Michigan’s Felix Auboeck Wins 4th-Straight Big Ten Title in 500 Free


Michigan senior Felix Auboeck completed a four-peat of the men’s 500 free on Thursday at the 2020 Big Ten Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships. His time of 4:10.14 broke the Indiana Pool Record and was about a second away from his Big Ten Championship Record of 4:09.29 set in 2018.

Auboeck is the 5th swimmer in conference history to four-peat in the 500 free. While the Big Ten has been holding conference championship meets since 1911, until 1963 the middle-distance race was a 440 yard event (in which nobody ever 4-peated).

All-Time Four-Peats, Men’s 500 Yard Free, Big Ten Swimming & Diving Championships:

  • John Kinsella, Indiana, 1971-1974
  • Chris Thompson, Michigan, 1998-2001
  • Peter Vanderkaay, Michigan, 2003-2006
  • Felix Auboeck, Michigan, 2017-2020

That 3 of the 4 men to have four-peated this race are Wolverines is not a surprise, as the Wolverines have largely dominated the conference’s distance freestyles. Dating back to 1993, Michigan has won 25 out of 28 500 free events at the Big Ten Championships. The only exceptions in that era were Bernie Zeruhn of Minnesota in 1996, George Markovic of Ohio State in 2010, and Matthew Hutchins of Wisconsin in 2015.

Comparative Splits, Big Ten Championships, Freshman through Senior

2017 2018 2019 2020
Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior
100y 48.44 48.76 49.50 48.60
200y 1:39.22 (50.78) 1:38.66 (49.90) 1:41.08 (51.58) 1:39.35 (50.75)
300y 2:30.03 (50.81) 2:29.09 (50.43) 2:32.07 (50.99) 2:30.35 (51.00)
400y 3:20.92 (50.89) 3:19.87 (50.78) 3:21.81 (49.74) 3:21.15 (50.80)
500y 4:10.63 (49.71) 4:09.29 (49.42) 4:09.37 (47.56) 4:10.14 (48.90)

The table above shows the evolution of Auboeck’s pacing throughout his career. As a freshman and sophomore, he opened the race pretty hard, but paid for it late. As a junior, he backed off early, and had a big closing kick over the last 150 yards. Now, as a senior, he’s found a balance between those approaches: he went out hard, swam very even for the next 300 yards, and had a good closing kick, though not as good as last year as a junior.

Auboeck’s challenge now will be to carry his 500 free through to the NCAA Championships. Last season, Auboeck had the fastest time in the country pre-NCAA Championships (4:09.37) by over 2 seconds, but in prelims he added 9 seconds to finish just 35th. After struggling through the first 3 days of the championships, Auboeck bounced back to win the men’s 1650 free on the final day of the meet.

His time on Thursday ranks him 2nd nationally this season in the event, behind only Florida sophomore Kieran Smith who swam the event’s fastest time ever at last weekend’s SEC Championships in 4:06.32. Texas A&M’s Mark Theall ranks 3rd (4:10.77) and Florida’s Bobby Finke ranks 4th (4:10.86).

Auboeck will have the chance to repeat his achievement in the 1650 free later in the meet. Michigan senior Charlie Swanson also has an opportunity to fourpeat on Friday in the 400 IM.

The conference as a whole graduated most of its champions after last season. Aside from Swanson and Auboeck, only two other swimmers or divers have the chance to defend individual titles at this year’s meet: Michigan’s Miles Smachlo in the 100 fly (one-time defending champion), and Gabriel Fantoni in both the 100 back (two-time defending champion) and 200 back (one-time defending champion).

Auboeck represents Austria internationally.

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How much can CD bench?

Wow! Thomson + Vanderkaay… what a great tradition of Michigan 500 4peats for Felix to join. Kinsella too… all Olympic medalists


And Kinsella was the first man to break 16:00 in the 1500, and Thompson was the first American to break 15:00 in the mile. And everyone knows PVK. Very impressive company.


Simply crazy to imagine that it took the USA 20 years to get a man under 15:00


Yeah, I mean 15:02 in 1976 and then more than 20 years to drop 3 seconds. Those ‘76 Trials/Olympics were crazy for US distance swimming.


The 1980 US boycott and then there 1984 USSR boycott really nerfed US distance swimming. It’s been 45 years and we haven’t seen another Tim Shaw

Coach Chackett

Felix was working on his pacing with that extra 500 at the Minnesota invite.


Pretty impressive list, especially if you consider Dolan only won one!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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