Top NCAA D1 Men Lag Behind Last Year

by Andrew Mering 11

November 07th, 2018 College, News

We’re a more than a month into the men’s NCAA season and nearly every championship relevant team has competed multiple times. This means the top swimmers in the division have all put up times. With this early data, what can we tell about the state of the top end of the division?

Individual Events

The first thing I looked at was the top ten times in each event this year and each of the previous 7 years as of November 6th. They are slower this year than last almost across the board. This is the first year in the last 6 that has been true. The average of the top 10 times is on average .6% slower than at this point last season. At no point in the last 6 years has the top 10 average been any worse than .1% faster than the year before. The complete top 10 average time change data is in the table below.

The savior of this season is the mile which has been 1.5% faster than last year among top swimmers, but that is probably just a regression to the mean because the mile last year was much slower than the year before (1.6%). 10 of 13 individual events had a slower top 10 average than at this point last year.

Time Change of Average of Top 10 Times

Negative is faster. Positive is slower. 2019 is this season.

2013 vs 2012 2014 vs 2013 2015 vs 2014 2016 vs 2015 2017 vs 2016 2018 vs 2017 2019 vs 2018
Average -0.1% -0.8% -0.2% -0.5% -0.3% -0.3% 0.6%
100 Fly -0.4% -0.5% -0.2% -0.8% -0.2% -1.2% 1.4%
200 Fly -0.9% -1.2% 0.0% -0.4% -0.3% -0.1% 0.8%
50 Free 0.3% -0.5% -0.5% -0.1% -0.5% -0.2% 0.5%
100 Free 0.8% -0.6% -0.1% -0.5% -0.8% -0.4% 1.3%
200 Free -0.1% -0.5% 0.1% -0.4% -0.5% -0.8% 1.1%
500 Free 0.3% -0.1% 0.0% -0.5% -0.4% -0.2% -0.2%
1650 Free 0.2% -0.8% -0.1% -0.3% -0.6% 1.6% -1.5%
100 Breast 0.6% -0.9% -0.8% -0.1% 0.2% -0.6% -0.3%
200 Breast 0.1% -1.1% -0.4% -0.2% 0.0% -0.2% 0.4%
100 Back 0.0% -0.6% -0.5% -1.5% -0.5% -0.5% 0.8%
200 Back -0.5% -1.0% 0.1% -1.4% 0.0% -0.4% 1.0%
200 IM -0.4% -1.5% 0.1% -0.6% -0.4% -0.4% 1.4%
400 IM -0.8% -0.9% -0.1% 0.2% -0.5% -0.7% 0.8%

So what does it mean? Possibly not very much. There isn’t a very strong correlation between time change in the top 10 swimmers this time of year and time change in the top 10 swimmers at the end of the year. That isn’t surprising. With a sample size as low as 10, this data can be as much a measure of who has actually swum the event as much as swimmer quality.

However, the fact that this year’s data is so different across the board than last year’s data may mean something. The only event in the past with over a 1% slow down this time of year, the mile last year, saw a 1.5% slow down at the end of the year.

The difference almost looks like a systemic departure from the past years. Only twice in the past 7 years was the top 10 average in an event more than .8% slower than the year before. This year, that’s true in 8 of 13 events. Last year’s senior class was exceptionally strong. Perhaps their absence is dragging down the average. However, individual swimmer departures would be more likely to affect some events more than others. This year’s slow down is pretty across the board.

On a swimmer by swimmer basis, for the most part, it seems like top teams have been performing pretty normally relative to themselves at this point last year. Maybe that means we’re in for a bit of a correction at the top after the explosive speed of last year’s NCAA championships. Or maybe the lack of correlation between these early season time changes and end of season improvement will continue.

In short: What does it mean going forward? I’m not sure. There isn’t a track record for the pattern we’ve seen so far to base our expectations on. This will be something to keep an eye on the rest of the way.

Team Race

One way to check up on the current state of the team race is the current Swimulator simulation of the national meet. Swimulator takes the current top times done so far this season and simulates the national meet with legal and reasonable event line ups for swimmers (3 individual event limit, no consecutive events). Many teams are at different points in their training cycle so far, so team’s rankings mean different things for different teams. To help put the current rankings into context, I included the rankings from last year as of 11/6 and the final ranking last year.

Currently Cal sit first with 303.5 points, well ahead of their 250 at this point last year. They are trailed by the closely bunched group of Florida with 250, USC with 245.5, and Indiana with 245. These scores do not include diving

Swimulator Data

Current Swimulator Score Last Year as of 11/6 Last Year Final
California 303.5 250 413.5
Florida 250 373 346
Southern Cali 245.5 198 222.5
Indiana 245 292.5 330
Louisville 233 71 139
Alabama 232.5 255.5 79.5
Texas 211 134 376.5
NC State 180.5 207 393.5
Ohio St 123 18 32.5
Virginia Tech 115 22 1
Texas A&M 94.5 133 49
Michigan 92.5 185 165
Virginia 90 0 16.5
Georgia 87 60 119
Notre Dame 84.5 67 23.5
Minnesota 79 35 73
Florida St 65 78.5 50
Missouri 59.5 14 25
Tennessee 51.5 163 60
West Virginia 51 34 6.5
Miami (Ohio) 45 0 0
UNC 44 33 0
Georgia Tech 40 22 2.5
Cincinnati 40 0 0
Arizona St 39.5 157 35
Kentucky 35 16 0
UCSB 34 0 0
Missouri St. (M) 32 0 0
Hawaii 32 0 2
CSUB 30 0 0
Iowa 30 2 0
Pittsburgh 28 21 0
Stanford 26 121 192
Xavier 22 0 0
Drexel 18 30 0
Grand Canyon 16 8 22
Towson 16 0 4
Arizona 14 37 65.5
South Dakota 14 22 0
Wisconsin 13 0 0
LSU 12 0 0
Northwestern 12 0 0
Loyola (MD) 12 0 0
South Carolina 12 21 56
Utah 10 38 4
Cleveland St 10 0 0
Duke 8 31 0
Holy Cross 8 0 0
Denver 5 7 21
William & Mary 4 3 0

Top 10 Times Each Event as of November 6th

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
100 Fly 1 47.42 47.83 47.21 47.3 46.97 46.55 46.03 47.14
100 Fly 2 47.94 47.85 47.36 47.48 47.2 46.91 46.09 47.14
100 Fly 3 48.01 47.88 47.71 47.54 47.22 46.93 46.31 47.25
100 Fly 4 48.03 47.97 47.76 47.56 47.24 47.1 46.57 47.26
100 Fly 5 48.24 47.98 47.78 47.71 47.3 47.23 46.68 47.28
100 Fly 6 48.3 48.06 47.84 47.74 47.31 47.25 46.89 47.3
100 Fly 7 48.37 48.13 47.85 47.83 47.33 47.32 47 47.38
100 Fly 8 48.54 48.15 47.9 47.86 47.54 47.39 47.01 47.44
100 Fly 9 48.7 48.16 48.11 47.91 47.55 47.53 47.02 47.49
100 Fly 10 48.74 48.2 48.22 47.92 47.61 47.63 47.1 47.5
200 Fly 1 1:47.31 1:45.54 1:43.55 1:43.78 1:44.19 1:42.64 1:42.08 1:43.81
200 Fly 2 1:47.63 1:45.73 1:43.80 1:43.93 1:44.69 1:44.02 1:43.28 1:44.26
200 Fly 3 1:47.67 1:46.00 1:44.17 1:44.34 1:45.18 1:44.52 1:44.18 1:45.27
200 Fly 4 1:47.91 1:46.89 1:45.41 1:44.77 1:45.20 1:44.69 1:44.35 1:45.77
200 Fly 5 1:48.07 1:47.19 1:46.05 1:45.95 1:45.27 1:45.37 1:44.86 1:45.98
200 Fly 6 1:48.12 1:47.75 1:46.55 1:46.72 1:45.27 1:45.63 1:45.25 1:46.02
200 Fly 7 1:48.20 1:47.90 1:46.82 1:46.90 1:45.78 1:45.65 1:45.65 1:46.19
200 Fly 8 1:48.25 1:47.91 1:47.11 1:46.96 1:45.86 1:45.72 1:46.28 1:46.27
200 Fly 9 1:48.40 1:47.98 1:47.23 1:47.03 1:46.00 1:45.82 1:46.41 1:46.53
200 Fly 10 1:48.72 1:48.11 1:47.24 1:47.06 1:46.06 1:45.93 1:46.41 1:46.54
50 Free 1 19.79 20.03 19.87 19.5 19.36 19.44 19.1 19.65
50 Free 2 19.84 20.03 19.93 19.76 19.65 19.47 19.65 19.77
50 Free 3 19.9 20.04 19.97 19.77 19.83 19.56 19.66 19.79
50 Free 4 19.98 20.04 19.99 19.93 19.87 19.75 19.77 19.88
50 Free 5 20.11 20.14 20.04 19.94 19.98 19.81 19.8 19.89
50 Free 6 20.15 20.16 20.04 19.96 20.01 19.82 19.83 19.89
50 Free 7 20.22 20.18 20.09 20.01 20.05 19.92 19.85 19.9
50 Free 8 20.24 20.22 20.09 20.03 20.06 19.92 19.89 19.93
50 Free 9 20.28 20.23 20.11 20.04 20.08 19.94 19.92 19.94
50 Free 10 20.28 20.26 20.12 20.08 20.09 19.95 19.93 19.96
100 Free 1 42.93 43.65 43.85 43.3 43.01 43.09 42.65 43.4
100 Free 2 43.59 43.77 43.91 43.69 43.17 43.1 42.95 43.6
100 Free 3 43.61 44.04 44.03 43.74 43.4 43.22 43.07 43.81
100 Free 4 43.99 44.28 44.03 43.9 43.58 43.25 43.22 43.85
100 Free 5 44.02 44.37 44.03 44.1 43.94 43.28 43.26 43.87
100 Free 6 44.07 44.53 44.06 44.12 44.01 43.41 43.36 43.88
100 Free 7 44.26 44.6 44.09 44.2 44.04 43.48 43.36 43.89
100 Free 8 44.3 44.6 44.09 44.31 44.11 43.73 43.42 43.89
100 Free 9 44.33 44.66 44.13 44.32 44.14 43.79 43.5 43.91
100 Free 10 44.43 44.68 44.34 44.32 44.19 43.85 43.61 43.92
200 Free 1 1:34.66 1:35.26 1:35.71 1:36.08 1:34.81 1:35.75 1:34.10 1:34.84
200 Free 2 1:37.21 1:36.11 1:36.16 1:36.29 1:35.49 1:35.82 1:34.16 1:35.82
200 Free 3 1:37.27 1:37.04 1:36.31 1:36.52 1:35.91 1:35.99 1:34.59 1:36.23
200 Free 4 1:37.29 1:37.39 1:36.53 1:36.78 1:36.55 1:36.03 1:35.13 1:36.32
200 Free 5 1:37.71 1:37.52 1:36.58 1:36.93 1:36.71 1:36.09 1:35.56 1:36.33
200 Free 6 1:37.74 1:37.60 1:37.26 1:36.93 1:37.06 1:36.19 1:35.64 1:36.47
200 Free 7 1:37.92 1:37.81 1:37.40 1:36.95 1:37.08 1:36.24 1:35.65 1:36.66
200 Free 8 1:38.00 1:37.92 1:37.42 1:37.33 1:37.19 1:36.27 1:35.80 1:36.80
200 Free 9 1:38.12 1:38.13 1:37.43 1:37.54 1:37.21 1:36.27 1:36.22 1:36.89
200 Free 10 1:38.22 1:38.17 1:37.47 1:37.55 1:37.38 1:36.35 1:36.32 1:37.07
500 Free 1 4:16.92 4:21.20 4:22.13 4:21.84 4:20.29 4:17.09 4:15.41 4:17.06
500 Free 2 4:20.15 4:21.44 4:22.50 4:22.03 4:21.95 4:19.05 4:19.71 4:19.92
500 Free 3 4:24.43 4:24.50 4:23.09 4:22.72 4:22.20 4:21.82 4:20.72 4:19.96
500 Free 4 4:24.52 4:25.47 4:24.56 4:23.38 4:23.08 4:21.84 4:21.32 4:20.34
500 Free 5 4:25.00 4:25.70 4:24.78 4:24.67 4:23.22 4:22.73 4:21.66 4:21.91
500 Free 6 4:25.17 4:25.81 4:25.28 4:24.81 4:24.15 4:23.53 4:22.59 4:22.27
500 Free 7 4:26.20 4:25.96 4:25.69 4:25.84 4:24.24 4:23.73 4:23.64 4:22.30
500 Free 8 4:26.28 4:26.05 4:25.93 4:26.37 4:24.44 4:23.79 4:24.07 4:22.53
500 Free 9 4:26.34 4:26.18 4:26.02 4:27.12 4:24.55 4:23.85 4:24.08 4:22.70
500 Free 10 4:26.37 4:26.54 4:27.19 4:27.22 4:24.75 4:24.71 4:24.55 4:22.96
1650 Free 1 15:22.69 15:27.55 15:17.37 15:24.13 15:06.56 14:57.58 15:19.82 15:08.35
1650 Free 2 15:25.33 15:29.15 15:22.15 15:24.54 15:17.30 15:03.04 15:20.20 15:13.13
1650 Free 3 15:34.14 15:32.73 15:22.35 15:26.57 15:21.15 15:10.80 15:26.03 15:17.10
1650 Free 4 15:34.22 15:33.77 15:32.41 15:27.12 15:27.94 15:16.68 15:29.62 15:17.22
1650 Free 5 15:35.28 15:36.01 15:33.35 15:28.25 15:31.83 15:19.00 15:32.35 15:18.29
1650 Free 6 15:39.64 15:40.61 15:34.76 15:32.35 15:32.85 15:26.99 15:35.25 15:23.16
1650 Free 7 15:39.93 15:44.69 15:35.54 15:32.54 15:32.89 15:33.22 15:51.12 15:32.03
1650 Free 8 15:46.08 15:47.27 15:36.47 15:32.83 15:35.34 15:34.55 15:51.31 15:33.29
1650 Free 9 15:47.11 15:47.40 15:39.54 15:39.32 15:35.34 15:37.56 15:52.20 15:35.84
1650 Free 10 15:48.20 15:49.73 15:40.91 15:41.57 15:35.44 15:43.03 15:53.69 15:36.19
100 Breast 1 54.28 54.28 54.09 53.22 52.13 53.77 53.19 51.82
100 Breast 2 54.36 54.85 54.14 53.38 53.51 53.85 53.34 53.49
100 Breast 3 54.55 54.85 54.28 53.99 54.12 53.86 53.4 53.67
100 Breast 4 54.69 54.99 54.37 54.04 54.19 53.87 53.42 53.69
100 Breast 5 54.73 55.06 54.43 54.22 54.22 54.18 53.7 53.74
100 Breast 6 54.76 55.08 54.67 54.23 54.29 54.21 53.83 53.86
100 Breast 7 54.81 55.11 54.8 54.24 54.29 54.25 54.09 53.94
100 Breast 8 54.88 55.26 54.86 54.42 54.33 54.28 54.2 53.98
100 Breast 9 54.93 55.37 54.87 54.5 54.48 54.34 54.32 54.11
100 Breast 10 55.06 55.49 55.01 54.67 54.62 54.45 54.34 54.12
200 Breast 1 1:58.38 1:58.83 1:57.20 1:56.74 1:55.87 1:54.62 1:55.93 1:56.69
200 Breast 2 1:59.06 1:58.96 1:57.61 1:56.83 1:57.08 1:57.50 1:56.79 1:56.81
200 Breast 3 1:59.63 1:59.01 1:57.98 1:57.11 1:57.52 1:57.53 1:57.01 1:57.91
200 Breast 4 1:59.69 1:59.44 1:58.70 1:57.48 1:57.75 1:57.84 1:57.79 1:57.92
200 Breast 5 2:00.01 2:00.08 1:58.73 1:57.73 1:58.07 1:57.89 1:58.14 1:58.02
200 Breast 6 2:00.27 2:00.18 1:58.82 1:58.80 1:58.34 1:58.60 1:58.16 1:58.74
200 Breast 7 2:00.31 2:00.60 1:58.94 1:58.92 1:58.46 1:58.70 1:58.21 1:59.07
200 Breast 8 2:00.35 2:00.75 1:59.19 1:59.31 1:58.84 1:58.77 1:58.49 1:59.10
200 Breast 9 2:00.51 2:01.04 1:59.75 1:59.60 1:58.84 1:58.82 1:58.54 1:59.12
200 Breast 10 2:00.63 2:01.24 1:59.91 1:59.68 1:59.01 1:59.26 1:58.60 1:59.15
100 Back 1 47.73 47.82 47.43 47.17 46.21 45.82 45.97 46.26
100 Back 2 48.09 48.01 47.69 47.43 46.21 46.08 46.24 46.76
100 Back 3 48.33 48.37 48.13 47.94 46.92 46.74 46.29 47.17
100 Back 4 48.34 48.44 48.13 47.94 47.2 46.91 46.38 47.2
100 Back 5 48.45 48.55 48.25 47.96 47.39 47.15 46.58 47.21
100 Back 6 48.55 48.57 48.26 48.13 47.43 47.37 46.83 47.25
100 Back 7 48.59 48.6 48.34 48.16 47.48 47.4 47.25 47.33
100 Back 8 48.71 48.64 48.36 48.17 47.65 47.4 47.33 47.34
100 Back 9 48.75 48.65 48.36 48.18 47.77 47.42 47.36 47.4
100 Back 10 48.8 48.83 48.42 48.22 47.81 47.52 47.39 47.48
200 Back 1 1:45.92 1:45.21 1:43.13 1:43.98 1:41.35 1:40.32 1:40.44 1:42.53
200 Back 2 1:46.57 1:45.44 1:44.93 1:44.37 1:42.84 1:41.80 1:40.50 1:42.94
200 Back 3 1:46.58 1:45.66 1:45.13 1:45.11 1:43.37 1:43.27 1:43.02 1:44.08
200 Back 4 1:46.71 1:46.03 1:45.13 1:45.17 1:43.38 1:43.53 1:43.37 1:44.34
200 Back 5 1:46.78 1:46.04 1:45.30 1:45.18 1:43.66 1:44.23 1:44.17 1:44.44
200 Back 6 1:46.82 1:46.12 1:45.33 1:45.32 1:43.87 1:44.62 1:44.33 1:45.06
200 Back 7 1:47.02 1:46.31 1:45.61 1:45.51 1:44.76 1:44.86 1:44.41 1:45.14
200 Back 8 1:47.03 1:46.85 1:45.67 1:45.94 1:44.79 1:45.28 1:44.55 1:45.29
200 Back 9 1:47.05 1:46.99 1:45.76 1:46.26 1:45.03 1:45.28 1:44.79 1:45.34
200 Back 10 1:47.19 1:47.21 1:45.76 1:46.30 1:45.08 1:45.43 1:44.79 1:45.45
200 IM 1 1:48.49 1:48.08 1:45.23 1:46.04 1:45.07 1:44.20 1:44.02 1:45.58
200 IM 2 1:48.75 1:48.26 1:45.83 1:46.71 1:45.49 1:45.56 1:44.51 1:46.51
200 IM 3 1:49.08 1:48.45 1:46.10 1:47.13 1:45.86 1:45.91 1:44.88 1:46.65
200 IM 4 1:49.14 1:48.84 1:46.71 1:47.35 1:46.07 1:46.17 1:44.99 1:47.51
200 IM 5 1:49.55 1:49.19 1:46.76 1:47.58 1:46.32 1:46.48 1:45.90 1:47.53
200 IM 6 1:49.71 1:49.30 1:48.06 1:47.63 1:46.95 1:46.61 1:46.56 1:47.67
200 IM 7 1:49.86 1:49.42 1:48.09 1:47.79 1:47.19 1:46.89 1:46.57 1:47.69
200 IM 8 1:50.00 1:49.52 1:48.84 1:47.95 1:48.16 1:47.06 1:46.74 1:47.83
200 IM 9 1:50.01 1:49.52 1:49.09 1:48.25 1:48.30 1:47.08 1:46.99 1:47.92
200 IM 10 1:50.19 1:49.70 1:49.21 1:48.30 1:48.34 1:47.20 1:47.23 1:47.97
400 IM 1 3:50.96 3:50.92 3:48.39 3:49.07 3:46.59 3:41.49 3:43.11 3:49.75
400 IM 2 3:51.24 3:51.15 3:49.29 3:50.38 3:50.26 3:47.44 3:47.78 3:50.13
400 IM 3 3:54.05 3:53.38 3:49.47 3:50.49 3:50.26 3:50.38 3:48.42 3:50.47
400 IM 4 3:54.53 3:53.44 3:51.43 3:50.69 3:50.60 3:50.59 3:49.83 3:50.54
400 IM 5 3:56.70 3:53.75 3:51.58 3:51.04 3:52.15 3:51.69 3:49.84 3:50.61
400 IM 6 3:56.95 3:54.33 3:51.60 3:51.66 3:52.39 3:52.09 3:50.02 3:50.83
400 IM 7 3:57.39 3:54.50 3:52.16 3:51.74 3:52.62 3:52.78 3:50.13 3:50.87
400 IM 8 3:57.62 3:54.67 3:53.35 3:52.60 3:53.09 3:53.05 3:50.36 3:50.91
400 IM 9 3:57.81 3:54.73 3:53.99 3:52.62 3:55.11 3:53.80 3:50.44 3:52.31
400 IM 10 3:58.17 3:55.00 3:54.08 3:52.77 3:55.55 3:54.36 3:50.58 3:53.04

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kdswim

On the mile difference. At this point in the season the 1650 has not been offered in many meets. Out of the current top 10 times, 8 are out of two meets last weekend (representing 4 schools). A single other meet with some top distance guys last year offering a 1650 could have had a big impact on times at that point in the season.

Former Texas Longhorn

Here’s one possible explanation: Perhaps the top teams are training harder earlier in the season this year and their swimmers are more broken down than last year. Last year Texas lost dual meets to Indiana, Florida, Texas A&M, and NC State and then won the NCAA Championships. Perhaps, more teams are minimizing dual meet results in favor of the NCAA Championships. I will be interested to see if the results and conclusions above still hold after the November/December Invitationals where most everyone rests so they can make NCAA cuts. If the times are still slower then I think the conclusions above are reasonable. Otherwise, it may only reflect a diminished emphasis on October dual meet results this season. P.S. I… Read more »

FORMER TEXAS LONGHORN – read this, which I think might be of interest to you: https://swimswam.com/ncaa-october-performance-who-is-faster-so-far/

All signs point to Texas being less broken down than last year, by admission, and by the data. So, that’s worth considering.

Also, just to clear the deck – Orange/White results weren’t officially submitted last year or this year (or included in this analysis, or the above October analysis).

Johnny Twobad

Conspicuously missing from all these stats is the number of meets held during the respective reporting periods. When did these teams start their meet season, who was the competition, which members of their team swam their primary events, etc.? For a valid comparison, all this information, and more, needs to be made available.

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