Highly-Touted Freshmen Make SEC Individual Debuts in 500 Free

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 1

February 20th, 2019 College, SEC


A pair of US National Teamers, Robert Finke and Andrew Abruzzo, missed the A-Final of the 500 free on Wednesday morning at the SEC Championships. In fact, in a loaded group of collegiate rookies, The one freshman to break through to the A-Final was Florida’s Trey Freeman (another US Senior National Team member). He swam 4:16.25 (his mid-season time was 4:16.34) to qualify 4th. His high school best was 4:15.06, and Andrew Mering estimates that it will take 4:15.4 to qualify for NCAAs this season.

Both swimmers are freshmen (at Florida and Georgia, respectively) and both swimmers beat their seed times by at least 2 seconds in the race. Both had well-earned accolades entering their freshmen seasons, and both teams’ fan-bases put high expectations on them coming into the year. The results of Wednesday’s 500 free prelims, however, underscores just how difficult the transition can be to collegiate swimming, especially on the men’s side.

Finke’s seed time in the 500, and season-best time, was 4:20.73; his lifetime best from high school was 4:17.79; and he swam 4:17.25 in prelims. Abruzzo’s season-best and seed time was 4:19.28 coming in; his best coming into college was a 4:21.81; and he swam a 4:17.24 in prelims to qualify 10th and for the B Final.

Both swimmers will need to drop time in their other events to ensure qualification for the NCAA Championships. Finke’s 14:55 in the mile is on-the-bubble, but another few seconds would lock him in for nationals in that race.

The B-Final of the 500 is loaded with top-quality freshman talent in a mid-to-distance group that stands out as probably the best freshman group in the country, by conference. Misssouri’s Jack Dubois qualified 9th in 4:17.23; and another Missouri freshman Jack Dahlgren qualified 12th in 4:17.67.

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Welcome to the bigger league…the biggest and bestest league bein the NCAA! Men’s NCAA is the GREATEST SWIM MEET IN THE GALAXY. (According to the recent poll on CNBC).

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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