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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7 years ago

What is the schedule of events for the 2016 Championships? Anyone? I can’t find this information published anywhere. Thanks!

7 years ago

So the new schedule looks like this?

W D1: 800 FR
T D2: 200 FR, 500, 200 IM, 50, 400MR
F D3: 400 IM, 100 Fl, 200 fr, 100 br, 100 ba, 200 MR,
S D4: 1650, 200 ba, 100 fr, 200 br, 200 fly, 400 FR

Joel Lin
7 years ago

Ok, as long as they don’t add 3 more diving events I’m all good with this.

Wednesday start?
7 years ago

So the meet runs from the 16th to the 19th; not the 17th to the 19th as stated in the article?

7 years ago

I think the best changes are the start times….much better for the athletes.

7 years ago

Good change.

Now move the 200 medley relay from Friday to Thursday and the 400 medley relay from Thursday to Friday so that coaches can pick their team’s 400 medley relay line-ups based on their swimmers individual times in the 100s of backstroke-breaststroke-butterfly on Friday instead of making a “best guess” on Thursday. The 200 medley relay selections are a “best guess” either way/day.

This would mean that specialty stroke swimmers must go multiple 100s on Friday (individual events plus the relay) but that’s what sprint freestyle swimmers must do on Saturday with the individual 100 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relay.

If the 400 medley relay got flipped to Friday, switch the event order for that day to… Read more »

Kirk Nelson
7 years ago

With this change can inclusion of the 100 IM be far off?

get it done
Reply to  Kirk Nelson
7 years ago

It would be great to add the 1000 free as D IIs did and up the value of a distance swimmer. An extra session could really make things exciting

Joel Lin
7 years ago

I see the point then on it just being a Wed nite session with one relay. That makes sense appreciating that point. I’d hope this doesn’t push travel to Monday for some teams, as a full week out of school is rough. Doesn’t sound like that is going to be the case.

Reply to  Joel Lin
7 years ago

Depending on the time zone, many go on Monday already (or even Sunday). I don’t think missing more school is really an issue for most swimmers. They don’t get concerned with basketball missing a lot of school or baseball or softball, so they can’t really be concerned with another day for swimmers…..their grades are much better than the average athlete.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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