Dobler And Mikuta Post Times That Would Have Scored At 2022 NCAAs In USC Invite

2022 USC Invitational

  • October 14 to 16, 2022
  • Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Los Angeles, California
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Full Results

Last Friday, Auburn, UC San Diego, and Hawaii traveled to Los Angeles, California to compete against USC at the USC Invitational. All teams appeared to be suited for this meet. Auburn came out victorious on the men’s side, whereas USC won on the women’s side.

Women’s Recap

One standout performer this weekend was USC’s Kaitlyn Dobler. She went a 57.83 in the 100 breast, a time that would have made the ‘A’ finals at NCAAs last year and is just less than a second off her best time of 56.93—which took first at that same NCAAs meet. Dobler now holds the fastest time in the NCAA in bona fide competition by over two seconds, as Miami’s Tara Vovk, who owns the second-fastest time at 59.80, is over two seconds slower. In addition, Dobler is also quicker than the 2023 NCAA Championship qualifying time of 58.10.

Dobler picked up a win in the 50 free as well, swimming a 22.30, which is not super far off her best time of 21.95 set at 2021 NCAAs. She was also second in the 200 breast with a 2:09.65 to finish behind her teammate Isabelle Odgers, who went 2:09.15. Dobler and Odgers, who previously held the two fastest times in the nation for bona fide competition from the SMU Classic, are now the first two swimmers to get under the 2:10 barrier this season.

Odgers put up two more nation-leading marks in the 200 IM and 400 IM, swimming times of 1:56.88 and 4:10.51 respectively.

Another USC swimmer who had a strong showing this weekend was Justina Kozan, the #5 ranked recruit in the high school class of 2022. She’s better known as an IMer, but has plateaued in both the 200 IM and 400 IM, considering that her personal bests in both events have not improved since 2019. Her swims this week raise an intriguing question: has she shifted her focus towards mid-distance/distance freestyle?

Well, to start things off, Kozan went a 4:41.09 to win the 500 free, a time that would have been less than a second off scoring at 2022 NCAAs. It’s also over a six second drop from her best time in the event that was just set last week, a 4:47.96 swam at the SMU Classic (which was an even bigger drop from her pre-season best of 4:56.16 set back in 2018). Kozan had a strong swim in the 200 free, going a 1:46.00 to win the event. And while that’s not a personal best, it’s the fastest time in the NCAA swam in non-intrasquad competition so far this year. In addition, she also took the 200 fly by a second in a time of 1:57.86.

Kozan never really prioritized the 400/500 free at major meets in the past, with her event lineups primarily consisting of the IMs, the 200 fly, and sometimes the 200 free. However, her strong performances in mid-distance freestyle events indicate that she could be shifting her focus to a new event discipline.

The second-place finishers in both the 200 and 500 free also had notable performances. Auburn’s Emily Hetzer went a 4:41.56 in the 500 free, less than half a second off of Kozan’s winning time. This swim was a big one for Hetzer, as she was faster than the 4:45.67 she went at 2022 SECs and the 4:46.66 she went at NCAAs. However, her season-best from last year was also from an earlier season meet—a 4:41.02 that she clocked at the 2021 Georgia Tech Invite. Hetzer also won the 1650 free with a time of 16:14.61, which overtakes Rutgers’ Madison Murtagh‘s 16:57.77 as the fastest time in the nation for an NCAA swimmer.

In the 200 free, Hawaii’s Laticia Transom was second in 1:46.51. Transom was actually a former USC swimmer, having spent the last four years of her career at the school. Her swimming for Hawaii indicates that she transferred there for her fifth year of eligibility, something that she had not formally announced to the public via social media. She entered the transfer portal for her fifth year back in November 2021.

Another fifth year transfer making her debut for a new team was USC’s Aria Bernal. Bernal entered the portal this April after competing at Arizona for four seasons, and also did not formally announce that she would be transferring to USC. In her debut for the Trojans, she was fifth in the 100 back (53.83) and eighth in the 200 back (1:59.02).

The 100 back was won by Auburn’s Meghan Lee, who put up a 52.28. However, she was even faster leading off the 400 medley relay, having gone a 52.15. That time is just a few tenths off her personal best of 51.66 set at NCAAs last year, and sits behind Maggie MacNeil‘s 51.10 as the second-fastest 100 back time set in non-intrasquad NCAA competition this year. In the 200 back, USC’s Hanna Henderson claimed victory, clocking a 1:55.21. She shaves 0.69 seconds off her personal best of 1:55.90, which was set at the SMU Classic last weekend (Henderson, being a Canadian swimmer, had never competed in yards prior to the start of this season.)

USC’s Anicka Delgado won the 100 fly in 52.52, a very formidable time considering that it’s not far off her best time of 52.25 she went at Pac-12s last season. Delgado also tied with Transom to win the 100 free with a time of 49.02.

Auburn’s Lexie Mulvihill (49.25), Claudia Thamm (49.57), Emma Steckiel (49.14), and Polina Nevomovenko (48.80) won the 400 free relay in 3:16.76, beating out Arkansas’ 3:17.82 to become the fastest NCAA team in the nation this season. However, USC claimed victory in the other three relays contested at this meet.

Although the splits were messed up for the 400 medley relay, the results show that USC’s Henderson, Dobler, Delgado, and Elise Garcia put up a time of 3:31.91, which is faster than Louisville’s 3:32.79 that won the SMU Classic last week. Delgado (22.56), Henderson (21.90), Garcia (22.19) and Dobler (21.71) also won the 200 free relay in 1:28.36, which is also fast than any other team this year and nearly approaches the team’s time of 1:27.84 from NCAAs last year.

In the 200 medley relay, it was Bernal (25.14), Dobler (26.63), Delgado (23.46), and Garcia (21.95) who won for USC in 1:37.18, beating out Arkansas’ previous #1 ranked time of 1:37.18.

Men’s Recap

On the men’s side of the meet, arguably the most impressive performance also came in the 100 breast. Auburn’s Reid Mikuta won this event in 51.41, making him the first swimmer to break 52 seconds in the event this season in non-intrasquad competition. He was also less than a tenth off his best time of 51.32, which he set to place ninth at NCAAs last year. Had he swam his time this weekend at NCAAs last year, he would have been 0.01 seconds away from an ‘A’ finals berth.

USC’s Chris O’Grady posted a formidable time of 52.70 to finish second in the 100 breast, although he was the one who emerged victorious in the 200 breast. There, he clocked a 1:52.83, just over a second away from his personal besst of 1:51.67. However, he was very close to his NCAAs time of 1:52.41. His time from this weekend would have been 18th in the prelims of 2022 NCAAs, just 0.26 seconds away from a ‘B’ finals berth. O’Grady also won the 200 IM in 1:45.85, which approaches his personal best of 1:45.74 set at NCAAs last year.

Earlier this year, O’Grady had entered the NCAA transfer portal because he thought USC’s search for a head coach following the resignation of Jeremy Kipp would take a long time, but withdrew after Lea Maurer was named the official head coach in April.

There was a battle between USC’s Artem Selin and Kalle Makinen in the 50 free, as they were separated by 0.01 of a second and put up times of 19.70 and 19.71 respectively. However, Makinen won the 100 free in 43.48 while Selin was second with a 44.18.

Makinen is a freshman from Finland and made his NCAA debut at this meet. He is the Finnish national record holder in the 50 back (23.87) and 100 back (52.03).

Auburn’s Mason Mathias took both of the distance free events, swimming a 4:18.73 in the 500 free and a 15:29.62 in the 1650 free. His 500 free time is the second-fastest time in the nation this year in bonafide competition, just behind Luke Hobson‘s 4:15.88. Winning the 200 free was Mathias’ teammate Mikkel Gadgaard, who clocked a 1:35.24.

In the 100 back, it was Auburn’s Nate Stoffle who won in 46.67. However, he had put up a 46.38 leading off Auburn’s 400 medley relay earlier in the meet. And while many of the splits for that relay were off, the results show that Makinnen anchored in 42.52. Stoffle also claimed victory in the 100 fly, putting up a 47.07. That’s over a second drop from his previous best time of 48.37, which was set back in February 2021.

USC’s Harry Homans won the 200 fly in 1:44.87, which nears his time of 1:44.53 from Pac-12s last year. His personal best in the event remains at 1:42.02, a time he clocked at the 2020 SEC Championships during his freshman year at Georgia.

Other individual event winners include Auburn’s Danny Schmidt, who won the 400 IM in 3:49.42; and USC’s Evangelos Makrygiannis, who won the 200 back in 1:43.49.

The Auburn men swept all of the relays contested at this meet, with their time from the 200 medley relay being a nation-leading time for non-intrasquad NCAA competition.. Nate Stoffle, Mikuta, Aidan Stoffle, and Makinen opened things off with a 3:07.26 in the 400 medley relay, just 0.01 of a second off Texas’s winning time of 3:07.25 from the SMU Classic. Makinen (19.75), Nate Stoffle (19.32), Logan Tirheimer (19.27), and Ryan Husband (19.73) won the 200 free relay in 1:18.07, which is faster than what any other NCAA team has gone this year aside from NC State, who went 1:17.54 this weekend.

On the second day of the meet, Nate Stoffle (21.57), Mikuta (23.29), Aidan Stoffle (20.66), and Makinnen (19.02) took the 200 medley relay in 1:24.54, while Aidan Stoffle (43.97), Makinnen (42.90), Tirheimer (43.44), and Christian Sztolcman (43.33) combined for a 2:53.64 in the 400 free relay, which sits just behind Tennessee’s 2:53.38.

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Ghost
3 months ago

Dual meets in September and Invites in mid October! It seems to get earlier and earlier!

Meathead
3 months ago

USC swimming way too fast for October…likely shaved for this meet

Taa
3 months ago

Now that Rex abandoned his mom she can adopt Kozan and lead her to a 500fr title.

Sophie
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

This is a very uncomfortable comment.

Taa
Reply to  Sophie
3 months ago

There are counselors available in the student health center

Meathead
Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

hysterical

Hswimmer
3 months ago

Auburn Swimming looking better than the football team! WDE!

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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