NCAA DI Championships Analysis: Comparing The Cutoff Times Over The Last Few Years, Updated To Include 2009

Update: Because many of our commenters were curious about invites from the NCAA’s super suit era (aka 2009), we did some research and made our best comparison. The NCAA selection process changed since 2009, so the cutoff times were faster than noted below, but for comparison value, we took the 30th or 40th fastest time of the season prior to the NCAA Championships. These times will be a little faster because the athletes were not limited to their three NCAA events. If one swimmer has a top 30 time in more than 3 events, they were counted in all of their events. Interestingly, none of the times from 2009 were faster than this year’s invite times. 

Now that invites have been sent out for the men’s and women’s NCAA DI Championships, we wanted to continue our analysis of what it takes to make it to the NCAA Championships.

This year is one of the fastest years ever for the men, if not the fastest ever. Last year, we saw some big drops between the 2012-13 season and the 2013-14 season. Last year, the only event that was slower than the year before was the 165o, and only by 3 tenths of a second. This year, almost every event is faster on the men’s side than it was in 2014 or 2013. The only event that is slower this year is the men’s 50 freestyle. Three swimmers tied for the final spot at 19.52.

Other than the 50 freestyle, we saw some big improvements this year across the board. The men’s 500 freestyle is more than a second faster than it was last year and a second and a half faster than in 2013. The 400 IM had a large drop from 2013 to 2014, and this year another half a second came off of that invite time. The 200 freestyle is close to being a full second faster than it was two years ago at 1:34.54.

Breaststroke dipped under 53 seconds for the first time in NCAA history. There was also a big improvement seen in the 1650 freestyle this year after getting slower in 2014. That event is now under 15 minutes at 14:59.20.

Take a look at the invited times for the last 3 men’s NCAA DI Championships:

Men 2012-2013 Invited Times 2013-2014 Invited Times 2014-2015 Invited Times
500 Free 4:18.70 4:18.31 4:17.15
200 IM 1:45.08 1:44.71 1:44.58
50 Free 19.67 19.47 19.52
400 IM 3:46.72 3:45.64 3:45.34
100 Fly 46.74 46.58 46.37
200 Free 1:35.34 1:34.71 1:34.54
100 Breast 53.37 53.23 52.97
100 Back 46.95 46.57 46.46
1650 Free 15:03.07 15:03.42 14:59.20
200 Back 1:43.03 1:42.41 1:41.95
100 Free 43.14 42.98 42.94
200 Breast 1:55.97 1:55.64 1:55.04
200 Fly 1:44.74 1:43.81 1:43.74

2009 30th Fastest Men’s Time Of Year Prior To NCAA’s (For Comparison)

  • 500 Free – 4:17.92
  • 200 IM – 1:45.71
  • 50 Free – 19.53
  • 400 IM – 3:47.90
  • 100 Fly – 46.62
  • 200 Free – 1:34.80
  • 100 Breast – 53.64
  • 100 Back – 47.19
  • 1650 Free – 15:04.16
  • 200 Back – 1:43.01
  • 100 Free – 43.06
  • 200 Breast – 1:56.36
  • 200 Fly – 1:44.27

*Red font denotes slower than year before
**Red font from 2009 denotes slower than 2014-15

The women look more consistent than the men do. 10 of 13 events were faster than the year before, just like last year’s invites were. Most of the events were barely faster than they were last year, unlike the guys events where we saw some drops that were more than a second or very close. I thought it was interesting to note that the women’s 200 IM was exactly the same as last year, and the 50 free was only .01 seconds off.

There were a handful of large drops, however. The 400 IM dropped a half a second from last year, but it still isn’t back to the 2013 cutoff time of 4:11.92. The 100 backstroke dropped under 53 for the first time, requiring a 52.97 to make the meet. The biggest drop for the girls was the women’s 1650 freestyle. It took a 16:17.3 to make the meet this year compared to a 16:20.3 last year.

Three events did get slower this year. The 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, and 200 butterfly were all slower than the cutoff times from last year. If you compare the times, however, they stayed fairly close so it will not be noticeable at the meet.

Take a look at the invited times for the last 3 women’s NCAA DI Championships:

Women 2012-2013 Invited Time 2013-2014 Invited Time 2014-2015 Invited Times
500 Free 4:42.90 4:42.79 4:42.73
200 IM 1:58.51 1:58.13 1:58.13
50 Free 22.45 22.40 22.39
400 IM 4:11.92 4:12.63 4:12.11
100 Fly 52.99 52.92 52.79
200 Free 1:46.10 1:46.03 1:45.94
100 Breast 1:00.72 1:00.78 1:00.68
100 Back 53.21 53.20 52.97
1650 Free 16:19.32 16:20.32 16:17.36
200 Back 1:54.79 1:55.19 1:54.63
100 Free 49.00 48.82 48.88
200 Breast 2:11.44 2:11.22 2:11.23
200 Fly 1:57.49 1:56.79 1:56.92

2009 40th Fastest Women’s Time Of Year Prior To NCAA’s (For Comparison)

  • 500 Free – 4:43.30
  • 200 IM – 1:58.56
  • 50 Free – 22.48
  • 400 IM – 4:13.38
  • 100 Fly – 52.96
  • 200 Free – 1:46.19
  • 100 Breast – 1:01.12
  • 100 Back – 53.48
  • 1650 Free – 16:21.77
  • 200 Back – 1:55.45
  • 100 Free – 48.98
  • 200 Breast – 2:12.38
  • 200 Fly – 1:56.97

*Red font denotes slower than year before
**Red font from 2009 denotes slower than 2014-15

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13 Comments on "NCAA DI Championships Analysis: Comparing The Cutoff Times Over The Last Few Years, Updated To Include 2009"

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That men’s 100 breast invited time is bananas. 52 to make it in. Unreal.

It would be interesting to see how these times compare to 2009 when the suits were in play…

I can only really speak to the 200 fly because that was my event and I was in college at that time, but I remember 2009 being an anomaly in that it took a high 1:43 when previous years it was closer to 1:45.0

After that in 2010 and 2011 it went back to 1:45ish and started dipping down into the 1:44s. So based on that event it looks like we are back to about the same place (1:43.74 this year)

Another thing to consider is the cut line used to be between 19-22 whereas now they are making the cut at 30ish. So not only are we taking more people, but it’s still consistently faster.

I think I was ranked right around 31 in 2007 with a 1:46.5. Of course, back then they only took about 20 swimmers per event.

I’m not sure which is more mind blowing….52.9 100 breast or 1:41.9 200 back. Both are absurdly fast just to make the meet.

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About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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