Harvard freshman Dean Farris has been busy rewriting the Crimson record books this season. At December’s Texas Invite Farris lowered Harvard’s school record in the 200 freestyle to a 1:34.30, and then broke it again in a dual meet against Yale in early February clocking a 1:34.01. At the Ivy League Championships Farris blew away the competition in all three of his events. In his first individual event, the 200 freestyle, Farris warmed up by taking down Rowdy Gaines’s pool record (1:34.57) with a 1:32.71 in prelims, and he destroyed it again in finals, clocking a 1:31.56, the top time in the NCAA this year.
On the same day, Farris broke Harvard’s school record in the 100 back with a 45.74 in prelims, and then a 45.38 in finals, which makes him the 9th seed going into this month’s NCAA Championships. On the final day of Ivies, Farris won the 100 freestyle in 42.06 seconds, which would seed him 8th going into this month’s NCAA Championships; however, Farris has elected not to swim it, opting for the 200 backstroke.
Farris enters the 200 back at 1:45.24 from December’s Texas Invite and as the 40th seed overall–the last seed. However, Farris’s best time in the 200 back is actually a 1:42.89 from the 2016 NCSA Spring Championships, which would seed him 35th. Yet even that time is probably not representative of what Farris is capable of swimming, given his drastic improvements this season.
Out of high school, Farris’s best time in the 200 freestyle was a 1:36.00 and now he’s at 1:31.56, an improvement of 4.44 seconds. His high school 100 backstroke time was a 47.36 from December of 2015, and now he is a full 1.98 seconds faster at 45.38. Similarly, he has improved his 100 freestyle by 1.71 seconds, going from 43.77 to his current 42.06. If he can pull off another 3.5 or 4-second time drop in the 200 back he could be between 1:39.39 and a 1:38.89. If he so much as goes under 1:40 he is likely to place in the top 10, if not top 8 at NCAAs.
Farris will swim a double of the 200 free and 100 back on Friday (March 24th), and will focus on the 200 back on Saturday (March 25th). In addition to his individual swims, Farris will compete on 4 of Harvard’s relays. Likely the 800 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 400 medley relay, and 200 medley relay. If Farris is on the 200 medley relay he could swim up to six times on Friday between prelims and finals, though if he were on the 200 freestyle relay then he might only swim four times between the 200 free and 400 medley relays on Thursday (March 23rd). Coach Kevin Tyrrell will have to decide how he wants to use Farris between the four relays, any of which he could impact.
The 200 back will certainly be competitive for places 2-8 (Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy is the favorite to defend his title), but probably not as hard-fought as the 100 freestyle, where there is absolutely zero room for error. While Farris will not be focusing on the 100 free at this year’s NCAAs, Townley Haas, American record holder in the 200 yard freestyle and defending NCAA champion in both the 200 and 500, will be swimming the 100, a major departure from the 1650 which he swam last year, finishing in 4th place.