Quiz: Can You Name Every School To Win An NCAA Relay Title?

Just 25 schools have ever won a women’s or men’s NCAA relay title at the Division I level – and only 13 have won a relay in the past decade.

We’ve compiled some data on NCAA relay champions – but first, we’re giving fans the opportunity to test their knowledge. Warning: if you want to take the quizzes, don’t scroll down yet, or you’ll find the answers in our story below.

All Division I NCAA Relay Winners

 

NCAA Relay Data

On the men’s side, the NCAA has historical data on relay champions going back to the year 1927, when only the 200 free relay was swum. In 1931, that was extended to the 400 free relay, and in 1957, the NCAA added a second relay: the 400 medley.

The 800 free relay joined the mix in 1966, but it took until 1989 for the 200-yard relays (free and medley) to join the program – or rejoin, in the case of the 200 free relay. That means the current five-relay format has been in place for 32 seasons, including the 2020 season, which ended without any official relay champions in the coronavirus pandemic.

The women’s side actually featured all five relays seven years earlier – all five relays were part of the women’s NCAA format from its inception in 1982.

Teams To Win

Just 11 teams have won women’s NCAA relay titles in Division I – that’s a surprising lack of parity when 190 NCAA relay titles have been given out since 1982. On the men’s side, 24 programs have won titles with 273 total relay titles given since 1927.

Women’s Winners (chronologically by first win)

  • Stanford
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • USC
  • Auburn
  • Georgia
  • SMU
  • Michigan
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Tennessee

Men’s Winners (chronologically by first win)

  • Michigan
  • Rutgers
  • Northwestern
  • Iowa
  • Yale
  • Michigan State
  • Ohio State
  • Indiana
  • USC
  • Harvard
  • Minnesota
  • Stanford
  • UCLA
  • Texas – Arlington
  • Tennessee
  • California
  • Auburn
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • SMU
  • Princeton
  • Arizona
  • Alabama
  • NC State

Women’s & Men’s Winners

Just ten programs have won both women’s and men’s relay titles:

  • Arizona
  • Auburn
  • California
  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • SMU
  • Stanford
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • USC

Winners By Event

Here’s a look at which programs have won each individual relay:

Women

200 Free Relay 400 Free Relay 800 Free Relay 200 Medley Relay 400 Medley Relay
Stanford Stanford Stanford Florida Florida
Texas Texas Florida Stanford Texas
Georgia Florida Texas Texas Stanford
Arizona Arizona USC Auburn Michigan
SMU Georgia SMU Georgia SMU
Florida Auburn Arizona Arizona Auburn
California California Georgia California Georgia
Tennessee USC Auburn Tennessee Arizona
California California
Tennessee

Men

200 Free Relay 400 Free Relay 800 Free Relay 200 Medley Relay 400 Medley Relay
Michigan Rutgers Indiana Princeton Michigan State
Rutgers Northwestern Stanford Texas Michigan
Texas Michigan Yale Stanford Yale
Stanford Iowa USC Arizona Indiana
Auburn Yale Auburn Tennessee Ohio State
California Michigan State Florida Auburn Minnesota
Florida Ohio State California California USC
USC Texas Michigan UCLA
Harvard Michigan Alabama Texas – Arlington
Stanford Arizona USC Stanford
Tennessee NC State Tennessee
Indiana California
Auburn Texas
Texas SMU
UCLA Florida
Florida Auburn
California Arizona
Arizona Northwestern
NC State

Some observations:

  • On the women’s side, six programs have won at least one title in all five relays: Stanford, Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, and Cal. On the men’s side, there’s even less parity, as only five programs have won at least once in all five relays: Michigan, Texas, Stanford, Auburn, and Cal.
  • For the men, the 400-yard relays have had the most parity, with 18 (400 medley relay) and 19 (400 free relay) different schools winning. But that probably owes to how much longer those relays have been around than the other three.
  • The relay with the least amount of parity is actually the very first relay to ever enter the NCAA lineup. Just 7 different men’s programs have won a 200 free relay title. That relay has been swum in 35 different NCAA Championships.
    • Michigan and Rutgers won that relay back in the 1920s, before it was discontinued. Since its re-addition to the program in 1989, only Stanford (9x), Auburn (9x), Texas (7x), California (5x), and Florida (1x) have won, and Florida only joined that list as recently as 2018, when a certain superstar named Caeleb Dressel outsplit all leadoff legs by 0.75 seconds and Florida won by 0.11.
  • Tennessee’s women have specialized in the sprints, winning the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay. USC’s women, on the other hand, have only won the 800 free relay and 400 free relay. SMU’s program has won the odd combination of the 200 free relay, 800 free relay, and 400 medley relay.

Leaders In Total Titles

Men:

Rank Team Total Year of first title Year of most recent title
1 Texas 50 1980 2019
2 Stanford 32 1967 2011
3 Auburn 29 1978 2014
4 California 28 1978 2019
5 Michigan 27 1927 2013
6 USC 23 1960 2018
7 Yale 12 1941 1968
8 Indiana 12 1960 2019
9 Florida 11 1979 2018
10 Arizona 11 1993 2013
11 Tennessee 8 1972 1996
12 Michigan State 5 1946 1962
13 Ohio State 4 1947 1962
14 NC State 4 2016 2018
15 Rutgers 3 1929 1933
16 UCLA 3 1967 1984
17 Northwestern 2 1932 2007
18 Princeton 2 1989 1990
19 Alabama 2 2016 2019
20 Iowa 1 1936 1936
21 Harvard 1 1961 1961
22 Minnesota 1 1963 1963
23 Texas – Arlington 1 1968 1968
24 SMU 1 1983 1983

Overall, the Texas men were actually relative latecomers to the national relay scene. The Longhorns didn’t win their first relay until 1980 – but they’ve made up lost time since then. (It’s certainly no coincidence that in 1978, a young hotshot by the name of Eddie Reese took over as head coach of the Texas men). In the 40 years since that first title, Texas has won an astounding 50 men’s relay titles, far outpacing any other NCAA program.

Stanford remains at #2, though they haven’t won an NCAA relay on the men’s side in almost a decade. Both Auburn and California seem to be closing the gap on #2 – in fact, Cal may have come close to tying Stanford had the 2020 NCAA Championships happened. The Golden Bears entered NCAAs ranked #1 nationally in both the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay.

Women:

Team Total titles Year of first title Year of most recent title
Stanford 60 1982 2019
Georgia 25 1995 2016
California 23 2000 2019
Arizona 22 1996 2010
Texas 21 1983 2001
Florida 20 1982 2010
Auburn 7 1994 2004
SMU 5 1995 1999
Tennessee 4 2013 2019
USC 2 1994 2016
Michigan 1 1995 1995

Stanford leads the women’s ranks by an even more dominating margin than the Texas men. Stanford has won almost a third of the 190 relay titles in women’s Division I NCAA history. That includes the first-ever sweep of all five relays in a single NCAA Championships, accomplished in 2018. Stanford has won 11 of the last 20 NCAA relays on the women’s side.

California is the late-comer among the women’s program. The Golden Bears didn’t win an NCAA title until the year 2000 – but have piled up 23 since then. They had a chance to catch Georgia at the canceled 2020 NCAA Championships as the defending champs in three different relays.

In the past decade

Over the last ten years, the lists are even shorter. Just 7 women’s programs have won a relay since 2010, and just 11 men’s programs.

Only three new programs joined the NCAA Champions list in the past decade. The Tennessee women broke through in 2013, winning not just their first NCAA relay, but their first three NCAA relays. They added one more in 2019 and had a chance to add to that list with a strong program in 2020.

For the men, 2016 saw two new teams win their first-ever relay title: Alabama (200 medley relay) and NC State (400 free relay). Alabama added a second title in the same event in 2019, while NC State has won four titles – all in the 400 or 800 free relays – since their 2016 breakthrough.

We were likely to see at least one new women’s program join the list in 2020, had the national championship meet not been canceled. Virginia was the favorite to win the women’s 200 medley relay – they’ve never won an NCAA relay for women or men before. And if Virginia didn’t pull it off, NC State (another would-be newcomer to the relay title list) was arguably the top challenger, sitting 3rd nationally behind Virginia and Michigan.

Relay Titles: 2010-2019

Women:

Team Titles This Decade
Stanford 20
California 15
Georgia 7
Tennessee 4
Arizona 2
USC 1
Florida 1

Men:

Team Titles This Decade
Texas 14
California 14
USC 5
NC State 4
Florida 3
Indiana 2
Alabama 2
Auburn 2
Arizona 2
Michigan 1
Stanford 1

Some Oddities

There are a few other fun facts we ran into while compiling all this data:

  • There has only been one tie for an NCAA relay title – and it was in the first 400 medley relay ever swum at the NCAA Division I Championships. In-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State tied for that win in 1957.
  • There was a short-lived phase where the NCAA swam in short course meters in Olympic years. That happened just twice: 2000 and 2004. The Georgia women can claim supremacy as the winningest NCAA team in short course meters relays: they won 5 titles across those two seasons. Auburn and Texas each won 4 men’s titles in those two seasons.
  • A number of former NCAA relay champions on the men’s side no longer have men’s programs. Rutgers was just the second school ever to win an NCAA relay, but cut their men’s program in 2006. UCLA won three relay titles in the ’60s and ’80s, but cut their team in 1994 – a little more than a decade after the Bruins won the 1982 overall national team title. UT-Arlington won a relay in 1968, but no longer sponsors a men’s program.
  • Only one men’s team has swept all five relays in the same NCAA Championships: Stanford in 1992. Texas has come close several times, winning 4 of 5 in 1989, 1990, 2001 and 2017. Auburn won 4 of 5 in 1997, 1999, and 2009, Stanford did it in 1995, Arizona in 2006, and Cal in 2010.
  • Of the Power-5 conferences, the ACC is the only conference without a women’s relay winner. Since NC State’s men’s win in 2016, all five Power-5 conferences feature a former NCAA relay title winner on the men’s side.

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tea rex
1 month ago

Rutgers men have 3 more relay wins than Georgia (0). Seriously?

Dmswim
Reply to  tea rex
1 month ago

Shouldn’t have cut that team…

Confused
1 month ago

8/11 and 16/24

200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
1 month ago

11/11 and 22/24
The men’s quiz takes some work to get beyond the OBVI choices.

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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