Dolfin Swim of the Week: Johnston’s Lifetime-Best 4:16.45

Disclaimer: Dolfin Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The  Dolfin Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

University of Texas freshman David Johnston kicked off his NCAA career on an extremely high note, with a lifetime-best 500 free at the Texas Intrasquad.

Johnston dropped 2.6 seconds in his first collegiate swim, going from 4:19.07 out of high school to 4:16.45 to win the Orange vs White Intrasquad yesterday. With that swim, Johnston bested standout Texas junior Drew Kibler and established himself as a key contributor for the Longhorns moving forward.

Johnston was the #16 recruit in the country in our senior-year re-ranks for the class of 2020. Johnston surged from an unranked recruit into our top 20 with a giant senior year. That was mostly driven by a massive mile drop from 15:28 to 14:51, which made him the top 1650 freestyler in the entire nation for his recruiting class.

Johnston is an extremely fast riser. As a junior in high school, he was 4:29.5 in the 500 free, hitting that time in the spring of his junior year. In November of his senior year, he cut to 4:26.96, then to 4:19.81 just a month later. Finally, he hit 4:19.07 in February of 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic shut down competition.

With his huge drop to 4:16.45 in his first collegiate swim, Johnston puts himself in line to challenge last year’s NCAA invite time, which was 4:16.49. Of course, the bigger barrier for Johnston might be Texas’s own roster, which is stacked with depth and makes the 18-man roster cap a bigger concern than the NCAA’s 235-swimmer cap.

Last year, Texas left six likely NCAA qualifiers off of their NCAA entries to reach the 18-man limit. That included 500 freestyler Parker Neriwho was 4:17.27 mid-season and ranked 37th nationally. Had the meet not been canceled in the coronavirus pandemic, the Longhorns would have had to cut two more swimmers to make room for diving qualifiers. That likely would have included 4:14.96 Johnthomas Larsonwho was seeded 19th. For what it’s worth, both Neri (4:32.04) and Larson (4:22.69) finished behind Johnston at the Texas Intrasquad yesterday.


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11 months ago

Wow, he went a best time by nearly 3 seconds, and this isn’t even his best event. Johnston looks to be an immediate impact swimmer. The 500 has gotten much faster this year for Texas. Last year, Drew Kibler won the intrasquad with a 4:20. This year, you have 4 swimmers (Johnston, Kibler, Zettle, fellow freshman Carrozza) all breaking 4:20. If they can keep this up, the 500 could really be a strong event for Texas this season.

Reply to  swimfan210_
11 months ago

Man, Johnston‘ isn’t playing!

What about Chris Yeager? Thought he had a year left and was at one point there best 1650 guy….

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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