Matthew Sates Shows No Trouble Adapting in First 2 SEC Championship Swims

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 0

February 16th, 2022 College, News, SEC


The 2022 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships are not the first meet for University of Georgia’s first-semester freshman Matt Sates, but after testing the water in the bathtub against Emory a few weeks ago, this is his first serious competition on American soil.

Through his first two races, Sates is already showing why Georgia swimming fans were so excited about his arrival.

First, on Tuesday, he swam 1:31.82 on the leadoff leg of Georgia’s 800 free relay. That relay swam 6:09.32 and were faster than the former Meet Record, though Florida’s winning time of 6:08.00 broke it first.

That swim is the fastest by a freshman in the NCAA this season, about half-a-second better than the 1:32.38 done by Louisville rookie Murillo Sartori at the ACC Championships on Tuesday, and the 5th-fastest ever done by an NCAA freshman.

Fastest-Ever Freshmen, Men’s 200 Yard Freestyle:

  1. Townley Haas, Texas, 2016 – 1:30.46
  2. Dean Farris, Harvard, 2017 – 1:31.56
  3. Cameron Craig, Arizona St., 2017 – 1:31.71
  4. Drew Kibler, Texas, 2019 – 1:31.76
  5. Matthew Sates, Georgia, 2022 – 1:31.82
  6. Felix Auboeck, Michigan, 2017 – 1:32.02
  7. Maxime Rooney, Florida, 2017 – 1:32.18
  8. Jake Magahey, Georgia, 2021 – 1:32.22
  9. Baturap Unlu, Georgia Tech, 2021 – 1:32.27
  10. Luke Miller, NC State, 2021 – 1:32.28

The swim also breaks Jean Basson’s all-time South African best in the event of 1:32.48, and ranks him 4th among the Commonwealth’s all-time best: a list led by Dylan Carter’s 1:30.95, Simon Burnett’s former long-standing US Open Record of 1:31.20, and Shaune Fraser’s 1:31.70.

Mohamed Samy of Egypt, a former Indiana Hoosier, is still the African Record holder in the event for now at 1:31.73. Sates’ swim just-barely sneaks him into the all-time top 25 in the event, according to USA Swimming, at 25th: one spot behind Samy.

He’s only three-tenths behind Mathias Koski’s school record of 1:31.54 from 2016.

Then in Wednesday’s 500 free prelims, Sates swam a 4:13.65, which was within a tenth of the top seed in the event. He’s standing up against a very good field event, including Kieran Smith of Florida and his teammate Jake Magahey. Magahey is the defending NCAA Champion in the event, and Smith is the fastest swimmer in history in the event.

That outing is much better than Sates’ 4:31 against Emory, which included stopping the race a 50 early (and then restarting) after the swimmer next to him stopped early.

But now, even with just his prelims swim, Sates is the second-fastest freshman in the NCAA this season behind only Texas’ Luke Hobson (who leads all NCAA swimmers with his mid-season 4:09.72). Cal’s Gabriel Jett is 3rd on that list in 4:13.90.

Sates’ 500 free ranks him somewhere around 25th all-time among freshmen, but his finals swim could change that. In prelims, Sates went out with a very controlled stroke and was the second-fastest swimmer to 200 yards (.01 behind Florida’s Tyler Watson, who swam a personal best to qualify 6th).

Remember that Sates, because of his seed time being just 4:31, was in Heat 2 of 7, meaning that he finished about 12 seconds or 13 yards ahead of everyone else in his heat in a course, and pacing, that he’s not fully familiar with yet.

While Sates still has less than a month of Georgia training under his belt, his adaption to a new country, a new coach, new teammates, and a new education system seems to be going well so far. He brings huge expectations to Athens this season, but his first big hurdle, ensuring qualification for the NCAA Championships, is cleared.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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