SwimSwam Pulse: 45% Would Take Minakov Over Sates, Marchand At NCAAs

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, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which freshman they’d select to have on their team come NCAAs:

Question: Factoring in relay ability, which international freshman would you rather have on your team this year at NCAAs?


It’s not every season we have three freshman swimmers entering their first NCAA Championship meet having already found success on the senior international stage.

Stanford’s Andrei Minakov and Arizona State’s Leon Marchand have already made a significant impact during the first four months of their collegiate careers, and Georgia’s Matt Sates is the latest to enter the fold after arriving from South Africa last week.

All three project to be big-time scorers at NCAAs come March, but who would you rather have on your team?

Minakov, who will turn 20 a few days before NCAAs, came out on top of the poll with over 45 percent of votes, with his relay abilities no doubt factoring into it him leading the way.

The Russian native is expected to race the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly individually at NCAAs, all events that carry over to the relays. Minakov currently ranks fifth in the nation in the 50 free (19.13), second in the 100 free (41.69) and second in the 100 fly (44.78).

In addition those big individual points, he’ll also provide a huge boost to the Cardinal in four of the five relays, presumably the 200 and 400 free and medleys (though he did go 1:34.79 int he 200 free last weekend). He notably split 19.82 on a 50 fly leg on the 200 medley relay at the NC State Invite.

Sates, the most unknown commodity among the three, at least in the yards pool, took second in the poll with just over 34 percent of votes.

The 18-year-old set new World Junior Records in the SCM pool in October on the FINA World Cup circuit, clocking 1:40.65 in the 200 free, 3:37.92 in the 400 free and 1:51.45 in the 200 IM.

All three conversions project him to be a top-three finisher at NCAAs, though the 500 free and 200 IM coincide on the schedule, so he may end up swimming something like the 100 free on the final day.

Sates’ meters best times convert to 19.75 in the 50 free and 42.46 in the 100 free, which should both provide strong relay value if we factor in tapers and takeovers, which likely tipped the scales in his favor over Marchand.

Marchand, an Olympic finalist in the 400 IM last summer for France, is on a collision course with Texas’ Carson Foster come NCAAs in the 200 and 400 IM, with Marchand leading this season’s rankings in both races with respective times of 1:40.80 and 3:35.62. The ASU swimmer is also a title challenger in the 200 fly, and figures to score over 50 points individually.

Marchand split 1:32-mid on the 800 free relay at the NC State Invite in November, and was 1:33.2 flat-start two weeks ago at the ASU intrasquad. So he’ll provide some relay value for the Sun Devils there, but isn’t the speedster that Minakov is in the sprints, which would explain why Marchand fell to third in the poll despite having a clear shot to win three races individually.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which superstar would win if they raced a long course 800 free?

Who would win in an 800 freestyle (LCM) race?

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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3 months ago

I’d take any of them

JP input is too short
3 months ago

I mean, it makes sense. Minakov is an appreciably better piece in 4 relays. Sates has the leg up on both in the 200. Marchand’s strength is in his versatility – he might be the guy you take if you have no idea who your other guys are going to be and have to build a set of relays from a random selection of guys. Like, if you end up with nothing of one stroke, he’d fill in there.

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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