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 Neri, who 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 Larson, who 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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