Spencer Penland contributed to this report.
One of the top young talents in men’s swimming has announced his collegiate commitment.
Josh Liendo, a 2021 Canadian Olympian and three-time medalist from the 2022 World Championships, is heading to the University of Florida. Liendo announced the news Thursday on Instagram.
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The University of Florida has confirmed that Liendo will begin competing this fall. He will have four seasons of eligibility.
Liendo joins a Florida squad that has finished third at the Men’s NCAA Championships in back-to-back seasons, but will be missing one of their top performers in recent years in the form of Bobby Finke, and they also could potentially be losing Kieran Smith, who was a senior last year but has yet to announce if he plans on doing a fifth year.
The addition gives the Gators a swimmer who can realistically challenge for wins in three individual events and also be a key cog in four relays.
The 19-year-old began to make a name for himself on the major international scene in 2021, qualifying for the Canadian Olympic team in the men’s 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly, setting new lifetime bests in all three.
After a successful Olympic debut that included semi-final appearances in the 100 free (14th) and 100 fly (11th), Liendo had an explosive performance at the 2021 Short Course World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
He picked up three medals at that competition, including gold in the mixed 200 free relay and a pair of individual bronzes in the 50 free (20.76) and 100 free (45.82), setting a new Canadian Record in the former.
The Scarborough, Ontario native is coming off an even better 2022 long course season, winning three medals at the World Championships and four medals at the Commonwealth Games.
Having first set a pair of National Records in the 50 free (21.63) and 100 fly (50.88) at the Canadian Swimming Trials in April, Liendo went on to win bronze at the World Championships in both the 100 free (47.71) and 100 fly (50.97) while re-breaking his Canadian Record in the 50 free (21.61) and placing fifth. He added a silver medal in the mixed 400 free relay after leading the Canadians off in 48.02.
A product of the North York Aquatic Club, Liendo went on to win his first individual major international title at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, claiming gold in the men’s 100 fly. He added three bronze medals, including one individually in the 50 free.
While Liendo has shown great progress in the long course pool over the last few months, his performances at SC Worlds indicate he’s going to be a dynamic force in the NCAA.
He’ll have the opportunity to train with arguably the best swimmer in the world, Caeleb Dressel, who was a superstar for the Gators during his collegiate career and swims the same three primary events—50 free, 100 free and 100 fly.
Here are Liendo’s personal best times in meters, with the yards conversions in parenthesis. The conversions in this post come from the Speedo Time Converter:
Liendo’s Meters Best Times (SCY Conversion)
- LCM 50 Free – 21.61 (18.74)
- SCM 50 Free – 20.76 (18.70)
- LCM 100 Free – 47.55 (41.39)
- SCM 100 Free – 45.82 (41.27)
- LCM 200 Free – 1:50.62 (1:36.77)
- SCM 200 Free – 1:46.34 (1:35.80)
- LCM 50 Fly – 23.72 (20.73)
- SCM Fly – 22.52 (20.28)
- LCM 100 Fly – 50.88 (44.57)
- SCM 100 Fly – 50.00 (45.04)
- LCM 200 Fly – 2:00.52 (1:46.07)
- SCM 200 Fly – 1:56.77 (1:45.19)
If we average out Liendo’s LCM and SCM to SCY conversions in each of his best events, this is what his yards times look like:
- SCY 50 Free – 18.72
- SCY 100 Free – 41.33
- SCY 200 Free – 1:36.28
- SCY 50 Fly – 20.50
- SCY 100 Fly – 44.79
- SCY 200 Fly – 1:45.63
Keep in mind that these conversions are likely on the conservative side, given the success Liendo’s meters times have earned him on the international stage. That being said, these conversions are a nice place to start in terms of giving a rough estimate of where Liendo might be once he gets acclimated to yards swimming and racing.
In the 50 free, 18.72 would have put Liendo sixth at last year’s NCAA Championships. His 100 free conversion of 41.33 would have been good for fifth in the prelims and sixth in the final at nationals, and his 44.79 average conversion would have put him .01 shy of earning an ‘A’ final berth in the 100 fly.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, Liendo would have been Florida’s top performer in each of those events last year.
On top of that, he gives them an ace to throw on the 200 and 400 free and medley relays, one capable of delivering splits that could tip the scales in terms of winning an event and placing third or fourth.
At last season’s NCAAs, the Gators won the 200 medley relay in a new NCAA and U.S. Open Record, and they also topped the field in the 200 free relay, three one-hundredths back of the all-time record.
Liendo teams up with a solid Florida recruiting class this season that also includes our #7 ranked domestic recruit Dawson Joyce, who is also a sprint free/fly specialist.