NCAA Will Expand Swimming to 4 Day National Championship Meet in 2016

The NCAA has approved a recommendation to expand the 2016 Division I Swimming & Diving Championship meet to 4 days, moving the 800 free relay to Wednesday evening.

Despite dates both on the NCAA website, and the websites of many college teams, still reflecting a three day meet, Mary Berdo, the Associate Director of Championships & Alliances for the NCAA confirmed the shift on Monday.

The recommendation put forward in April by the NCAA Divsion I Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committee via the text below. Unlike four-day conference championship meets, which have typically both the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay on the first day of competition, just the one race will be shifted. That means that Thursday at the NCAA Championships (The meet’s second day under the new format) will be the only day with two relays.

The day 2 burden resulted from more-and-more swimmers combining the 100 fly and 200 back as a day 2 schedule, and will now also prevent the country’s top 200 freestylers from having to potentially swim three 200 freestyles in the same day.

Another significant competitive impact is that now all swimmers will race the timed final event in the same session. The 800 is the only relay that is swum as a timed final, and under the old meet format, all but the two fastest seeded heats swam in the morning session.

Sources tell SwimSwam that the SEC proposed the change; they’re also the first major conference to expand their conference championship meet to a 5-day format.

Besides the change to a fourth day, the NCAA is shifting session start times to 10 A.M and 6 P.M. local time for prelims and finals, respectively. Previously, prelims started at 11 A.M. and finals at 7 P.M. The committee doesn’t anticipate any budget impact, because the pool is already reserved on Wednesday evenings and most teams have arrived by then.

This year’s NCAA Championship meets will both be held in Atlanta, Georgia, with the women’s meet from March 16th-19th and the men’s March 23rd-26th.

The NCAA’s Division II has a four day meet, though the format is different than the one that will be used in Division I. Specifically, Division II has 4 full days, not just 3 days + 1 timed final.

Read the full text of the recommendation below.

b. Championships Format Adjustment – 800 Free Relay and 200 Medley Relay.
(1) Recommendation. That effective with the 2016 Division I Men’s and Women’s
Swimming and Diving Championships, the 800 freestyle relay be moved from
the last event on Friday evening to a single event on Wednesday evening, and
that the 200 medley relay be shifted from the first event on Friday to the last
event that day.
(2) Effective Date. Immediately.
(3) Rationale. The recommended adjustments to the current format reduces the
length of the Friday sessions by as much as an hour and provides a similar
format to what is being used during conference championship meets.
Additionally, the format adjustment would complement the new morning
(10 a.m.) and evening (6 p.m.) start times that the committee will be
implementing in 2016. Currently, the facility is available for practice starting
on Tuesday and Wednesday with competition beginning on Thursday morning,
so teams would already be on site and would not incur additional expenses or
need to request additional NCAA travel per diem to accommodate shifting the
800 free relay. The recommendation also comes with stakeholder support, as
more than half of the respondents in a recent College Swimming Coaches of
America Association (CSCAA) survey favored the format adjustments.
(4) Estimated Budget Impact. None.
(5) Student-Athlete Impact. The adjustments provide a positive solution to
concerns from the coaching community about the overall length of the
competition day on Friday, and they provide competitors more rest and recovery
time throughout the week of competition.

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And here I was thinking they’d remove the 100 fly/100 back double 🙁 oh well. Removing 3 200 frees in one day is also a good thing.

Joel Lin

This seems like a bad trade off. Just moving one relay isn’t too material a change, and this has the effect of causing more student athletes to miss school. If the NCAA is going to 4 days, move some events into Wednesday or just keep it a three day meet.


Read the whole thing Joel Lin, most people travel on Tuesday as it is. All teams certainly are there by Wednesday, this doesn’t effect school at all. Not doing 3 x 200 freestyles and taking a ton of time off of the total amount of time at the pool on Friday is huge. Plus, that relay has potential to be much faster, everyone will be fresh for it.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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