NCAA D1 Men Performance at Nationals vs Seed Time

by Andrew Mering 15

March 09th, 2017 College, News

The NCAA released the official psych sheet for this year’s national meet yesterday. Scoring out the psych sheet (without diving) shows NC State in the lead by 10 points over Texas. Last year Texas turned a 31 point lead over NC State into a 190.5 point victory. Given recent history, that performance by Texas should not be considered surprising. Texas and California have been the clear leaders in dropping time at nationals vs seed among top D1 men’s teams.

Typical Performance vs Seed at Nationals

I pulled data from the past 7 seasons (2009/10 through 2015/16) for D1 men’s times entering nationals and at nationals and calculated the time change (calculated by:(Nationals time-Pre Nationals time)/Pre Nationals time, so a negative percentage means a swimmer got faster). Over that time period, swimmers added an average of .19% to their seed times at nationals with a standard deviation of 1.2% on 4045 data points. This is a smaller time add with higher volatility than D1 women over the same time period. The women added .45% on a standard deviation of 1% (the full write up on the women’s data).  Here’s the men’s time change distribution:

There were 77 teams that sent an individual swimmer to nationals over the last 7 years, 8 of which dropped time on average from their seed times at nationals. Only 3 of those 8 had more than 10 swims at nationals, California dropped an average of .63% on 313 swims, Texas dropped .59% on 288, and Arizona dropped .18% on 217 (the complete table is below). In the women’s data, none of the big schools dropped time on average. The gap between California and Texas and the average time change for everyone else not from those two schools at this meet is around .9%. That’s remarkably large. Put another way, simply being from California or Texas instead of another school is worth almost a second on average vs a seed time in a 200.

For teams with more than 20 swims at a single national meet over the last 7 years, the top 7 performances and 12 of the top 15 performances by average time drop belong to California and Texas (the other 3 were Arizona, the complete table is below). The best single meet performance was California in 2012 when they dropped an average of 1% on 44 swims. Texas’s best was also 2012 when they dropped .9% on 37 swims. Neither Texas nor California ever added time on average in a single year. The best non Texas/California performance was Arizona in 2013 when the dropped .61% on 33 swims.

This year’s other top ranked team’s have mixed histories at this meet. NC State, this year’s top ranked team on the psych sheet only had 2 years with more than 20 swims at nationals, 2015 and 2016. They dropped .04% on 25 swims last year, but added .22% on 22 swims in 2015. Florida had a great year last year when the dropped .34% on 36 swims, but have also had some less stellar performances. In 2015 they added .35% on 38 swims and in 2013 added .28% on 39 swims. Indiana’s history is less than stellar. Overall they are the lowest ranked team with at least 100 swims over the last 7 years where they added an average of .57% on 108 swims. There were two years where they had more than 20 swims. In 2016 they added .88% on 21 swims, and in 2013 they added .71% on 24 swims.

Individual Performance

The biggest factor in how a team performs vs their seed is how heavily they rested at previous meets during the season. We can’t say for sure how much anyone rested thus far this season, but there are an awful lot of swimmers with exceptional resumes from Texas who aren’t ranked very high on the psych sheet (ex. Olympic champion Joseph Schooling is 11th in the 200 fly).

In the women’s data there was a clear difference between highly ranked swimmers who presumably hadn’t needed to rest as much to qualify and lower ranked swimmers. Women in the top 5 added an average of .06% vs .45% for the rest of the field. This gap was much smaller for men. Top 5 men’s swimmers added .06% (sd 1.1%) vs .21% (sd 1.2%) for the rest of the field. 50% of top 5 men dropped time time from their seeds vs 42% of swimmers ranked out side of the top 5 before the meet.

How Much Small Differences Matter

A few tenths of a percent one direction or another may not sound like a whole lot, but the margins in a meet as competitive as NCAA’s are pretty slim. The average distance between consecutive places in the top 16 on this year’s psych sheet is .18%. The difference for a team with 12 entries ranked in the top 16 between adding .2% on average and dropping .2% on average is at least 25 points. On the psych sheet (without diving) there are 5 teams with 12 or more entries in the top 16 ranked with 48 points of 1st place.

I included tables below with the team by team 7 year averages, the single year performances for large teams, and a list of the top individual performances vs seed at nationals over the last 7 years (there were 16 drops of more than 2.5%).

All Men’s Teams Average Percentage Time Changes at Nationals 2010-2016

School Average Time Change vs Seed Number of Times Standard Deviaion
Cincinnati -0.93% 3 0.33%
GW -0.72% 1
California -0.63% 313 1.16%
Texas -0.59% 288 1.34%
Arizona -0.18% 217 1.20%
WKU -0.11% 6 1.36%
Cleveland St -0.10% 3 0.98%
UMBC -0.07% 6 0.66%
Missouri 0.00% 72 0.90%
Georgia 0.02% 201 1.17%
Dartmouth 0.03% 4 1.82%
Wisconsin 0.04% 50 1.11%
Missouri St. 0.04% 17 0.77%
Stanford 0.04% 247 1.19%
Louisville 0.06% 114 1.13%
Saint Peters 0.07% 2 1.85%
Florida 0.10% 257 1.18%
Brigham Young 0.18% 14 0.94%
UC Davis 0.18% 3 0.36%
Old Dominion 0.22% 9 0.67%
Alabama 0.25% 59 1.36%
Michigan 0.25% 218 1.08%
Southern Cali 0.29% 183 1.29%
Minnesota 0.30% 74 0.96%
Arizona St 0.31% 25 0.67%
Kentucky 0.32% 35 1.20%
Utah 0.35% 28 0.82%
Eastern Mich 0.35% 11 0.86%
NC State 0.35% 76 0.87%
LSU 0.38% 40 1.47%
Virginia Tech 0.42% 57 1.28%
Ohio St 0.43% 116 1.00%
UNC 0.44% 101 1.09%
Cal Poly 0.44% 10 1.29%
Texas A&M 0.46% 57 1.13%
Auburn 0.48% 204 1.26%
Virginia 0.50% 102 1.24%
South Carolina 0.50% 35 1.27%
Penn St 0.55% 53 0.89%
Notre Dame 0.56% 48 1.14%
Columbia 0.57% 15 1.51%
Indiana 0.57% 108 1.11%
Davidson 0.58% 3 0.97%
Denver 0.63% 19 1.06%
UNLV 0.63% 50 1.17%
Tennessee 0.64% 84 1.33%
Clemson 0.64% 10 0.92%
Duke 0.67% 16 1.00%
Oakland 0.68% 7 1.15%
Gardner-Webb 0.70% 3 1.10%
TCU 0.71% 5 0.97%
Florida St 0.71% 52 1.08%
SMU 0.72% 14 1.61%
Penn 0.74% 22 0.95%
Michigan St 0.78% 14 1.52%
East Carolina 0.78% 5 0.73%
Northwestern 0.78% 22 1.09%
Iowa 0.80% 28 0.84%
Wyoming 0.80% 15 1.43%
Georgia Tech 0.82% 25 0.89%
Yale 0.85% 15 0.78%
West Virginia 0.93% 15 1.40%
Princeton 0.95% 29 1.37%
UNC Wilmington 0.99% 2 0.45%
Purdue 0.99% 26 1.10%
CSUB 1.02% 6 0.98%
Harvard 1.08% 27 0.89%
U.S. Navy 1.17% 15 1.22%
Cornell 1.24% 2 0.25%
UCSB 1.25% 10 0.64%
Air Force 1.32% 3 1.33%
Brown 1.37% 4 0.53%
Hawaii 1.58% 8 0.69%
Pittsburgh 1.67% 1
Boston U 2.01% 1
Loyola (MD) 2.66% 2 1.11%
Seton Hall 2.77% 3 1.58%

Men’s Teams with At Least 20 Swims in a Single Year Average Percentate Time Changes at Nationals

School Year Average Time Change vs Seed Number of Swims Standard Deviaion
1 California 2012 -1.00% 44 1.12%
2 Texas 2012 -0.90% 37 1.09%
3 California 2014 -0.81% 44 1.01%
4 California 2011 -0.77% 48 0.97%
5 Texas 2016 -0.64% 42 1.29%
6 Texas 2015 -0.62% 46 1.21%
7 Texas 2010 -0.61% 48 1.64%
8 Arizona 2013 -0.61% 33 1.15%
9 California 2010 -0.57% 45 1.09%
10 Texas 2011 -0.57% 46 1.35%
11 Arizona 2011 -0.56% 38 1.04%
12 Texas 2014 -0.55% 42 1.35%
13 Arizona 2010 -0.53% 40 1.24%
14 California 2013 -0.51% 44 0.92%
15 California 2015 -0.42% 42 1.46%
16 Georgia 2016 -0.41% 29 0.87%
17 Florida 2016 -0.34% 36 1.17%
18 Stanford 2014 -0.34% 24 1.17%
19 California 2016 -0.31% 46 1.38%
20 Stanford 2012 -0.29% 45 1.25%
21 Alabama 2016 -0.29% 20 1.24%
22 Georgia 2012 -0.28% 22 1.38%
23 Stanford 2011 -0.16% 37 0.99%
24 Florida 2010 -0.10% 35 0.98%
25 Louisville 2015 -0.10% 24 0.86%
26 Stanford 2013 -0.10% 40 1.29%
27 Southern Cali 2013 -0.08% 25 0.84%
28 Michigan 2015 -0.06% 29 0.94%
29 Texas 2013 -0.06% 27 1.33%
30 NC State 2016 -0.04% 25 0.89%
31 Georgia 2011 -0.04% 21 1.42%
32 Virginia 2011 -0.04% 21 0.77%
33 Georgia 2013 -0.01% 28 1.02%
34 Georgia 2014 0.01% 29 0.96%
35 Michigan 2013 0.02% 46 0.98%
36 Florida 2012 0.05% 32 1.61%
37 Southern Cali 2014 0.07% 25 1.14%
38 Southern Cali 2012 0.07% 21 0.93%
39 Ohio St 2010 0.07% 23 1.03%
40 Florida 2014 0.08% 39 1.07%
41 Auburn 2014 0.11% 22 1.01%
42 Arizona 2014 0.13% 26 0.94%
43 Stanford 2010 0.16% 36 1.16%
44 Southern Cali 2011 0.19% 28 1.02%
45 UNC 2010 0.21% 21 0.63%
46 NC State 2015 0.22% 22 0.77%
47 Virginia 2010 0.25% 20 0.90%
48 Auburn 2011 0.26% 36 1.12%
49 Florida 2013 0.28% 39 1.26%
50 Georgia 2015 0.30% 34 1.01%
51 Georgia 2010 0.33% 38 1.36%
52 Michigan 2012 0.34% 23 0.96%
53 Arizona 2012 0.34% 45 1.16%
54 Florida 2011 0.34% 38 1.07%
55 Southern Cali 2010 0.35% 23 1.02%
56 Michigan 2014 0.35% 32 0.78%
57 Florida 2015 0.35% 38 0.94%
58 Michigan 2016 0.37% 29 1.55%
59 Michigan 2010 0.37% 30 0.98%
60 Auburn 2012 0.43% 29 0.94%
61 Stanford 2015 0.47% 36 1.04%
62 Auburn 2015 0.52% 24 1.16%
63 Michigan 2011 0.53% 29 1.21%
64 Auburn 2016 0.54% 27 1.30%
65 Auburn 2010 0.58% 48 1.48%
66 Virginia 2013 0.60% 22 0.55%
67 Southern Cali 2015 0.61% 36 1.75%
68 Louisville 2012 0.62% 25 1.41%
69 Arizona 2016 0.64% 22 1.03%
70 Stanford 2016 0.66% 29 1.11%
71 Southern Cali 2016 0.67% 25 1.67%
72 Indiana 2013 0.71% 24 1.07%
73 Indiana 2016 0.88% 21 1.14%
74 Virginia 2014 1.21% 20 1.41%

Top Individual Time Drops from Seed 2010-2016

Name School Year % Time Change Event Nationals Time Seed
1 Spann, Scott Texas 2010 -5.20% 200 Breastroke 1:52.24 1:58.40
2 Taylor, Hill Texas 2010 -4.48% 200 Backstroke 1:41.55 1:46.31
3 Walters, Dave Texas 2010 -4.42% 200 Freestyle 1:33.04 1:37.34
4 Darmody, Kip Texas 2014 -4.37% 200 Backstroke 1:40.18 1:44.76
5 Darmody, Kip Texas 2015 -4.35% 200 Backstroke 1:41.47 1:46.08
6 Turner, James Florida 2012 -4.29% 100 Freestyle 43.75 45.71
7 Bosch, Dylan Michigan 2016 -4.16% 100 Butterfly 45.64 47.62
8 Cragin, Cole Texas 2011 -4.09% 200 Backstroke 1:42.04 1:46.39
9 Cieslak, Marcin Florida 2012 -4.00% 100 Butterfly 45.86 47.77
10 Madwed, Dan Michigan 2011 -3.96% 100 Butterfly 45.57 47.45
11 Reynolds, Doug Georgia 2012 -3.82% 200 Freestyle 1:37.08 1:40.94
12 Camp, Parker Virginia 2012 -3.62% 100 Backstroke 47.43 49.21
13 Jakl, David Columbia 2015 -3.59% 200 Butterfly 1:43.75 1:47.61
14 Cordes, Kevin Arizona 2015 -3.44% 100 Breastroke 50.25 52.04
15 Murphy, Ryan California 2016 -3.33% 200 IM 1:40.27 1:43.72
16 Murphy, Ryan California 2014 -3.32% 200 IM 1:42.24 1:45.75
17 Bartlett, Matt Georgia 2011 -3.31% 200 Freestyle 1:35.21 1:38.47
18 Katis, Chuck California 2015 -3.29% 200 Breastroke 1:50.54 1:54.30
19 Nolan, David Stanford 2012 -3.26% 50 Freestyle 19.6 20.26
20 Burns, Owen Virginia Tech 2014 -3.20% 100 Freestyle 43.83 45.28
21 Almeida, Carlos Louisville 2012 -3.15% 200 Breastroke 1:51.88 1:55.52
22 Small, Adam Arizona 2011 -3.11% 100 Freestyle 42.74 44.11
23 Cragin, Cole Texas 2010 -3.09% 100 Backstroke 46.11 47.58
24 Friedemann, Mitchell Arizona 2013 -3.08% 200 Backstroke 1:42.54 1:45.80
25 Katis, Chuck California 2014 -3.05% 200 Breastroke 1:52.64 1:56.18
26 Blondell, Caryle Louisville 2013 -3.04% 100 Backstroke 47.77 49.27
27 Friedland, Eric Texas 2012 -3.01% 100 Breastroke 52.46 54.09
28 Tribuntsov, Ralf Southern Cali 2016 -2.98% 100 Butterfly 46.27 47.69
29 Pickard, Chris Stanford 2014 -2.96% 100 Freestyle 43.97 45.31
30 Jaeger, Connor Michigan 2013 -2.94% 200 Freestyle 1:33.81 1:36.65
31 Haas, Townley Texas 2016 -2.93% 200 Freestyle 1:30.46 1:33.19
32 Prenot, Josh California 2016 -2.90% 200 IM 1:40.14 1:43.13
33 Tarczynski, Marcin California 2012 -2.89% 200 IM 1:41.97 1:45.00
34 Fitton, Alex South Carolina 2013 -2.88% 50 Freestyle 20.23 20.83
35 Ress, Eric Indiana 2011 -2.86% 200 Backstroke 1:38.96 1:41.87
36 Appleby, Andrew Ohio St 2016 -2.85% 100 Freestyle 43.57 44.85
37 Stubblefield, Seth California 2012 -2.85% 50 Freestyle 19.41 19.98
38 Hoyt, Trevor California 2012 -2.82% 200 Breastroke 1:51.90 1:55.15
39 Switkowski, Jan Florida 2016 -2.82% 200 Freestyle 1:32.14 1:34.81
40 Murphy, Ryan California 2016 -2.82% 100 Backstroke 43.49 44.75

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marklewis

Most swimmers are a little slower at the NCAAs. It is a big achievement to even make the cuts.

Except for Texas and California. Their swimmers can qualify without a full taper. So they drop a little more at the Big Meet.

Probably will be the same this year. But, it’s a big expectation to have, so their first few swims are pressure-packed to fulfill this expectation.

Question

Didn’t qualification criteria change after 2012? Couldnt the better teams qualify people from relays alone and in some cases wouldn’t have to worry about individual entry times? So any data before then would be comparing apples and oranges, right?

Coach MM

The most realistic way to pre-score the meet would be using swimmers personal best times. Since super talented swimmers from Cal and Texas don’t need to really shave and taper to qualify for NCAAs, it makes no sense to score a meet out with Schooling seeded as 11th. Wondering if someone already scored the meet using swimmers life time best times.

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