Drew Kibler to Swim 500 Free After Finishing 9th in the 50 Free Last Year

by Robert Gibbs 13

March 10th, 2020 News

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Texas sophomore Drew Kibler has made one change to his event lineup for his 2nd NCAAs, dropping the 50 free, in which he finished tied for 9th last year, and opting for the 500 free instead.

This change seemed imminent, as Kibler doesn’t even have a ‘B’ cut in the 50 free this season and sits at #6 on the psych sheet with his 4:11.19 500 free time from the Minnesota Invite. Additionally, Texas doesn’t appear to have another slam dunk scorer in the 500, although four Longhorns are ranked between 15th and 24th.

The real reason this is notable is for its relay implications. Kibler is the quintessential “rangy freestyler,” and last year not only did he swim the 50 free individually, he had the 2nd-fastest split on the Longhorns’ 200 free relay at NCAAs with an 18.62 leg. With Tate Jackson done with eligibility and Jake Sannem absent all season, the Longhorns already needed to replace two legs from last year’s 3rd-place relay, and now they might need to replace one more.

There seems to be basically three ways this breaks down at this point.

First, it’s possible Kibler doesn’t swim the 200 free relay at all. In this scenario, Eddie Reese decides that Daniel Krueger (19.19) and Maxime Rooney (19.24), plus some combination of Alvin Jiang (19.46), Chris Staka (19.56), Matthew Willenbring (19.67) and Caspar Corbeau (18.9 split in high school), is more than enough firepower to turn in a top-notch relay.

Second, Kibler could swim either prelims or finals of the relay. The argument for swimming prelims is that there should be a solid chunk of time between the relay and his heat of the 500, and he could help make sure Texas makes the relay’s A-final. Of course, he could also forgo the relay prelims, but end up swimming the finals of the relay, then basically cruise the 500 free final and settle for 8th-place points, assuming he made the A-final in the morning. Kibler swam on Texas’ A relay at both the Minnesota Invite and the Big 12 Championships. The choice would likely come down to math, and whether or not the time differential between Kibler and whoever would replace him on the relay would figure to be worth more points to Texas than Kibler taking 8th in the 500 and whatever his ceiling in that event would be if he was fresh.

The third option, and probably the least likely, is that Kibler simply goes for it and ends up swimming both iterations of the relay and the 500. Given the Longhorns’ aforementioned sprint depth right now, this doesn’t seem likely at all, and would likely leave Kibler in a world of pain.

Kibler is also entered in the 200 free, where he finished 3rd last year, and the 100 free, where he finished 16th.

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ONEHANDTOUCH
8 months ago

The article is about Kibler, but the photo is of Haas pulling off a cowboy har spectacularly.

ONEHANDTOUCH
Reply to  Robert Gibbs
8 months ago

Kibler_cowboy_hat.jpg has been found.

dmswim
8 months ago

I’m a bit confused by this article. Do we really think a top D1 athlete that trains at notoriously tough Texas, can’t handle a 500 and a 50 in the same session? I think he can do both and be fine. If anything, the relay is a warm-up for the 500. Why would he cruise the 500 in finals for an 8th place finish? I’m sure Eddie would have him skip the podium and warm down, but I think he’ll be fine.

Reply to  dmswim
8 months ago

It’s not so much doubting Kibler’s toughness as pointing out how unprecedented it would be to swim the 200 free relay and the 500 free in the same session. Townley Haas never did it. Neither did Cristian Quintero. Last year alone, quite a few teams passed up potentially faster relay options to avoid that double: Texas didn’t use Haas (who went 19.1 to his feet in a 100 split later in the meet) instead of 18.9-split Sannem. Texas A&M didn’t use Mark Theall, who was the fastest leg of their 400 free relay without a relay start, because he had the 500 coming up. Michigan went with a 19.9-split breaststroker to not use Patrick Callan or Ricardo Vargas. We actually… Read more »

swimgeek
Reply to  Jared Anderson
8 months ago

Good research – I was going to say Quintero did this double (I guess not). Assuming Kibler makes the A-Final of the 500, he would have probably close to 10 minutes between swims. Not easy. But the recent “skins” races from ISL show what a super fit athlete can do on just 3 minutes rest. I think Kibler could do this pretty well. I agree with you that Texas doesn’t NEED him b/c of so many other options.

Mike
Reply to  swimgeek
8 months ago

I think the ISL skins game would be an argument against doing the double. The winner each time held up ok but the second place person most of the time could hardly summon the will to race.

Swammer from Wakanda
Reply to  Jared Anderson
8 months ago

Ricardo would never be on the 200 free relay. His range doesn’t go that far down.

dmswim
Reply to  Jared Anderson
8 months ago

Thanks for the additional context. It’s interesting no one has done it before. Maybe with Townley Texas chose to not have him do it because he was in contention for the title in the event. I still think Texas has probably done plenty of lactate sets with less than 10 minutes in between, and Kibler could do just fine.

Swimmy
Reply to  dmswim
8 months ago

Didn’t Townley do this all the time? Schooling and Conger always went for 4 free relay right after the 2 fly. Seems like Texas doesn’t worry about stuff like this

swimgeek
Reply to  Swimmy
8 months ago

2fly – 400FR has a lengthy diving break in between. Those swimmers got a 45-60 minute break. Still a tough double b/c 2fly is 2fly — but not the same as a 5-10 min break.

Will 37
Reply to  Swimmy
8 months ago

Townley never did it. For instance, in 2017, the 200 free relay for Texas was Ringgold, Schooling, Jackson and Conger.

Will 37
8 months ago

I personally had done the 200free relay/500 free double. It’s tough to swim the longer one after the short one, I think everyone would agree with this. Each race require a slightly different warm-up (like a couple 25/50 pace) to get ready.
Also, the difficult thing about having a double like that is not only the physical aspect. You have to disengage from the previous race super fast and shift into the next one, and you have 10-15 mins to do it. I do want to see a person like Kibler, who absolutely have the ability to perform good to do something unprecedented.