Defending NCAA Champion Clark Smith Misses 500 Free Final


Texas junior Clark Smith has missed both the A and B finals of the men’s 500 free on day 2 of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships.

Smith entered the meet as the top seed and the defending NCAA Champion in the event. His 4:08.82 from December was the 4th-fastest 500 yard free in history.

Early in the swim, Smith split 1:38.39 at the 200 and a 2:30.44 at the 300, which put him on pace for around a 4:10, which would’ve made him the top seed. At that point, however, his splits dramatically fell-off, relative to the rest of the field.

  • 1st 100 – 47.79
  • 2nd 100 – 50.60
  • 3rd 100 – 52.05
  • 4th 100 – 54.26
  • 5th 100 – 52.47

By comparison, the splits of the top seed Mitch D’Arrigo were:

  • 1st 100 – 48.85
  • 2nd 100 – 51.61
  • 3rd 100 – 51.46
  • 4th 100 – 50.94
  • 5th 100 – 48.62

Smith is also the 10th seed in the 200 free and the top seed in the 1650 free later in the meet. Smith split 1:33.28 in the 200 free on Wednesday’s 800 free relay, which Texas won in record-setting fashion.

Texas had three swimmers in the A-Final of the 500 free at NCAAs last year. Jonathan Roberts, who was 8th last year, finished 20th; and Sam Lewis, who was 7th last year, finished 30th.

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81 Comments on "Defending NCAA Champion Clark Smith Misses 500 Free Final"

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I think this is a bigger story than Caleb Dressel unfortunately. You are the fastest seed by 4 seconds in the 500, and not only do you not make it to the final, but you don’t even make the consolation heat?!? While most of Texas is likely to swim out of their minds this week, that is a bad sign for Smith. Eddie Reese said in his evaluation of the 800 free relay last night that he thought Smith went out too fast in his 1st 100, but maybe he just knew in his head he wasn’t there taper-wise and tried to overcompensate? If the meet is going to be close, this just gave the field a huge advantage over… Read more »

meet’s not going to be that close I don’t think.

Yeah, I think he must be sick. But, Texas is so good this year that just losing one guy isn’t going to matter much.

Colorado Swimmer

Smith was sitting in feetle position clutching his knees and rocking back and forth before his final. He was a mental wreck after having the slowest split on the relay last night.

Eddie Reese's relative

He is not sick, he was too stressed out for being the defending champion from last year and had too much pressure and was too worried about the race and was running on no sleep.

Coach Mike 1952

And how did you come to know this?

I hear he doesn’t work very hard. Clearly showing. Embarrassing his team and coaching staff.


I think you are embarrassing yourself with this kind of comment.

I hear you didn’t think this post through very much. Clearly showing. Only embarrassing yourself.

You’re joking, right? Clark Smith is known as a legendary trainer. Just last night Eddie credited the development of Haas to Haas chasing (and losing) to Smith every day in practice. You don’t go a 8:33 1,000 without putting in work.

This doesn’t seem like a missed taper. I have to assume he’s sick.

This is obviously not an issue of hard work as he was 4:08 mid-season. Keep your uneducated comments to yourself. Your lack of knowledge on swimming is clearly showing.

Don’t feed the troll.

How do not work hard and still go 4:08?

Not commenting on Clark’s actual training. I have no clue what he does or how hard he works.

But anybody can be fast and not work hard. Swimming is not a work-hard sport even though that is what 99.9% of the swimming world ignorantly believes. It is more about training correctly and having near perfect technique for your individual body type.

Most top swimmers don’t necessary work hard. They work smart.

Eddie Reese told me that Clark smith is the hardest worker he’s ever had and does unreal things in practice, you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about

I agree Calibill. As I mentioned in a previous post, Texas always does this. They go fast in December then rarely touch those times. Should be a red flag for incoming recruits. Same with Conger breaking the 200 fly record in a time trial last year, then going slower at NCAA’s last year.

“Texas always does this” Where’s that coming from? Were you unconscious last night during the 800 Free Relay? Or in the rest of prelims today?

Recruits are smarter than paying attention to your post…

What you hear about Clark not working hard exposes only your ignorance – or ‘CALI’ frame of mind

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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