How Low Can He Go? Leon Marchand Appears Primed For Another Record-Setting 400 IM


You can’t blame swim fans for being just a smidgen greedy, at least in regard to wanting to see some amazing times. And after five NCAA records have gone down in Minneapolis over the last two days, it seems like a foregone conclusion we’ll see some more tonight.

And with all due to respect to the 400 medley relay, which will close out the session, the most anticipated swim of the night may come in the very first event, the 400 IM.

Of course, that event features the defending NCAA champion and former U.S. Open record holder, Hugo Gonzalez, and the reigning long course World Championships silver medalist, Carson Foster, and there’s certainly a non-zero chance that either one could pull out the win.

But for most fans (including 96.9% of those who entered our Pick ‘Em contest), it’s a foregone conclusion that Arizona State sophomore Leon Marchand will continue his onslaught on the record book with some sort of video game-esque time in the 400 IM. After all, he’s already broken the record twice in the last two months, and after last night, he’s now the fastest man ever in the 200 IM by nearly two seconds. In this morning’s prelims race, he was ahead of record pace through the first half of the 400 IM, then seemed to shut it down, “coasting” to a 3:34.47 and taking the top seed of the morning ahead of Gonzalez (3:35.86) and Foster (3:36.38).

So, with appropriate apologies to Gonzalez, Foster, and ASU teammate Hubert Kos, let’s ponder for a moment…just how low can Marchand go?

Marchand’s 2023 Split Comparisons

Leon Marchand, 2023 NCAA Prelims Leon Marchand, 2023 Pac-12 Championships (current US Open and NCAA record) Leon Marchand, 2023 ASU vs. Cal dual meet (former US Open and NCAA record)
Fly 47.22 48.20 48.75
Back 53.72 54.19 53.68
Breast 60.95 59.08 59.30
Free 52.58 50.10 50.11
Total 3:34.47 3:31.57 3:31.88

Again, Marchand was well under his own record pace through the first half of this morning’s swim, thanks largely to an incredibly swift 47.22 opening leg. His breaststroke leg was then nearly two seconds slower than it was when he set the current record earlier this morning, and his freestyle leg was almost a second and a half slower.

If we add Marchand front half from this morning with his backhalf from Pac-12s, we get a time of 3:30.12. That’s tantalizingly close to the 3:29 swim that a lot of swim fans seem to be chattering about. And Marchand has yet to show any difficulties swimming substantially faster in finals than in prelims. Here’s how his NCAA Championships career looks so far in that regard:

Event Prelims Finals
200 IM (2022) 1:38.83 1:37.69
400 IM (2022) 3:37.97 3:34.08
200 Breast (2022) 1:50.38 1:48.20
200 IM (2023) 1:38.33 1:36.34

Without getting too deep into the math, it looks safe to project Marchand to drop right around four seconds again from prelims to finals. That puts him at a 3:30-mid, enough to knock another second off of the all-time mark, but not enough to get under the magical, mystical 3:30-barrier. Again, the “safe” bet is that he breaks the all-time mark by a second.

The big question here may be just how much Gonzalez, Foster, and the rest of the field could push him. If Marchand has a three second lead towards the end of the race, it might be temping to drop it down a gear and save a little bit for the 400 medley relay, an event in which ASU may be the hunt for a team title. If he’s got men on his heels (and again, it’d be foolhardy to totally ignore that possibility), that may propel him into hitherto-unfathomable territory.

Either way, swims fan should be in store for a race for the ages tonight here in Minneapolis. What’s your prediction for Marchand’s time tonight?

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2 months ago

In another comment section, I predicted he’d go sub 1:36.5 and a high 3:28. I was “dead on, balls accurate” [it’s an industry term]. We are fortunate to be watching the greatest swimmer of the post-Phelps generation.

2 months ago

At this point who the hell knows, he’s divided by zero, in another realm entirely, taking out a 400 IM in :47, that’s complete nonsense.

But what I’m wishing for is this: Carson Foster’s “Thor’s Powers Awaken” moment. Last year his “Hammer” was destroyed and he started this redemption arc. Both Foster brothers will team up for one last ride, leave it all in the pool swims of their life, “real eye of the tiger stuff”. This is their last race together. Jake will wear Marchand out on the breaststroke and Carson will draft until he drops the Stormbreaker 100 free split to the head we never saw coming.

Or Marchand wins in 3:28.99, I have no idea.

Reply to  Drewbrewsbeer
2 months ago



Grant us eyes
2 months ago

3.29.2 mark that

Mike McCormack
2 months ago

Depends on how much he was retaining before shutting it down at 200 this morning. If he was very near to full throttle on the first 2, then expect maybe 3:30.5; if there was significant gas still in the engine, 3:30 is going down. Glad we don’t know. That’s why they swim ’em!

Juan Cena
2 months ago

3:28.91, going out in 1:39

Bo Swims
Reply to  Juan Cena
2 months ago

.11 off I was .22 off & got downvoted 🤦‍♂️

2 months ago

I hope 3.29.99. To make history. I think it’s possible. 4 sec 48 faster than in the prelims.

2 months ago

FL splits were super strong in prelims, aim for 47.0

BK we saw 22-high/23-low during the 200. Can he do 26-mid/25-high? realistic goal 53.0

BR Is solid all-around. He’s been 29.0/30.0 and 29.5/29.7 at best for 59-lows. Still, he can do 58.5

FR if we compile his best opening and closing 50s in a 4IM, 25.76/24.16 gets 49.92. It’s well within his physical capabilities based on past performance. He closes in 49.9


Last edited 2 months ago by SSNP
2 months ago

I thought he got really close to coming up after the 15m on backstroke in the 2IM, how would you like to be the official that calls that and he goes 3:27 or something insane?? I wouldn’t call it lol

Bo Swims
Reply to  Timekeeper
2 months ago


Reply to  Timekeeper
2 months ago

Officials gotta call it like they see it. No one should get an exception no matter how fast they are.

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