Overreacting To The 2023 SEC & ACC Championships Day 1

Yanyan Li
by Yanyan Li 40

February 14th, 2023 ACC, College, National, News, SEC

After day one of the 2023 ACC and SEC championships, we are going to play the favorite game of SwimSwam commenters: jumping to massive, somewhat unrealistic, conclusions after a single day of racing. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Say Bye Bye To Dressel’s Records

Remember when Jordan Crooks went a 18.53 50 free at SECs as a freshman last year and some commenters tried to undermine his swim by saying BuT DrEsSeL iS FaStER aNd wEnT 17.63!?!??!?!?! Well, those comments aren’t going to age well, because Crooks is on track to becoming faster than Caeleb Dressel has ever been.

Tonight, Crooks dropped a 18.90 50 fly split on Tennessee’s 200 medley relay, becoming the first to go under 19 seconds in the 50 fly on a relay and being the fastest 50 flyer EVER by a margin of 0.47 seconds. He went out in a 8.28, which is faster than what Dressel went out in when he swam a 17.63 50 FREE (Dressel’s opening split was from a flat start, and to the feet, but we are just going to ignore that fact for the purposes of this article).  In addition, Crooks was nearly a second quicker than his previous best in the 50 fly, which was a 19.87 from midseasons. If Crooks drops the same amount of time in his individual swims this week, Dressel’s 17.63, 39.90, and 42.80 could be in danger.

Obviously, this is not how dropping time works and he’s probably not going to go a 17.2 50 free, but he’s going to throw down some head-turning swims either way.

Kate Douglass = GOAT

Watch out Aussies, because Kate Douglass is good at sprint freestyle and she’s going to give your top swimmers a run for their money. On UVA’s 200 medley relay that set the NCAA, US Open, and American record, Douglass split 20.49 to anchor, clocking the fourth-fastest 50 free relay split of all time. Now, since short course to long course conversions are always 100% accurate and never fail (what even are underwaters?), it’s important to note that Douglass’ split is faster than OLYMPIC CHAMPION Emma McKeon‘s long course best time of 23.81, which converts to a 20.79 in short course yards. Since SwimSwam commenters seem to have confidence in Douglass going 2:16 in a long course 200 breast, we should probably extrapolate her short course times in the 50 free too—will she be 23.5 in long course? Sub-23 maybe??????

On a more serious note, I’m curious if Douglass’s split will factor in her decision to swim the 50 free or 200 IM on day two. I still feel like there’s more momentum going in favor for the 200 IM, considering that she swam a 1:52.07 unsuited at a dual meet (faster than her 2021-22 season best) and also scared the short course meters world record in the event. However, she did drop her fastest 50 free splits ever by 0.05 seconds tonight, which might mean that she’ll drop time off a flat start too (which by default means breaking the NCAA record).

Is Jack Dahlgren The Real Deal?

You know what I was not expecting tonight? Missouri’s Jack Dahlgren dropping nearly a second from his best time of 1:32.01 to swim a 1:31.17 leading off the 800 free relay, setting the top time in the nation. Previously, he wasn’t really in the conversation for the 200 free NCAA title, as that conversation was dominated by names like Grant House, Luke Miller, Luke Hobson etc. But Dahlgren’s time would have been fast enough to finish fifth at NCAAs last year (and if he swam 0.02 seconds faster he would have been fast enough to finish third), and there’s a good shot that he’s on his way to the top.

What you want to take from Dahlgren’s swim really depends on how much you think he’s going to drop after this swim. Swim fans love to get overly excited and think of improvement as a never-ending upward trajectory—if he went 1:31.17 at conferences, he’s DEFINETLEY going to be 1:30 at NCAAs! But that’s often not the case with a ton of swimmers—they add from relay leadoffs to individual races, from conferences to NCAAs, etc. In Dahlgren’s situation, dropping time from SECs is plausible considering that he set personal bests in his two individuals at NCAAs last year, but sometimes a big swim like his relay leadoff from tonight can be hard to replicate.

Underdog Galore At Men’s ACCs

Watch out NC State, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Louisville, because the men’s side of ACCs has become an underdog world.

Exhibit A: Notre Dame. The fastest 50 free split was not from defending 50 free champ David Curtiss, August Lamb, or any of the big name ACC sprinters that you hear about all the time. It came from Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano, who split 18.47 to help his team finish fifth (*in the voice of Rowdy Gaines* he’s just a SOPHOMORE!). Another display of underdog power was shown via Pitt, as their relay of Krzytof Radiszewski (20.70), Cooper Van Der Laan (23.29), Marcin Goraj (20.06), and Flynn Crisci (19.04) combined for a time of 1:23.98 t0 finish fourth and break the team record, beating out ranked programs like Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. In fact, Radiszewski’s leadoff tied NCAA CHAMPION Kacper Stowkowski’s time as the fastest 50 back in the field. Now this right here is Chase Kreitler taking his Cal championship mindset over to Pittsburgh.

Will the trend of underdogs surprising top contenders continue throughout the meet, or is this just a one-event thing? We will have to see and find out.


The Florida Gators really made the SEC their swamp tonight, taking top two in all four relays contested tonight. Now let’s talk about the Florida women, who beat Tennessee (the favorites to win this meet) in both the 200 medley and 800 free relay. They swam a 1:34.76 in the 200 medley relay to finish second and crush the ‘A’ cut, which was a major improvement from last year, where they didn’t even qualify for NCAAs. Aris Runnels had a big 23.75 50 back leadoff, as she dropped nearly a second from her best time of 24.56 set THIS SEASON. The effects of transfer Nina Kucheran are also showing, as her 26.29 50 breast split was over a second faster than Tylor Mathieu‘s 27.74 split from last year. In addition, Florida also had three swimmers sub-1:44 in the 800 free relay that they dominated to win, combining for a time of 6:57.11 that’s also considerably faster than what they swam last year.

It’s clear that Florida has turned their program around in the last two years with new coaching and swimming additions, and the effects are beginning to show. Are they in the conversation to beat Tennessee at SECs, despite the depths of the Vols? After all, Tennessee does lose some of their big pieces from last year, such as Ellen Walshe, Summer Smith, and AJ Kutsch.

Another big thing to point out is Jake Mitchell‘s 1:31.45 anchor leg on the 800 free relay. His fastest split with Michigan was a 1:32.95, so clearly the Florida training is working for him.

All Sub-50 100 Fly Final???

After Kylee Alons split a 21.99 50 fly, the fifth-fastest split ever, her best time of 50.36 in the 100 fly that was set back in 2021 seems ripe to get destroyed—aka, she’s going to be the next swimmer sub-50 in the 100 fly. So far, we already have six swimmers in the NCAA sub-50 (Kate Douglass, Maggie MacNeil, Torri Huske, Claire Curzan, Emma Sticklen, and Gretchen Walsh) in the 100 fly, and if Alons gets there, that makes seven. That means we are close to having a full, eight-person heat of swimmers who will go 49-point or faster in the 100 fly. That’s an insane stat, considering that there have only been eleven women in the history of the NCAA who have gone sub-50.

With Walsh likely not swimming the 100 fly at NCAAs and people adding time, a sub-50 100 fly final is harder to achieve than it is seems on paper. But it’s not out of the question….

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3 months ago

this is the best type of commentary LOVE YOU YANYAN <3

3 months ago

Jordan crooks is not going to go 17.2, he is going to go 16.9

3 months ago

If we’re really dedicating this post to overreactions then we should probably talk about Emma Weyant’s mediocre split on the 800 free relay. I hope she’s “on” in her other swims this championship season.

3 months ago

Jack Dahlgren is a beast! Who knows what he will do with a home pool advantage as a MN native!

Mr Piano
Reply to  Jkoles
3 months ago

Dahlgren still owns the MN high school state record in the 200 free set at the U of M pool, so it would be poetic if he could somehow dig an NCAA title out of him.

3 months ago

I guess the fastest women’s 50 back ever didn’t warrant comment?

Reply to  Oldmanswimmer
3 months ago

This thread appears based in delusion – not anything serious LOL

3 months ago

Crooks is amazing and will beat 39.90. I just wish Dressel had set the record under more similar conditions. If Crooks gets it Saturday it will be in his 9th or 10th swim on the 5th day of a 5 day meet. Dressel went 39.90 in his 13th out of 14 swims on the 4th day of a 4 day meet. I can and will celebrate the greatness of Crooks, but I will also always wonder what Dressel would have gone if he wasn’t gassed.

Reply to  Willswim
3 months ago

Well he still has to beat 39.9

3 months ago

So everyone thought Dressel would be the one to take down Cielo’s LCM 50 free WR but turns out it’s going to be Kate Douglass

3 months ago

SEC womens 200 medley was 2.5 seconds slower than UVA’s relay! Not a good look for SEC women.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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