NCAA Relay Speculation: Top Teams To Make Crucial Changes In 400 Free


With the team race the closest it’s been in recent memory, we can’t discount the fact it could easily come down to the final event of the night, the 400 free relay. If we score the prelim results as if they were finals, not including either platform diving or the upcoming 1650, Indiana edges Texas by one point. Cal is 21.5 back without any diving points, but do have some likely to score in the 1650.

However things shake out prior to the relay, it’s going to be important. The top five teams in the scoring race placed in the top five positions in this morning’s relay prelims, led by NC State who established a new NCAA and American Record in a time of 2:44.75. Indiana, Texas, Florida and Cal were all 2:47-something for 2nd through 5th, with USC, Alabama and Auburn rounding out the A-finalists.

Below, check out the potential lineup adjustments teams could make heading into the final:

1. NC State (2:44.75)

  • After going the fastest time in history this morning, NC State looks like they still have room for improvement. Ryan HeldJacob Molacek and Justin Ress all swam lights out this morning, and they’ll almost certainly sub-in Coleman Stewart for Mark McLaughlin (42.25) tonight. Stewart has been swimming well here, posting a pair of 18.9 splits on the 200 free relay, winning the 100 back, and winning the consolation heat of the 100 fly. He split 41.66 at ACCs, as NC State will likely challenge the 2:44 barrier tonight.

2. Indiana (2:47.11)

  • After essentially going all-in this morning, the Hoosiers don’t really have any moves to make. This isn’t one of their stronger relays, so they really stepped up and swam well to qualify 2nd overall. There is a chance they could use Vini Lanza tonight, but everyone was faster this morning than he split at Big Ten’s (42.56).

3. Texas (2:47.31)

  • The Longhorns will likely switch in Joseph Schooling for Jeff Newkirk (42.91) tonight. Schooling hasn’t had a good meet, including missing a second swim in the 200 fly this morning, but it’s his last college session and it would be a big surprise if Eddie left him off. Last year he was also left off the prelim relay before anchoring the Longhorns to the title in 41.02.
  • John Shebat (18.7 split in 200 free relay) and Austin Katz (1:32.2 in the 800 free relay) are also potential options here, but very unlikely considering they both have the 200 back final.

4. Florida (2:47.52)

  • The Gators will likely substitute in both Jan Switkowski and Mark Szaranek tonight, joining Khader Baqlah (42.20 lead-off) and Caeleb Dressel (no explanation needed). Switkowski has been dynamite this meet, and though Szaranek’s meet hasn’t been perfect, his overall performance has been good and was 18.9 and 19.0 anchoring the 200 free relay.

5. California (2:47.97)

6. USC (2:48.19)

7. Alabama (2:48.76)

8. Auburn (2:49.30)

  • The one move Auburn could make tonight is moving out Santiago Grassi (43.03) in exchange for Hugo Gonzalez, which is what they did at SECs. Gonzalez has had a really rough meet, and was only slightly faster (42.86) when he was in peak form at the conference championships, so they’ll likely field the same lineup. If Zach Apple can lead-off in 41-mid and Peter Holoda can split sub-41 like he did at SECs, they’ll be in the mix.

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4 years ago

I hopeTexas swims Schooling. Teams will be able to move up.

4 years ago

I am definitely rooting for Florida.
These are all obviously pretty optimistic:
Baqlah: 42.00 leadoff
Dressel: 39.0
Szaranek: 41.5
Switkowski: 41.5
Total: 2:44.0

Switkowski I think could maybe go .25 faster, obviously been swimming lights out this meet. Dressel I honestly don’t know if I’m being conservative or optimistic. Szaranek and Baqlah I think are capable of times listed, but wouldn’t surprise me if they were both about .25 slower.

4 years ago

NC State
My guess for top 3

4 years ago

Mark McGlaughlin’s best time was a 42.9, that too was a lights out swim. Didn’t swim at ACCs, currently an American record holder..

muddy canary
Reply to  coacherik
4 years ago

Didn’t he swim in some other meet around the time of ACC’s? Pretty sure he was 42.7 or so there. Either way still a great split and cool he is at NCAA.

EDT: COACHERIK was right, Mark went 42.9 at ECACC.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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