2022 Bulldog Last Chance Meet
- February 26-27, 2022
- Gabrielsen Natatorium, Athens, Georgia (University of Georgia)
- Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
- Day 1 Prelims Results
- Day 1 Finals Results
The University of Georgia hosted one of a number of “Last Chance” meets this weekend with a primary purpose for swimmers who may have missed tapers or time goals at their conference meets to have one last qualifying opportunity for the NCAA Championships.
Historically, between 26-30 men’s swimmers are invited to NCAAs per individual event, and between 36-40 women’s swimmers.
At Last Chance meets, a swimmer can swim a race in a prelim, final, time trial, and relay leadoffs, but cannot swim a race endlessly to chase a better time.
For the women, this is the last weekend to post times for NCAA qualification consideration, with the cutoff for result submission being 11:59PM Eastern Time on Sunday.
The host Georgia Bulldogs made good work of the opportunity with three swimmers posting times that rank them in the top 10 all-time in school history:
- Sophomore Wesley Ng swam a 45.93 in the very last event of the day, a 100 backstroke time trial. That takes half-a-second off his previous best time and ranks him 4th all-time in Georgia program history. That jumps him from 50th place to 26th place in the country this season. With lots of Last Chance meets remaining, plus the Pac-12 men’s championships next week, that means he’s squarely on the bubble.
- Georgia junior Zach Hils swam the 7th-best 200 IM in program history with a B-cut of 1:43.15. That jumps him from 31st in the NCAA this season to 21st, which puts him on the right side of the bubble.
- Georgia first semester freshman Matt Sates swam a 3:41.85 in the 400 IM, which is the 9th-best time in school history. Sates is already easily qualified for NCAAs with the top time in the country in the 500 free and an ‘A’ cut in both the 200 and 500 free, but without any NCAA swims in the 400 IM, he needed a ‘B’ cut to have it as an option for NCAAs. That time jumps him up to 11th in the country this season. He will probably have to choose between the 200 free and the 400 IM at NCAAs. He also time-trialed a 1:44.83 in the 200 IM, to secure that option as well. He swam the 500 free, 200 free, and 200 fly at SECs.
- Georgia’s Abby McCulloh is already qualified for NCAAs with an ‘A’ cut in the 1650 free and a ‘B’ cut in the 500 free, but a 1:59.19 in the 200 fly gives her a third event for NCAAs. That would be a tough finals double at NCAAs, given that she’ll probably be in the last heat of the 1650 free.
- After missing SECs, Georgia freshman Rachel Stege swam a best time in the 500 free prelims of 4:43.07. That moves her up to 37th in the country, which puts her squarely on the bubble to join her older sister Kristen of Tennessee as an NCAA qualifier in this event.
- Eboni McCarty improved her season best in the 50 free from 22.21 at SECs (48th) to 22.10 in prelims (34th). That gives her a chance with only Last Chance swims remaining to bump her down.
- Mia Abruzzo jumped into NCAA invite position in the 400 IM with a best time of 4:09.79. That ranks her 32nd in the NCAA this season.
Other storylines include Auburn’s Mikkel Gadgaard chasing an NCAA qualification via Last Chance meet for the second straight year.
Last season, Gadgaard needed a post-conference Last Chance meet to qualify for the NCAA Championships. After swimming 4:16.60 for 9th place at SECs, he was back in the pool two weeks later and dropped a 4:12.80, which easily got him to Greensboro.
This year, he missed the SEC Championships with what the school called a non-COVID illness.
In prelims on Saturday he swam 1:34.08, which shaved .04 seconds off his previous season-best. That moves him up a few spots, but still ranks him in the 40s, which won’t get an invite to NCAAs. He’ll now have to count on a 500 free on Sunday to qualify, an event where it currently looks like about a 4:14.0 will qualify. His lifetime best is a 4:12, but his season best is only 4:16.
The University of Florida also had a lot of work to do after a number of swimmers missed the SEC Championships for COVID-19 protocols (though they still dominated the meet).
The Gators locked up a number of additional qualifiers on the day, including:
- A 19.12 from Will Davis, who missed NCAAs, ties him for 14th in the NCAA. Barring something crazy at Pac-12s, that should put him in for NCAAs. His brother Isaac Davis also swam a 50 free, but was just 19.57. The cut line for the last three years in this event have been 19.46-19.32-19.35, but this year, it appears as though that line will fall around 19.20 or 19.21.
- Dillon Hillis swam 51.31 in the 100 breaststroke. He swam the opening night’s 200 medley relay at SECs, but was ruled out with COVID-19 after that. By beating out his previous season best of 52.37, he jumps from 32nd in the event to 9th. He finished 2nd in the event at last year’s NCAA Championship meet.
- After missing SECs in COVID health and safety protocols, double Olympic gold medalist Bobby Finke had to time trial the 400 IM on Saturday. He is the defending NCAA Champion in that race (and the 1650), but because he had no 400 IM swim this season, he still needed a “B” cut to defend his title. He got that with a 3:47.68.
- Florida first-semester freshman Ekaterina Nikonova swam 1:44.83 in the 200 yard free. That’s over a second faster than she swam at SECs. She was previously very on-the-bubble for qualifying for NCAAs via her 100 free, but that time ties her for 30th in the NCAA this season and should put her ‘in.’
- Sophomore Amanda Ray was probably okay for NCAA qualifying with a 1:55.53 in the 200 fly from SECs, but a 1:54.83 on Saturday moves her into lock territory. With that swim, she jumped from 32nd in the country to 19th.
- Junior Kathleen Golding jumped from bubble territory in the 400 IM (39th – 4:11.10) to lock territory (29th – 4:09.36).
Other Bulldog Last Chance Day 1 Notables
- George Washington’s Djurdje Matic swam a 45.64 in the 100 fly in prelims and 45.52 in finals. He gained attention earlier this season by swimming a 46.14 and breaking a Michael Phelps Pool Record at Navy. On Saturday, he jumped from 32nd in the NCAA in the event to 22nd. That’s not a lock for NCAA qualifying, but does put him in a good position.
- A number of swimmers improved their standing in the 200 back. Alabama junior Jake Marcum swam 1:40.16 to jump from 27th to 13th; Alabama sophomore Eric Stelmar swam 1:40.75 to jump from 31st to 21st; and Georgia’s Iam Grum swam 1:40.79 to jump from 36th to 22nd. Marcum should be in with that swim, while the other two are on the bubble.
- Auburn freshman Jacques Rathle swam 3:43.07 in the 400 IM, which jumps him from 40th in the NCAA this season (3:45.92) to 19th and in strong position for an NCAA Invite.
- Charlie Hawke of Alabama, a freshman, swam 1:33.09 in the 200 yard free. That jumps him to 25th in the NCAA rankings, which is probably on the wrong side of the bubble for now.