INSTANT ANALYSIS: What Does the NCAA’s Addition of the 100 IM Mean?

On Thursday, the NCAA announced 5 new rules changes, 4 of which will have major, sweeping impact across the competitive landscape. We will break-down each of those changes further in separate articles.

The 100 Yard Dash for Sprint Supremacy

Text from the NCAA announcement (the full rule language has not yet been released).

The panel also approved a rule allowing conferences to add the 100-yard individual medley to championship competition. It is not required.

The event will follow the 1,650-yard freestyle competition on the final day of the meet. The race is commonly held as the last event of international meets.

The 100 IM – a favorite race among summer leaguers, but one that rarely gets any respect at any level beyond that. The 100 IM has the potential to be one of the most intriguing races in swimming. No swimmer can be good enough at any one stroke to give them an advantage in a 100 IM without being good at all four strokes, or at least a monster underwater.

A 100 IM would pit some of the best swimmers from different disciplines of the NCAA against each other in what would truly be a battle of wills as much as anything else. Tom Shields vs. Vlad Morozov vs. Miguel Ortiz vs. David Nolan in a collegiate 100 IM that meant something would rank high on my personal list of ‘races I would spend my own money to watch.’ Those four all overlapped in their primes, too – that race could have happened in real life.

The 100 meter IM is an event raced internationally, at World Cup meets and at short course World Championship meets. It has no long course equivalent, because you can’t swim a 100 meter IM in a 50 meter pool without making mid-pool exchanges, which puts it even at an inferior state among non-Olympic events.

And yet, there’s so much intrigue to it, because a swimmer must be just ADD enough to handle the quick switches between strokes and still go hard.

The 100 IM is not yet approved for NCAA National Championship competition, but it is approved for conference championship meets, and this could be a stepping stone to a bigger stage in the future. Conferences will not be required to use the 100 IM, so there’s no guarantees that the race will ever happen. If it does, it will genuinely be paradigm-shifting in swimming.

In modern NCAA swimming, there is a huge (and growing) pool of swimmers whose two best events are the 100 fly and the 100 backstroke, who are then sent out to hunt for a 3rd event that is not necessarily a primary. Often times, that race is a 200 yard race (either the 200 IM, the 200 back, or the 200 fly) that requires a different level of training that’s not necessarily conducive to the athlete’s two best events.

What the addition of the 100 IM would allow is for those athletes to still swim an event that’s squarely within their zone of competency; training for a 25 breaststroke, for example, would not be as significant of a change to a swimmer’s regimen as training for an extra 100 yards worth of butterfly, for example.

The long-term result could be an improvement in overall American abilities to sprint; however, it could also cause an overall long-term detriment to the 200 yard stroke races.

On a more obvious level, the biggest drawback is that it would further extend what is the longest session of a championship meet as-is.

{erhaps as a result of not having the event in NCAA competition, the Americans have been sub-par internationally. They’ve won 4 of the 9 World Championships ever offered men in the event (including three-straight by Ryan Lochte), but only one minor medal (a bronze by Lochte in 2014). They’ve also won just 1 of 9 on the women’s side (Ariana Kukors in 2010), and only 2 medals of any color ever).

Our guess is that in year one, this new event will be adopted by smaller conference interested in publicity and attracting more swimmers to their programs, and will eventually be adopted by the larger, generally more conservative, conferences. We’re sure Michigan head coach Mike Bottom will be fighting hard to get it added to the Big Ten schedule sooner rather than later, though.

The 100 IM would come immediately after the 1650 free on the last day of a meet. In the most commonly-used three, four, and five-day meet formats (though there are other established options), below is what that would look like:

3-Day Championship with platform diving, no 1000 free


15. 1,650-yard [1,500 m] freestyle—Last heat of time finals
16. 100-yard IM
17. 200-yard [200 m] backstroke
18. 100-yard [100 m] freestyle
19. 200-yard [200 m] breaststroke
20. 200-yard [200 m] butterfly
21. Platform diving—Finals*
22. 400-yard [400 m] freestyle relay

4-day championship with platform diving


30. 1,650-yard [1,500 m] freestyle (M)—Last heat of time finals
31. 1,650-yard [1,500 m] freestyle (W)—Last heat of time finals
32. 100-yard IM (M)
33. 100-yard IM (W)
34. 100-yard [100 m] freestyle (M)
35. 100-yard [100 m] freestyle (W)
36. 200-yard [200 m] backstroke (M)
37. 200-yard [200 m] backstroke (W)
38. 200-yard [200 m] breaststroke (M)
39. 200-yard [200 m] breaststroke (W)
40. Three-meter diving (W)—Finals*
41. 400-yard [400 m] freestyle relay (M)
42. 400-yard [400 m] freestyle relay (W)

5-day championship (currently used primarily by SEC)


32. 1,650-yard (1,500m) freestyle (M) – Last heat of time finals
33. 1,650-yard (1,500m) freestyle (W) – Last heat of time finals
34. 100-yard IM (M)
35. 100-yard IM (W)
36. 200-yard backstroke (M)
37. 200-yard backstroke (W)
38. 100-yard freestyle (M)
39. 100-yard freestyle (W)
40. 200-yard breaststroke (M)
41. 200-yard breaststroke (W)
42. Platform diving (M)–Finals
43. 400-yard freestyle relay (M)
44. 400-yard freestyle relay (W)


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Is there an american record in the event?


If they do eventually add it to the NCAA reportoire, I would like to see them change the rules to allow 3 individual swims + 100IM.


Throw a bone to the distance swimmers in DI and DIII: add the 1000 as a championship event, as it is in DII.

Then, add the 4×200 Medley Relay or the Distance Medley: 50-100-200-500.


The 1000 takes up too much time. 100 IM is more fun to watch, and more swimmers want to swim it. This is coming from a distance swimmer who is trying to be realistic……


I’m all for the 100 IM – it is a blast to swim and a blast to watch. However, I agree with BaldingEagle about the 1000 and wholeheartedly disagree with G3 – the distance events can be FAR more exciting to watch and they absolutely don’t take up too much time. Do we really not have an extra 15 minutes (e.g., 5 to do walkout & accouncements, 10 to get the heat swum and cleared from the pool) in a finals session of NCAAs to have a heat of 1000s?


I would very much like to see the Texas 4×200 Medley of Conger-Licon-Schooling-Smith. That record would stick around for quite some time.


I always argue against the 1000 because its so similar to the mile. Barring bad swims, the top 8 in both would often be identical with maybe 5th and 6th place swapped.

Even with the 50 and 100 you have raw muscle 50 swimmers and those who come down from the 200. Every NCAA swimmer has to be somewhat versatile to swim 3 events well, so I think it’s totally fair that distance swimmers have to be as well.


Could you imagine the Stanford women in a few years on a distance medley relay… Ledecky-500, Manuel-200, Neal-100. Anybody on earth could swim the 50 and still win

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of 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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