Indiana University recently published their roster for the 2023-24 college swimming season. Among the new names we expected, such as Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, who has been training at IU since last year, and 5th Year transfer Billy Cruz, there was a swimmer we didn’t expect to see.
Singaporean Mikkel Lee, 20, is listed on Indiana’s roster as a freshman for this season. Lee represents a huge addition to the Indiana roster, bringing a ton of high-level international meet experience with him to Bloomington. He’s represented Team Singapore at the 2019, 2022, and 2023 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, as well as the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and 2022 and 2023 World Championships.
Lee is a fantastic sprinter, especially for someone just entering the NCAA. Here is a look at his lifetime bests:
- 50 Free (LCM) – 22.36
- 100 Free (LCM) – 49.10
- 50 Fly (LCM) – 23.42
At the 2023 Singapore National Championships (LCM) in June, Lee won gold medals in the 50 fly, 100 free, and 50 back. In May of this year, he won his first gold medal at a senior international meet, winning the men’s 50 fly and helping Singapore’s team to victory in the men’s 4×100 free relay at the 2023 SEA Games.
Lee went on to compete for Singapore at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka. He swam the 50 fly, also competing on Singapore’s men’s 4×100 free relay and mixed 4×100 free relay. At Worlds, he swam a 23.73 in the 50 fly to tie for 30th in prelims.
Lee is a big gain for the Indiana sprint group, which lost their fastest 50 freestyler from last season in Van Mathias (18.89). Not only does Lee come in with potentially NCAA scoring speed in the 50 free, but Indiana also picked up a Fifth Year transfer in Billy Cruz, who has a personal best of 19.10 in the yards 50 free. That means that not only should the Hoosiers be able to adequately replace Mathias, gaining both Lee and Cruz could open the door for IU’s sprint group being even better this season than last.
The story is similar in the 100 free, where Mathias was also the top Hoosier last year by a wide margin, clocking a season best of 41.33. That may prove trickier to fully replace, however, we’ve never seen Lee race yards before, which makes it difficult to project times for him.
Lee’s 50 fly speed is also intriguing. It doesn’t appear that he races the 100 fly very often, but given his speed in the 50 fly, that could easily change as he continues training at Indiana. Regardless, there’s no individual 50 fly in the NCAA format, so Lee will need a 3rd individual event for his schedule, which at least right now seems most likely to be the 100 fly.
The addition of Lee also opens up more options for Indiana’s medley relays. Between Lee and senior Tomer Frankel being available for fly, Indiana should feel very comfortable keeping Fifth Year Brendan Burns as the backstroker on their medley relays, which is great for them, because Burns is arguably the fastest backstroker in the NCAA currently.
We’ve already mentioned 3 of them in Lee, Cruz, and Hafnaoui, however, they’re just a small part of the truly massive incoming class for Indiana. The Hoosiers have a whopping 15 new swimmers on the roster this season, 14 of which are freshmen. Cruz, of course, is the only newcomer who isn’t a freshman.
Here is the list of the 15 new Indiana swimmers who were not on the IU roster last year:
- Billy Cruz (Fifth Year transfer from USC)
- Ryder Androsky (Freshman)
- Toby Barnett (Freshman)
- Lucas Byrd (Freshman)
- Max Cahill (Freshman)
- Vidar Carlbaum (Freshman)
- Ahmed Hafnaoui (Freshman)
- Mikkel Lee (Freshman)
- Max Lestina (Freshman)
- Utkarsh Patil (Freshman)
- Leo Pelaez (Freshman)
- Dylan Smiley (Freshman)
- Elliot Weisel (Freshman)
- Benson Wang (Freshman)
- Honza Zika (Freshman)