2021 ACC Men’s Swimming Championships
- When: Wednesday, February 24th to Saturday, February 27th Prelims 10:00 am | Finals 6:00 pm (1650 prelims Saturday at 4:00 pm)
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: North Carolina State University (NC State) (29x, 6th-straight) (results)
- Streaming: ACC Network
- Championship Central: Here
- Detailed Timeline: Here
- Psych Sheets: Here
- Live Results
- Thursday Finals Heat Sheet
While we intuitively know that records are made to be broken, and that swimming is supposed to keep getting faster, that knowledge doesn’t prevent us from being continually surprised at just how fast it’s gotten.
Whether it’s multiple men hitting 4:06 in the same heat of the 500 free, high school girls going under 50 seconds in the 100 fly, or anything without flippers going 17.63 in the 50 free, the sport will always find ways to amaze us.
One of the big stories of the last couple days has been just how fast college freshmen are getting. It started yesterday at the SEC Men’s Championships, where Florida’s Adam Chaney became the 2nd-fastest freshman ever, behind Caeleb Dressel. Chaney actually went sub-19 three times yesterday, registering a 18.88 in prelims, a 18.77 in finals, and then a 18.76 leading off the 200 free relay. Lost in the glare of that story and the double 4:06 500 free, though, was the fact that Alabama’s Matt King also dipped under 19 in the 50 free, clocking a 18.96 individually and then a 18.98 leading off Alabama’s 200 free relay.
Fast forward to today at the ACC Men’s Championships, and Virginia freshman Matt Brownstead won the 50 free in 18.88, making him the 3rd freshman in two days to go under 19, and making him the 4th-fastest freshman ever in the event (and putting him within striking distance of the top US men ever in the event).
Furthermore, Brownstead is still 18, and his swim today moves him from 5th to tied for 4th all-time among U.S. swimmers in the 17-18 age group.
All-Time 17-18 Boys Rankings – 50 FR SCY
- 18.67, Caeleb Dressel (2015)
- 18.71, Ryan Hoffer (2016)
- 18.76, Adam Chaney (2021)
- 18.88, Michael Andrew (2018)/Matt Brownstead (2021)
But the fun doesn’t stop there. As part of a record-breaking bonanza today at the Oklahoma High School state championships, high school senior Aiden Hayes clocked a 19.20 that moves him to #5 all-time in the 17-18 age group. That time broke the national high school record of 19.24, previously held by…Matt Brownstead. Care to take a guess who owned that record before Brownstead? Sure enough, the one and only Caeleb Dressel, who clocked a 19.29 in 2013, the year before he became the fastest college freshman ever.
Hayes, who we ranked as the #1 recruit in the high school boys class of 2021, will likely face off against Brownstead at next year’s ACCs, as he’s part of an incredibly stacked class of NC State recruits. We won’t go into all of that class here, but we will point out that it includes David Curtiss, who’s been under 22.0 in long course multiple times, and has a lifetime best of 19.42 in yards. We’ve seen what NC State could do with relative diamond in the rough types like Ryan Held, or Justin Ress, the latter whom ended up at 18.96 as a college junior after having not cracked 20.0 in high school, and it should be fun to see what happens to guys like Hayes and Curtiss (or any of the other top-notch recruits heading to other ACC schools) over the next few years.
But the larger point is that, while we may not see anyone pull a Dressel and get under 18 seconds again anytime soon, that the fact that three college freshmen from three club programs and different college programs got under 19.0 in two days is a sign that 18 is becoming the new 19, and something we are going to see more and more of in the next few years. At the 2019 NCAA Championships, seven of the eight finalists were under 19.0 in prelims. Does that necessarily mean that it’ll take a sub-19 to make the A-final this year? Not necessarily. But it’s coming, and like these college freshmen, it’s coming fast.