Ross Dant is an American distance freestyler. He first rose to prominence as an age group swimmer and then later as a member of the NC State Wolfpack before qualifying to represent the U.S. at the 2023 World Championships.
High School/Junior Swimming
Dant first came on the scene when he threw down a 15:12.68 1650 free at 2016 YNats. He qualified for the 2016 Olympic Team Trials at the Charlotte Pro Swim Series in May 2016. At just 15 years old, Dant put up a 15:47.38 1500 free. At trials, he put up another best in the 1500 free with a 15:41.56 for 44th.
Dant threw down at the 2016 YMCA LC National Championships. He won the 400 free (3:58.90) and took 2nd in the 800 free (8:14.15) and 1500 free (15:36.77), all best times.
Still 15, Dant put up some insane times at the 2016 East Winter Junior Nationals. He put 4:23.21 500 free and a 15:04.02 1650 free. His mile earned him a 3rd place finish. Not yet done with his SCY season, Dant threw down again in March 2017 at YMCA SC Nationals. First, he put up an 8:57.64 1000 free, the #9 time in the 15-16 NAG. Then, he won the 500 free in 4:21.3. Finally, Dant went 14:57.03 which marked his first sub 15:00 swim and the first by any YMCA swimmer. He also put up a 3:53.65 400 IM.
At 2017 Nationals, Dant continued to make big strides. He was 6th for the “slow” heats of the 1500 and 13th overall with a 15:26.93. Dant dropped 11.25 seconds in his 800 free to 8:02.90, good enough for another 13th. He also put up a nice 3:56.60 400 free.
Right before his 17th birthday, Dant took on some of the top junior swimmers of a generation at 2017 Winter Juniors. The 500 free field included names like Kieran Smith, Jake Mahgahey, Destin Lasco, Drew Kibler, and Dare Rose. Dant, the youngest A finalist, was able to come through as one of 4 boys under 4:20 with a 4:18.89 for 4th, the #9 time in the 15-16 NAG. It was Magahey who took the 1650 but Dant was not far behind with a 14:53.07 to Magahey’s 15:52.85. The two were over 10 seconds clear of the field and Dant’s time stood as the #5 time in 15-16 NAG history. Dant also put down a 3:53.10 400 IM.
In January 2018, Dant Committed to NC State. Not long after, Dant broke the North Carolina 1A/2A record in the 500 free with a 4:26.97 and the 100 back record with a 49.35.
At 2018 SC YNats, Dant had a distance sweep with a 4:19.85 500 free, a 8:57.37 1000 free, and a 14:50.97 1650 free. The longer two were personal bests. Dant also was runner-up in the 200 back (1:44.54).
Despite leading the class of 2019 in the 500, 1000, and 1650 free events by a large margin and having an NCAA invite time, Dant ranked 5th in SwimSwam’s junior year rankings.
USA Swimming announced Dant as a part of the USA roster for the Mel Zajac Jr. International Swim Meet. There, put up a series of solid times: 1:54.10/3:58.41/8:15.56/15:38.27 across the 200 through 1500 free events. He placed 3rd in the longest 2 events.
At North Carolina 1A/2A HS Championships, Dant scored a new state record in the 500 free with a best time of 4:18.70. He scored another best in the 100 back with a 49.09 for 2nd.
Dant continued to prove his distance chops at the 2019 YMCA SC Nationals Championships. He defended his title and crushed the 2011 meet record of 8:55.55 with a massive 8:50.29, the #7 time in 17-18 NAG history in the 1000. Dant cracked the 400 IM meet record in prelims with a 3:46.79 but despite dipping under that former record in the finals with a 3:46.50, it had already been broken by Matt Fallon with a 3:44.08 seconds before. In the 500 free, he was .17 off his best with a 4:18.87 but that was still good for 1st. Dant wrapped his meet by completing the distance sweep. He won the 1650 in a stunning 14:46.20 to break his own meet record and best time.
In the re-rank of the class of 2019, Dant was #6 and held class leading times in the 1000 and 1650.
College Swimming (NC State)
Dant won his very first event in his first meet for NC State. He put up a 9:03.08 against South Carolina for the win. He swept the distance at meet against Mizzou and Kentucky. He won in 4:23.25 and 9:02.02 in the 500 and 1000 respectively.
At the NC State Invite, Dant put up a career-best in the 500 free (4:17.67). He also went 3:51.05 in the 400 IM and 14:53.72 in the 1650. Against UVA, he swept the distance events again with a 4:23.60 500 and a 9:00.86 1000.
Dant Came together in a big way at the 2020 ACC Championships. He was 2nd seed in the 500 free prelims with a 4:14.57, a best time by 3 seconds. He knocked that down further with a 4:13.77 in the finals for 4th. In the 200 back prelims, he dropped about 2 seconds with a 1:42.46 to make the A final where he tanked to a 1:48.61 for 8th. He presumably did that because the race was just minutes after Dant had scorched a 14:37.69 1650 for 3rd, a best time by about 9 seconds.
The 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled due to COVID-19.
Dant threw down in the 500 free prelims at the UNC Invite. He nearly set a best time with a 4:14.04 to lead the prelims. In the finals, he was just off at 4:14.59. He posted a 1:43.74 200 back in prelims but tanked in finals in a similar way to what he did at 2020 ACCs. Dant was no joke in the 100 back where he was a solid 47.52 in prelims, an NCAA B cut. Dant also put up a solid 14:49.72 in the 1650 free.
Against UNC, he won the 1000 free by over 12 seconds, touching in 9:04.41, then came back at the end of the session to win the 500 free in 4:23.55. Against UVA, Dant was better with an 8:58.89 in the 1000 for the win but was 2nd in the 500 with a 4:25.38. Dant was back to his usual distance sweep against VT with a 4:23.23 500 and a 9:05.74 1000.
Dant was on fire at the 2021 ACC Championship. He led the 500 free prelims with a 4:12.54, a best by over a second. He bettered that in the final with a 4:12.21 but dropped a place for runner-up behind Notre Dame’s Jack Hoagland. As he has done before, Dant blasted a 1:42.87 200 back in prelims on the final day but added significantly in the finals as he took on the mile. In said mile, Dant shaved 2 seconds off his PB with a 14:35.73 for 2nd behind Hoagland. His 1000 split of 8:50.28 was under his 1000 PB.
On day 2 of NCAAs, Dant eeked out an “A” finals spot in the 500 free by just .06 with a 4:12.34 for 7th. In the finals, he fell to 8th with a 4:12.37, not far off his best time. Where Dant really shined was the 1650. He dropped over 4 seconds off his best time to blaze a 14:31.17. The time was just enough for Dant to place 3rd behind Jake Magahey (14:28.69) and Bobby Finke (14:12.52).
Dant was 3rd in the 1000 free with a 9:02.81 against Auburn and Kentucky behind his training partner James Plage and his new teammate: Indiana transfer Will Gallant. It was a tight race for the three as they touched within 2.5 seconds of each other. He won the 500 with a 4:17.32.
At the NC State Invite, Dant put up a 4:16.28 to qualify first in the 500 free. In the finals, he fell to 4th with a 4:17.68. He was 4th in the mile with a 14:59.04. Dant also tried on the 200 free for size and put up a solid 1:35.85.
Against UVA, Dant led the way with a 8:58.20 1000 free. He also led a NC State sweep in the 500 free with a 4:20.77.
Leading the way in the 500 free prelims at ACC Championships with a 4:12.03 best time was Dant. He was out quick, with a 1:37.97 at the 200 but turned things off down the stretch. Dant was stunning in the finals. He held back a little over the first 200 compared to prelims but his pacing paid off as he was nearly 2 seconds faster with a 4:10.35 to win his first ACC title. Mirroring what he did at invites, Dant did the 200 free, where he finished with a best time of 1:34.48 for 12th. On the final day, Dant took on the 1650. He posted a 14:36.71 to repeat as runner-up.
At NCAAs in the 500 free, Dant was just off his best in prelims with a 4:10.66 for 6th. He ended up 8th in the final with a 4:14.30 for 8th after sticking with the field over the first 200. On the last day, Dant crushed a season-best 14:31.72 for 3rd in the mile again. This time it was Bobby Finke and Dant’s teammate Gallant ahead of him.
Dant opened his season in a 2-day dual meet against Tennessee. He put up the 2nd fastest time in the meet in the 1000 on day 1 with a 9:04.85 behind Gallant’s 9:00.98. The time was the 3rd fastest of the season in bona fide competition to that point. In the 500 free, Dant was 3rd with a 4:25.50.
Dant then took on his typical 200/500/1650 free schedule at the NC State Invite. In the 500, he was 2nd in 4:14.29, a season-best after he put up a 4:16.46 in prelims. In the 200 free, he was 1:36.00 while in the mile, he won with a solid 14:44.87.
Dant popped up again at the ACC Championship. He had a rather subdued meet. He place 6th in the 500 free with a 4:16.57 and was 1:37.64. The highlight of his meet was a solid 14:45.57 in the mile for 3rd.
At NCAAs, Dant opened his meet with a 4:12.59 500 free, good for 7th in the finals. In prelims, he just made the final with a 4:11.81 for 8th. Dant had his best-ever finish in his signature 1650. He and teammate Will Gallant went 1-2. Dant’s runner-up time of 14:30.32 was a best time. The best part was that Dant got to see his teammate win because Dant was in the morning heats.
2018 Summer National Championships (Irvine, California)
Dant had a great showing at Summer Nationals, which also served as the trials meet for 2019. He put up a best time of 3:51.85 for 27th in the 400 free. The time would have gotten him 11th if he had been able to put it up in prelims. He nearly broke 8:00 in the 800 free with a best time of 8:00.57, good for 11th. Dant also put up a 15:34.52 in the 1500.
2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships (Suva, Fiji)
Dant was announced as a member of the Jr. Pan Pacs team in August 2018 following Summer Nationals. He was one of the stars of the meet, coming home with 3 medals. On the first night, Dant took bronze in the 1500 free with a 15:30.78. While it was not a personal best, it was faster than what Dant went at Nationals. In the 400, it was Dant and future Olympic medalist Brendon Smith of Australia. Dant held off a charging Smith to win gold in 3:52.44. In the 800 free, Dant and Long Chen of China were locked together at the 400 but couple of good splits for Dant on the back 400 helped Dant to a second gold in 8:00.51. Dant negative split the race, going out 4:00.53 and coming home 3:59.98, for a best time. Dant also was 4:22.35 in the 400 IM.
2019 Summer National Championships (Stanford, California)
Dant opened his meet with a best time of 15:22.06 in the 1500 free. Swimming out of the “slow” heats, he placed 8th. Dant was the top seed in the 400 IM 18-under final with a 4:24.02. He dropped to a 4:22.81 but placed 4th in his final and 28th overall. Perhaps Dant’s best swim came in the 800 free where he dipped under the 8:00 barrier for the first time and did so by nearly 4 seconds. His 7:56.03 was good for 5th overall. Dant also put up a best time of 3:51.49 in the 400 free for 18th
2020 U.S. Open Championship (Multi-site)
Dant won both the 400 and 800 free at the Greensboro site of the 2020 U.S. Open Championships. His 3:55.87 was good enough for 13th across all sites and his 8:07.13 earned him 12th.
2020(1) Olympic Team Trials (Omaha, Nebraska)
Dant dropped 3 seconds for his best time in the 400 free prelims to rank 2nd. While his 3:48.40 put him in the running for the Olympic Team, he still had a ways to go to the needed 3:46.78 Olympic “A” cut. In the final, Dant dropped further to a 3:48.30 in the final, still off the “A” cut. He finished in the infamous and potentially devastating 3rd place.
Dant sat 3rd in the 800 free prelims as he chopped a second off his PB with a 7:54.98. Dant crushed a 7:50.66 in the final. This time the “A” cut was no issue but Michael Brinagar turned on the jets with a 27-second final 50 to pass Dant down the stretch. Dant placed 3rd again.
After putting up some of the best races of his life, Dant was only 15:28.46 in his 1500, not enough to make the finals. Dant was named to the 2021-22 National Team in the fall.
2022 International Team Trials (Greensboro, North Carolina)
It was deja vu for Dant at trials as he found himself in 3rd in the 400 free again. This time though, Dant was able to dip under the FINA “A” cut with a 3:47.11 best time. Later on, in the 800 free, Dant was 4th with a 7:56.06.
2023 International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)
In a speedy prelims field, Dant led the way with a 3:48.50. In the final, he went a 3:47.87 but fell to 4th. In his only other event, the 800 free, Dant snagged a 2-second personal best of 7:48.10. It was a huge swim for Dant as he place 2nd to qualify for World Championships and his first international team.
–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell