Disclaimer: HardCore Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week. HardCore Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many hard-core swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks some as others grabbed the headlines.
We’re barely half-way through September, but the new NCAA swimming & diving season has already come crashing in.
Alabama and Delta State collided in the nation’s first dual meet of the 2014-2015 season last Friday, and the battle also brought us the first HardCore swim of college season.
Defending co-NCAA champ Kristian Gkolomeev was the story of the meet, cranking out a 19.50 to win the 50 free and serve notice to the NCAA that he’s back to defend his title, and perhaps aiming to stand alone on the top of the podium this season after sharing that spot with Arizona’s Brad Tandy a year ago.
What’s interesting is how Gkolomeev swam this race. He went out in 9.35, and in a 50 freestyle, that split is to his feet, meaning it includes the turn. That’s actually just a tenth slower than Gkolomeev went out in at NCAAs last spring.
- Delta State Dual: 9.35/10.15 = 19.50
- 2014 NCAAs: 9.25/9.70 = 18.95
Obviously, the back half still has a ways to go before Gkolomeev is back into the 18-second range. But his front-end speed is an encouraging sign, especially considering his splits from last year. That 9.2/9.7 split from a year ago was one of the tightest in the entire NCAA last year, and it was clear that if Gkolomeev wanted to go even faster, it was his early speed that would have to come around a bit more.
Going out in 19.3 at this point in the season is a great sign that Gkolomeev may be able to improve his opening split and drop even further into the 18s this season. In fact, the race he could be shooting to emulate is 2013 NCAA champ Vlad Morozov‘s senior-year run. Morozov went out in a blazing 8.99 to his feet, and came back in 9.64 for an 18.63. The Crimson Tide sophomore is already on pace to match that back-half split, so the challenge becomes opening speed.
The exciting thing about Gkolomeev’s time is how early in the year it came. That 19.50 only begins the wild ride that is an NCAA swim season. There’s still time for Gkolomeev to further improve his speed, or to drop off some in training. There’s still time for others (like Zona’s Tandy, perhaps) to fire back with their own mid-season times. Most of all, there’s still plenty time for many more HardCore swims.
Enjoy the anticipation, because March will be here before we know it.
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