Dean Farris is a versatile swimmer from Georgia, though he mainly focuses on the backstroke and the shorter freestyle events. Before attending Harvard, Farris had a successful club and high school career at Metro Atlanta Aquatic Club under head coach Mike Norment and The Paideia School.
Farris made an immediate impact his rookie season at Harvard. He stole the show at the Ivy League Championships, winning the high-point award for three individual and four relay golds. In the prelims, he posted a 1:32.71 in the 200 yard freestyle, smashing the 37-year-old pool record of 1:34.57 set by Auburn’s Rowdy Gaines. That night, he blitzed his new record and became the sixth fastest 200 yard freestyler in history with a 1:31.56.
His other individual golds at the meet came in the 100 yard freestyle and backstroke.
At his first NCAA meet, Farris captured two individual All-American honors. First up was the 200 yard freestyle where he finished fourth in 1:32.25 behind Olympians Townley Haas, Blake Pieroni and Dylan Carter. That First-Team All-America honor was the first for a Harvard swimmer in seven years.
In the 200 yard backstroke, Farris picked up more points for Harvard, finishing 14th in 1:40.89. His third event was the 100 yard back, where he finished 31st.
2018 Ivy League Championships
Dean Farris put up a dominant performance at the 2018 Ivy League Championships in Princeton, New Jersey. On day 1, Dean split 21.22 to lead off the 200 medley relay and aid Harvard to their first victory of the meet. In the same session, Farris split a 1:30.69 on the 800 free relay, anchoring Harvard to victory and a new meet record. On day 3, in the 200 free, Farris dominated the field, throwing down a 1:31.12 to smash his own Ivy League Meet Record by half a second. That time put him as the #4 all-time performer in that event. Minutes later, Farris returned in the 100 back to capture his 2nd individual title of the meet in as many events with a 44.81, again setting a new meet record. Farris returned quickly in the 400 medley relay, leading off in a 44.83 and helping Harvard secure their 4th relay title of the meet. Day 4 of the meet yielded similar results, with Farris completely shattering the meet record in the 200 back in a time of 1:38.99, taking over 1.5 seconds off of the old record. In the last event of the meet, Farris once again anchored Harvard to victory, splitting 41.09 at the end of the 400 free relay and making it a clean 5-relay sweep for Harvard.
2018 NCAA Championships
Dean Farris started off the NCAA championships by splitting 1:30.55 on Harvard’s 800 free relay (finishing 11th). Farris opted to swim 1 individual event per day, choosing the 50 free on Day 2. Farris went a lifetime best of 19.16 in the prelims, good for 13th. He was able to move up in finals, swimming to 12th with a 19.28. Farris wasn’t able to match his best time from Ivy’s in the 200 free, but he was able to garner a 6th place finish with a time of 1:32.12 in finals. On the last day of the meet, Farris touched for 7th in the 200 back finals in a time of 1:40.37.
For his accomplishments in the 17-18 season, Farris was named as one of the 2017-18 Academic All-Ivy honorees.
Dean’s junior season was his most monumental to date. Dean Farris started off the NCAA Championships by smashing the NCAA, American, and U.S. Open Records in the 200 free on the lead-off leg of Harvard’s 800 free relay, clocking 1:29.15 to erase Townley Haas‘ mark of 1:29.50 set last year. Swimming in the second of three heats, the junior went out in a hellacious pace over the first 150, splitting 20.56, 22.33 (42.89), and 22.54 (1:05.43). His only 50 over 23 was the final one, closing in 23.72. Compared to Haas, he was slightly faster on the front half, significantly faster on the third 50, and a bit slower coming home. Check out the splits:
|HAAS, 2018 NCAAS||FARRIS, 2019 NCAAS|
|22.48 (43.12)||22.33 (42.89)|
|23.06 (1:06.18)||22.54 (1:05.43)|
|23.32 (1:29.50)||23.72 (1:29.15)|
Haas had set the record in the individual event of the 2018 Championships after Blake Pieroni became the first man ever sub-1:30 on the lead-off of the relay in 1:29.63.
Incredibly, Farris isn’t even contesting the 200 free individually, instead opting to swim the 100 back on day three. Prior to this swim his best time was 1:30.83 from the Ivy League Championships at the beginning of March.
Farris’ meet just took off from there. On Day 2, he took 6th in the 50 free (19.02, 18.92 in the morning), and never looked back. On Day 3, he dethroned defending champion Coleman Stewart in the 200 back, touching at 43.66 to make him the 2nd fastest performer of all-time, behind Ryan Murphy. On the final day of competition, Farris touched first in the 100 free at 40.80, solidifying his status as an NCAA heavyweight.
Starting roughly around the time of the 2017 Ivy League Championships, which many would cite as Dean Farris’ collegiate breakout meet, a sub-culture has arisen within the SwimSwam comment section around Dean Farris. Numerous claims have been made about the diety-like qualities of Farris’ swimming and abilities, garnering him the title of “Swimming’s Greatest Meme” reminiscent of the role that Chuck Norris once played in pop culture.
Redshirting Olympic Year
On May 16, 2019, Farris announced to SwimSwam his plans to take an Olympic redshirt for the 2019-2020 NCAA season. Farris said he will utilize a new home pool at the University of Texas under the guidance of Eddie Reese. Dean also noted that Harvard head coach Kevin Tyrrell and Associate head coach Sam Pitter will remain in close contact with him, making occasional trips to Austin over the course of the 2019-2020 season.
2018 Summer Nationals
At the 2018 Nationals in Irvine, Dean swam the 50-200 freestyle as well as the 50-100 backstroke, going lifetime bests in all 5 events. In the 100 free, Dean’s 10th place time of 48.52 was fast enough to qualify him for the 2019 World University Games in Italy.