Olympic Drain Returns: 16 of 26 NCAA Invite Times Get Slower In 2020

The slowest times invited to the 2020 NCAA Championships actually got slower in a majority of events than their counterparts from the 2019 NCAA invite list.

That’s even more dramatic than the small rise in invite times during the 2016 Olympic year. It also mirrors a statistical analysis we published during the regular season. You can see that projection here.

The NCAA invites a set number of total athletes to its championship meet each year, and depending on how many athletes rank highly in multiple events, the ‘cut-line’ typically falls between 35th and 40th in each event for women and between 27th and 32nd or so in each event for men.

We track the times that qualify each year in those places, informally known as “NCAA invite times.” Those invite times get faster each year like clockwork, and occasions where the cut times get slower year-to-year are rare. But with the Olympic year bringing a high number of gap years, redshirts and freshman deferrals, the NCAA‘s depth took a major hit this season, as evidenced by the changes in invite times.

Note: the 2020 NCAA meet was canceled due to the 2019 novel coronavirus and the associated COVID-19 illness. But while that is forcing a lot of asterisks on 2020 NCAA analysis, this is not one of those cases – invite times are determined by regular-season swimming and finalized before the NCAA meet happens, so no one saving tapers could affect this year’s numbers compared to previous seasons.

2020 NCAA Invite Times

Invite times in 8 of 13 events got slower in 2020 for both men and women. One time stayed exactly the same as 2019, leaving just nine events where the 2020 invite time was faster than the 2019 invite time.

Faster in 2020
Event 2019 Invite 2020 Invite
W 50 free 22.23 22.21
W 100 free 48.56 48.51
W 200 back 1:54.01 1:53.99
W 200 fly 1:56.18 1:56.06
M 50 free 19.35 19.32
M 200 free 1:34.21 1:34.07
M 100 breast 52.52 52.46
M 200 breast 1:54.04 1:54.03
M 200 IM 1:43.82 1:43.79
The Same in 2020
Event 2019 Invite 2020 Invite
W 100 fly 52.34 52.34
Slower in 2020
Event 2019 Invite 2020 Invite
W 200 free 1:45.12 1:45.23
W 500 free 4:40.96 4:41.20
W 1650 free 16:14.21 16:17.45
W 100 back 52.46 52.73
W 100 breast 59.93 59.98
W 200 breast 2:09.77 2:10.12
W 200 IM 1:56.76 1:57.31
W 400 IM 4:10.00 4:10.39
M 100 free 42.53 42.57
M 500 free 4:16.04 4:16.49
M 1650 free 14:54.05 14:57.07
M 100 back 46.06 46.22
M 200 back 1:41.31 1:41.49
M 100 fly 45.90 45.97
M 200 fly 1:42.35 1:43.18
M 400 IM 3:43.42 3:44.36

Historical Invite Times

Women:

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
50 Free 22.21 22.23 22.30 22.23 22.32 22.40 22.40 22.45
100 Free 48.51 48.56 48.53 48.62 48.77 48.89 48.82 49.00
200 Free 1:45.23 1:45.12 1:44.90 1:45.44 1:45.93 1:45.95 1:46.03 1:46.10
500 Free 4:41.20 4:40.96 4:40.57 4:41.84 4:42.52 4:43.01 4:42.79 4:42.90
1650 Free 16:17.45 16:14.21 16:12.90 16:16.41 16:17.89 16:17.36 16:20.32 16:19.32
100 Back 52.73 52.46 52.54 52.65 52.93 52.97 53.20 53.21
200 Back 1:53.99 1:54.01 1:53.64 1:54.00 1:54.47 1:54.66 1:55.19 1:54.79
100 Breast 59.98 59.93 1:00.11 1:00.34 1:00.66 1:00.74 1:00.78 1:00.72
200 Breast 2:10.12 2:09.77 2:10.14 2:10.55 2:10.89 2:11.23 2:11.22 2:11.44
100 Fly 52.34 52.34 52.41 52.52 52.77 52.79 52.92 52.99
200 Fly 1:56.06 1:56.18 1:55.99 1:56.60 1:57.02 1:56.97 1:56.79 1:57.59
200 IM 1:57.31 1:56.76 1:56.76 1:57.66 1:57.90 1:58.13 1:58.13 1:58.51
400 IM 4:10.39 4:10.00 4:09.75 4:10.86 4:11.05 4:12.31 4:12.63 4:11.92

Men:

2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
50 Free 19.32 19.35 19.36 19.43 19.53 19.52 19.46 19.67
100 Free 42.57 42.53 42.71 42.76 43.05 42.94 42.98 43.14
200 Free 1:34.07 1:34.21 1:34.44 1:34.20 1:34.67 1:34.54 1:34.71 1:35.34
500 Free 4:16.49 4:16.04 4:16.08 4:16.67 4:17.73 4:17.15 4:18.31 4:18.70
1650 Free 14:57.07 14:54.05 14:53.34 14:56.84 15:00.11 14:59.20 15:03.42 15:03.07
100 Back 46.22 46.06 46.14 46.28 46.51 46.46 46.57 46.95
200 Back 1:41.49 1:41.31 1:41.18 1:41.74 1:41.92 1:42.04 1:42.41 1:43.03
100 Breast 52.46 52.52 52.75 52.62 52.92 52.97 53.23 53.37
200 Breast 1:54.03 1:54.04 1:54.49 1:54.54 1:55.31 1:55.04 1:55.64 1:55.97
100 Fly 45.97 45.90 45.89 46.10 46.46 46.38 46.56 46.74
200 Fly 1:43.18 1:42.35 1:42.52 1:43.09 1:43.65 1:43.74 1:43.81 1:44.74
200 IM 1:43.79 1:43.82 1:44.03 1:44.34 1:44.41 1:44.58 1:44.71 1:45.08
400 IM 3:44.36 3:43.42 3:43.89 3:44.92 3:45.33 3:45.34 3:45.64 3:46.72

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Dan Wohl
7 months ago

Isn’t this data severely skewed because not everyone was able to have their conference championships?

Admin
Reply to  Dan Wohl
7 months ago

No conference championship meets were cancelled, only national championship meets.

Lane 8
7 months ago

I’m thinking about the swimmers who were mostly untapered for conference meets just to focus on NCAA’s. It’s so sad thinking about how so many swimmers might have just been saving up for NCAA’s…

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
Reply to  Lane 8
7 months ago

there would have been almost no swimmers who were “mostly untapered for conference meets”. The only team that appeared to be in that position was Texas.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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