New NCAA Selection Process Will Make For “Better Meet With Better Swimmers”

The NCAA has approved new selection criteria for the 2013 championships, the details of which will be released later this week. SwimSwam spoke with CSCAA consultant Bob Groseth, who described the changes as ones that would, “make the meet better, bring in more teams, and get more people in the meet.”

Instead of inviting individuals and relays as they have done in the past, the NCAA only will select from individual events. This means that they’ll be able to increase the number of people they invite in each event, from around 17 /18 to 30/31 in the men’s events and from just over 30 to more like 38 on the women’s side. As in the past, individuals invited to the meet may swim other events if they have B cuts.

In order for a team to qualify a relay, that relay must have an A cut and the team needs at least one individual swimmer invited to the meet in order to bring three additional swimmers to field the relay. Relay swimmers can only swim relays, which according to Groseth is something they’ve been “trying to work out with the NCAA for probably 20 years.”

Because the NCAA’s expanding the individual field, the burden will fall on the individual institution to pay for the relay-only swimmers it brings to the meet. The new rules also mean that teams cannot qualify for NCAAs with a relay alone. Once teams have one relay there, they can swim their B cut relays as well. Teams with four individuals invited but no A cut relays can also enter relays with B cuts.

Groseth, who worked heavily on the proposal with Notre Dame’s Matt Tallman, said they were searching for the best way to have the best meet at NCAAs. “The best way to have the best meet is to have the best swimmers there,” he explained. “And the best way to have the best swimmers there is to select from individual events.”

In the past, capping the individual events to leave room for relays meant that some swimmers were left out of the meet while others who may not have been as fast qualified on relays and got to compete in the individual events. Expanding the individual event field will pull in some from each category.

Groseth says the changes were spurred in part by the men’s meet going down to 17 individuals in 2012. “Last year there were four individuals that were ranked 15th going into last chance meets that didn’t get to go,” he said. “That’s still going to happen but instead of 15th place it’s going to be 30th or 31st, which makes a big difference.”

So what sort of changes can we expect to see this year? “It will be more competitive, especially in the relays,” Groseth says. “Probably the most important change is more teams will be represented. Especially on the men’s side–you’re going to bring in at least five or six and up to 10 teams.”

The automatic and provisional cuts will be based on the times that qualified 16th and 24th for the meet the past three years. That means that the time standards for 2013 NCAA Championships will be a bit softer than in recent years. According to our calculations, they’ll look something like this:


200 Free 1:29.93 1:31.06
400 Free 3:17.40 3:19.85
800 Free 7:07.89 7:13.57
200 Medley 1:38.57 1:39.87
400 Medley 3:35.57 3:37.83


200 Free 1:18.60 1:19.29
400 Free 2:54.09 2:55.97
800 Free 6:25.92 6:29.19
200 Medley 1:26.38 1:27.48
400 Medley 3:11.25 3:12.90


Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennydwilson

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

I am new to the college swiiming seen so please correct me when I inevitably make an errant comment and I will not take it personally.

The official psych list came out and I have some questions. They show top 39 who I am assuming are definetly swimming that event. But then there is a serrated line w “invited” underneath. Are these swimmers below the top 39 definetly swimming the event?

And how do they determine the invitees..

I understand that Giving all the relay swimmers automatic spots if they have a b cut was problematic, and should be eliminated. But, why do they get penalized? Why don’t the fastest swimmers in each event (that are at the meet… Read more »

Reply to  Todd
8 years ago

Todd – try reading this and see if it answers your first few questions:

9 years ago

I’ve finally digested the new rules and find them much simpler and more importantly much fairer than the recent past! Finally the NCAA has come up with a logical, lucid thought process and made the correct changes.

More individuals, representing more teams will be invited. 30-32 for men up from the horrid 17 in 2012. The relays will still be fine based on the number of invited individuuals with the addtion of “relay only” swimmers invited. No more teams that can field a qualifying relay but have no individual qualified swimmers, like Purdue men in 2012! And no more relay swimmers clogging up individual events, who were not faster in pre-NCAA meet qualifying than individuals left out of the meet.

10 years ago

As mentioned in an above reply, my interpretation was that there would still be A and B cuts. A cuts would still guarantee automatic entry; it’s just that the selection process for those with B cuts would change and be much less tenuous.

10 years ago

I don’t coach at the NCAA level, and never made the NCAA D1 A or B individual cut times so never actually swam at the meet, but I find that this whole process, past, and proposal for the future, to be more complex than it needs to be. I have no issue with A Cuts and then having B cuts to fill up the designated # of lanes NCAA wants to fill, but once you start adding an A cut swimmer is allowed to swim B cut times, AND limit the # of entries for that 2nd race the swimmer is in, THAT’S when you start cutting people out of the meet.

Here’s my example: Let’s say NCAA wants to… Read more »

Reply to  jim
10 years ago

I may be wrong, but how I read the article, there would not be any standards for individual events. The only “A” and “B” standards will be in the relay events only.

10 years ago

Ok someone explain this to me….Chris help me out here –

So Individuals who qualify can swim their “B” cuts, but “relay only swimmers” cannot swim “B” cuts? What is the point of that? Why?

1. If they are NOT taking up 235 individual spots
2. And the NCAA is NOT paying for them
3. And they DO count towards the 18 person limit,

Why not let them swim “B” events? Are we worried about the meet lasting too long? What about only “B” events in 400 / under races, as in some USA Swimming club meets that do not allow “Bonus swims” in the 800/1500?

Reply to  DutchWomen
10 years ago

Chris is being disingenuous. Go to his blog at for May 29 to see the original discussion.

Chris DeSantis
Reply to  swimlong
10 years ago

What do you mean by disingenuous? Am I sayinlg something I didn’t say in the original conversation that you link to. Here is the link to the specific blog:

Reply to  Chris DeSantis
10 years ago

No, I just thought that I would credit you by linking to your discussion, as you had not mentioned it specifically. Forums are so touchy!

Chris DeSantis
Reply to  DutchWomen
10 years ago

I think the sentiment is that once you have selected for individuals only, theoretically going out to 30 places, you have a representative competitive field for the event. Letting someone who went, for instance, the 45th best time swim in the event when they didn’t actually qualify for it doesn’t make much sense. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and 30 people is a really reasonable number of people to let compete in an event that scores 16.

Reply to  Chris DeSantis
10 years ago

But Chris, if that is the case, why let individual qualifiers swim their “B” cuts then? Theoretically you COULD have a qualifier who is slower than a relay only swimmer swimming an event the relay only swimmer wasn’t allowed to swim.

Example –

Person “A” qualifies in the 50 free and has a “B” cut in the 100 free. Person “A” swims the 50 free and the 100 free. Person “B” qualified as part of a 400 free relay and who has a “B” cut in the 100 free that is faster than Person “A”‘s 100 free. The relay only swimmer cannot swim that “B” cut 100 free.

It just seems silly to not let a kid… Read more »

Matt Tallman
Reply to  DutchWomen
10 years ago

These changes allow for the most complete field of individuals and relays within the framework of change that the NCAA was willing to allow. With these changes, at least the top 16 relay institutions should be represented in each event which has not happened in quite some time. Depending on the selection of athletes by the institution’s coaches the actual relays will likely be there. The mission of the proposal was to see that those two objectives (top individuals and top relays) get accomplished. We will see in March if in fact that is the case. There is always potential for some example of unfortunate circumstance. It happens in every selection of NCAA participation for all of the sports; team… Read more »

10 years ago

The previous mentioned Stats are considering they take the top 30 now as the article suggested.

10 years ago

I’m not a fan of speculation. I love facts. FACT IS (and yes I just went thru both the Final psychsheet ( and the Entry List before cuts ( and came to the conclusion that 15 teams that were NOT invited, would have been under new rules.

They are the following:
USC Santa Barbra
West VA
Western Kentucky
Cal Bakersfield
Georgia Tech
Cleveland State

Take it for what you will….

10 years ago

So as I understand it, the number of swimmers per team stays at 18? This is not much of an issue, as generally only Cal, Stanford, and Texas overqualify swimmers. However it does mean that these teams might have to taper some swimmers a bit more at conference meets as they will not be able to make it on as relay only then save the taper for NCAAs. Of course, with the cutoff around 30, it won’t take that much.
It seems that the swimmers who will be missing out are those on midlevel relays, e.g. Iowa and Purdue, that don’t have four really fast guys but instead maybe one qualifier and three contributors that just manage to combine… Read more »