SwimSwam Pulse: 45.4% Think Men’s 100 Breast Is Most Wide Open NCAA Event

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which race is the most up for grabs at the 2024 NCAA Championships:

Question: Which individual event do you think is the most wide open at NCAAs this season?


  • Men’s 100 breast – 45.4%
  • Women’s 1650 free – 23.3%
  • Men’s 200 fly – 10.8%
  • Women’s 200 back – 10.2%
  • Women’s 100 breast – 7.4%
  • Other – 2.8%

With the graduation of Max McHugh, the men’s 100 breaststroke has become the most wide-open event in the NCAA.

McHugh, a Minnesota Golden Gopher who exercised his fifth year of eligibility last season, won the event for the third straight time in March in his home pool, topping the field by six-tenths in 50.00.

For a 100-yard event, McHugh’s average margin of victory was relatively large over the last three seasons at 65 one-hundredths of a second, and he was the clear favorite each time out after he placed 3rd as a freshman in 2019.

But now, his departure opens the event up in a big way, not to mention that five of the seven other ‘A’ finalists in 2023 will also not be returning this season.

Runner-up Van Mathias, Dillon Hillis (5th) and Reece Whitley (7th) all used their fifth year of eligibility last season like McHugh, while Caspar Corbeau (4th) opted not to use his extra year and Derek Maas (8th) is using it in Division III while attending med school at NYU.

That leaves Louisville’s Denis Petrashov (3rd) and Cal’s Liam Bell (6th) as the lone returning ‘A’ finalists, while Florida’s Aleksas Savickas, Virginia’s Noah Nichols and Indiana’s Josh Matheny also return after breaking 51 seconds last season.

More than 45 percent of readers picked the event as the most wide open this season in our latest poll, which checks out given that SwimSwam writers named five different swimmers when picking the eventual NCAA champion in March.

Ranking second in the poll was the women’s 1650 free, where 2023 champion Kensey McMahon has moved on and Indiana’s Ching Hwee Gan and Wisconsin’s Paige McKenna come in as the top returners.

The men’s 200 fly and women’s 200 back both secured over 10 percent of votes.

In the 200 fly, many are penciling in freshman Ilya Kharun as the uncrowned champion despite the presence of last year’s winner Aiden Hayes and 2022 champ Brendan Burns.  In the 200 back, last season’s champion Claire Curzan isn’t competing, with Phoebe Bacon and Isabelle Stadden set for another battle and freshman Bella Sims potentially making an impact if she opts to swim it.

The women’s 100 breast was also included in the poll simply because of how close the top names are—Lydia Jacoby won last year, but Kaitlyn DoblerAnna Elendt and Mona McSharry are all right there. The event earned 7.4 percent of the vote.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which swimmer has the best odds of completing the 100/200 double in Paris?

Which swimmer currently dominating the World Cup has the best chance of winning the 100/200 double in Paris?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 month ago

Brian. Benzing.

Reply to  SwimFan
1 month ago

mid-majors typically don’t do too well with the power 5 guys at NCAAs unless your name is daddy dean farris

1 month ago

If Josh Matheny learns how to do a pullout and not take 47 strokes per length, it feels like it’s his race to lose

I don’t really trust Cal breaststrokers or Savickas

Reply to  Andrew
1 month ago

Andrew not trusting a Cal swimmer 😱🤯

Reply to  oxyswim
1 month ago

Why should I have any reason to trust a cal breaststroker? Their breaststroke group has been underwhelming the past few years and Durden has admitted he struggles with breaststrokers

Justin Pollard
Reply to  Andrew
1 month ago

Hard enough to learn one game-changing skill per year, let alone 2. Don’t think Matheny is gonna win this one.

Reply to  Justin Pollard
1 month ago

Let’s hope Bell can stay healthy for a full season

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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