Sztolcman is squarely on the bubble. If we see that men’s cutline stretch deeper than it usually does (like the women’s cutline did), he’s got a shot. Had he dropped even a tenth of a second, that would have made him a near-lock to qualify, though.

Auburn also went after an NCAA Qualifying Standard (“A  Cut”) in the 200 medley relay in prelims, but swam 1:26.26 – slower than their time at SECs. They didn’t give it another shot in finals, and with no Qualifying Standards in any relays, that means they won’t be eligible to race any of those events at NCAAs.

Alabama earned a likely new qualifier as well on Saturday. Eric Stelmar swam a 1:41.17 in the 200 back in prelims, which jumps him to a 25th rank nationally this season. That should lock him in for an NCAA invite.

Other Notable Swims:

  • Auburn’s Reid Mikuta swam a new lifetime best of 52.65 in the 100 breaststroke, shaving .06 off his time from the SEC Championships. That looks like it will just miss NCAA qualifying as the 44th-ranked time nationally this season.

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Swim coach
8 months ago

Pretty soon it’s only going to be the freshmen left on that team

Reply to  Swim coach
8 months ago

Most of the teams seem to be frosh and soph heavy when one looks at the latest results of conf champs ….. senior seem to be washing off before their graduation in some schools

War Damn
Reply to  samulih
8 months ago

Not sure there are many sophomores left

Reply to  Swim coach
8 months ago

21 year old freshmen…

Jules Verne
Reply to  Swim coach
8 months ago

I heard two more swimmers entered the Transfer Portal….When is the Auburn Administration gonna open their eyes and see what is going on with the Swim Program…As Change needs to Come.

Transfer portal
Reply to  Jules Verne
8 months ago

Where is this transfer portal? Can anyone see this site/list?

Reply to  Jules Verne
8 months ago

How giving congrats to a swimmer who had a great swim? These kids are doing their best during this difficult year, and most are happy and proud to swim for Auburn. Shame people feel the need to continue to troll and take away any of the accomplishments.

Reply to  Swim coach
8 months ago

Since most people on this forum don’t like my David Marsh suggestions, maybe it’s time to lure Dave Durden away from Cal. New Challenge???

Last edited 8 months ago by Guerra
Reply to  Guerra
8 months ago

Already tried. Not happening

8 months ago


8 months ago

Braden, are you able to get the times and splits from this meet, particularly the 200 breaststroke? There is an issue on meet mobile with several events, including this one, not posting.

Derek Maas, of Alabama, swam a lifetime best of 1:53.13, in the 200 breaststroke. I don’t know the splits.

8 months ago

Looks like the breaststrokes will be faster for an invite than years past. Possible correlation between all these swimmers getting extra power and weight work in when they were short on pool time during the pandemic?

Reply to  SeaMonster
8 months ago

They went crazy with the dolphin kicks this year

8 months ago

Coincidence the teams represented in this picture are on the decline from previous prominence. Auburn recent SEC placement is a glimpse into the current culture and lack of leadership, at some point a change will be needed. Arizona once again facing NCAA compliance infractions that extend to swimming…..Auggie may be the end of the Busch legacy.


8 months ago

Some positive light on this program! Congratulations and best of luck at NCAA’s

So confused
8 months ago

I’m still a bit confused how they choose who goes to NCAAs. They choose the top 29 times of the season? Sorry to be continually asking questions. I wish someone would write, or point me to an already written book, that outlines these things.

8 months ago

Great swim!!!!!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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