Bjorn Seeliger Becomes 4th Freshman to Go Sub-19 in 50 Free in 2 Weeks


Cal swimmer Bjorn Seeliger became the 4th collegiate freshman in the last 2 weeks to go under 19 seconds in the 50 yard freestyle on Monday when he swam an 18.88 to qualify 1st for the final. He finished ahead of his senior teammate Ryan Hoffer (19.00), who is the defending NCAA Champion in the event.

He joins Adam Chaney, who was 18.76 to win the SEC title; Matt Brownstead, who was 18.88 to win the ACC title; and Matt King, who was 2nd at SECs in 18.96 as freshmen under that mark.

The only swimmers to go sub-19 on a flat start prior to this season were Caeleb Dressel of Florida (18.67 in 2015), Jimmy Feigen of Texas (18.84 in 2009), Pawel Sendyk of Cal (18.92 in 2017), Kristian Gkolomeev of Alabama (18.95 in 2014), and Gideon Louw of Auburn in 2009 (18.99).

Fastest All-Time NCAA Freshmen, Men’s 50 SCY Freestyle:

  1. Caeleb Dressel, Florida, 2015 – 18.67
  2. Adam Chaney, Florida, 2021 – 18.76
  3. Jimmy Feigen, Texas, 2009 – 18.84
  4. Matt Brownstead, Virginia, 2021 – 18.88
  5. Bjorn Seeliger, Cal, 2021 – 18.88
  6. Kristian Gkolomeev, Alabama, 2014 – 18.95
  7. Matt King, Alabama, 2021 – 18.96
  8. Ryan Hoffer, Cal, 2018 – 18.97

Of that group, Gkolomeev, Sendyk, and now Seeliger are internationals. Sendyk was only 19 when he broke 19 seconds as a frehsman, while the rest were older than traditional NCAA freshmen.

That includes Seeliger, who turned 21 in January of this year.

While Seeliger’s age certainly adds context to the inclusion on this list, it doesn’t change the fact that the men’s 50 free in the NCAA is going to be absolutely thrilling for the next four years at least, or five depending on who takes advantage of the NCAA eligibility extension, between this quartet.

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10 months ago

Gideon was a junior in 09.

Did Hoffer not go 18 his freshman year?

10 months ago

Does a swimmer who competes as a freshman at 21 still get 4 years of NCAA eligibility?
And if this year doesn’t count towards that total, could this guy conceivably be swimming for Cal at age 26?

Bjorn Seeliger
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
10 months ago

Good question!

We finish highschool later in Sweden so that is why most swedes come in as freshman at 20. I turned 21 this January. To be eligible in the NCAA for 4 years you have to enroll in college no more than 1 year after your highschool graduation and have to finish within 5 academic years. Hope that clears things up.

Reply to  Bjorn Seeliger
10 months ago

This reply made my week. Thanks and best of luck tonight and beyond. Go Bears!

Human Ambition
Reply to  Bjorn Seeliger
10 months ago

I also think You could get extra eligibility for military service or Mormon mission but you did neither didn’t you Björn?

Reply to  Bjorn Seeliger
10 months ago

It’s always lit seeing swimmers post on their featured article.

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
10 months ago

Björn is born in 2000 and his classmates are born in 2001 and 2002. Not really a big deal that he’s a year or two older.

Reply to  Swimmer
10 months ago

A year or two older in swimming is huge for sprinters. It is the difference between an average swimmer and an elite swimmer. My sons times changed drastically in the few years of high school and his first year of university… 20.59, 20.01, 19.54, 19.24, 18.88.

10 months ago

Matt Brownstead is listed under Alabama in the top-10 ranking. Great article though!

Last edited 10 months ago by Alo

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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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