Fifth Year Van Mathias Makes Most of Lineup Change, Qualifies 2nd Overall in 100 Breast

by Robert Gibbs 3

March 24th, 2023 News


You don’t see many swimmers change up their NCAA lineup in their last year of competition. You definitely don’t see many swimmers change it up in their fifth year of eligibility.

But Indiana fifth-year Van Mathias is defying the odds this season, and a new approach seems to be paying off in spades. After spending the first four years of his career primarily as a butterfly specialist (albeit a versatile one), Mathias made the switch to a sprint free and breaststroke focus this year, and it clicked.

In the fall semester, Mathias blasted a sub-23 breast split in a dual meet. He won the 50 free at the 2023 Big Ten Championships, took 2nd in 100 breast behind Max McHugh at the Big Ten Championships, and also was the runner-up in the 100 free.

Yesterday, he netted his first NCAA scoring swim with an 11th-place finish in the 50 free, hitting a lifetime best of 18.89 in prelims.

Today, though, Mathias took it to a whole new level, as he knocked the better part of a second off of his lifetime best in the 100 breast. Coming in with a best of 51.32, he went 50.57 in prelims to qualify 2nd overall behind the perennial champion McHugh. Assuming a legal finish, tonight will mark the first time Mathias scores in the top eight at NCAAs.

Coming out of high school, Van Mathias was versatile, but was primarily a butterfly specialist. After all, he was the runner-up behind Luca Ulrando in both the 100 and the 200 fly at the 2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships. His short course times weren’t quite as strong, but he was still a very respectable 47.9/1:46.3, and we had him pegged as a butterflier…and so did Indiana. Over his first three seasons as a Hoosier, Mathias consistently swam a 200 IM, 100 fly, and 200 fly championship lineup.

Here were his lifetime bests in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 breast coming into this season:

  • 50 free – 20.05
  • 100 free – 43.70
  • 100 breast – 54.74

And here’s how they look now:

  • 50 free – 18.89
  • 100 free – 41.58
  • 100 breast – 50.57

From what we can see in the SWIMS database, Mathias barely swam the 100 breast during the first four years of college. That 54.74 came at one dual meet last year, and was his first lifetime best in the event since December 2017. But obviously the change has been good for the fifth year Hoosier, and tonight he’ll swim for a NCAA championship in an event in which he wasn’t on anyone radar’s, probably including his own, heading into this season.

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IU Swammer
2 months ago

Plus a top-5 all-time fastest 50 br split, and was one of the top 15 splits on the 800 relay. The man’s a competitor.

2 months ago

doctor called, said the tests were positive. he concluded:

Van Mathias, in fact, has that dawg in him

2 months ago

Breastroke U

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