- September 16, 2023
- University of Arkansas – Little Rock
- SCY (25 yards)
It’s still early in the 2023-24 NCAA season, but there’s been no shortage of speed so far. And the All-Arkansas Invite, one of the first non-intrasquad meets of the season, was no exception. Henderson State teammates Jack Armstrong and Lamar Taylor dropped some early season speed in the 50 freestyle, with Armstrong leading off the 200 free relay in 19.57 and Taylor winning the individual event in 19.58.
At 2023 Division II NCAAs, Taylor and Armstrong went 1-2, clocking 19.04 and 19.30 respectively for the top two spots on the podium. These two times are fast enough that they would have made the ‘A’ final — it took 19.66 to qualify.
At the time of posting, Armstrong and Taylor are the 3rd and 4th fastest male 50 freestylers in the NCAA across all-divisions. The only two faster are ASU’s Jack Dolan (19.16) and Jonny Kulow (19.31).
Taylor swept the sprint freestyles at 2023 NCAAs, winning the 100 freestyle in a personal best 42.30. Armstrong was third (43.40) and Henderson State was the only school to put two swimmers through to the ‘A’ final.
In the 100 freestyle at the All-Arkansas Invite, both swimmers backed up their performances in the 50 free. Armstrong took the win in 42.77 — faster than he went in the NCAA final and about two-tenths off his personal best. Taylor was second in 43.41. It was another 1-2 finish for Henderson State, and also reasserted the pair as the most formidable sprint free duo in Division II.
Both swimmers are coming off big summers. Taylor swam four personal bests representing the Bahamas at 2023 Worlds and Armstrong swam for the U.S at the World University Games after swimming bests earlier in the summer. After the meet, Armstrong told SwimSwam that “it’s an exciting way to start the season. It’s good to be able to train with coaches and teammates who are encouraging in practice and push me.”
The pair teamed up for two more wins in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. The squad of Taylor, Mark Eberhard, Jase Pickney, and Armstrong went 1:29.33 in the medley relay. Then, Armstrong, Pickney, Tim Holt, and Taylor posted 1:20.15 to win the 200 free relay.
One of the main storylines of the 2022-23 NCAA season was early season speed in the 50 freestyle. Notably, Division I saw a record seven men go sub-19 seconds by midseason. It’s only September, but based on these results and those around the NCAA the past two weeks, it seems that early sprint speed is back on the menu this season.