SwimSwam Pulse: 66% Pick Ilya Kharun As Most Impressive NCAA Freshman This Season

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 who the most impressive first-year swimmer is in the NCAA so far this season:

Question: Which freshman has impressed you the most so far this season?


There have been several breakout freshman performances thus far in the NCAA season as we reach the midway point, but no one has made a bigger impression on the national rankings than Ilya Kharun.

The Arizona State first-year has lined up alongside his star-studded cast of teammates and emerged as one of the country’s best swimmers just months into his NCAA career, penciling himself in as a title contender in multiple events at season’s end.

In our most recent poll asking readers which freshman swimmer had been the most impressive so far this season, Kharun ran away with the victory with two-thirds of the votes, as he currently ranks first in the NCAA in the men’s 200 fly (1:38.11 altitude adjusted/1:39.10 non-adjusted) and second in the 100 fly (44.33), both ‘A’ cuts.

He’s also been dynamic in other events, including breaking 19 seconds in the 50 free (18.93), and has reeled off some sensational relay splits including 18.51 in the 50 free, 41.74 in the 100 free, 19.24 in the 50 fly and 43.35 in the 100 fly.

Taking second in the poll was Florida’s Bella Sims, who ranks atop the NCAA in both the women’s 500 free (4:32.53) and 400 IM (4:01.47)—both ‘A’ cuts—and also sits third in the 200 back (1:51.15) despite only racing the prelims of the event at the UGA Invite.

Beyond Kharun and Sims, both well-established names before college, some more unheralded swimmers also earned votes after strong starts to the campaign, led by USC’s Minna Abraham, who has been on fire in the women’s 200 free.

Abraham has lowered her PB multiple times, and led the NCAA at one point but now ranks #2 behind Gretchen Walsh (1:41.32) with her time of 1:41.38 from the Texas Invite.

Stanford’s Caroline Bricker has been on a tear, setting numerous best times and leading the NCAA in multiple events earlier in the season, and she currently sits fourth in the 400 IM (4:03.49) with an ‘A’ cut and is also fifth in the 200 breast (2:06.85).

On the men’s side, USC’s Krzysztof Chmielewski picked up some votes as he leads the nation in the 1650 free, just shy of an ‘A’ cut at 14:37.74, while Stanford’s Rex Maurer is also performing well in his debut campaign, currently sitting third in the 500 free (4:11.88) to go along with eighth in the 400 IM (3:41.27) and 12th in the 200 back (1:39.75).

Texas’ Will Modglin, Florida’s Jonny Marshall and NC State’s Quintin McCarty (redshirt freshman) are three other first-years who have picked up NCAA ‘A’ cuts but were not included in the poll (but probably should have), all in position to score some big points for their teams in March.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which male swimmer is most likely to reclaim the Rio Olympic title they lost in Tokyo:

Which 2016 gold medalist has the best chance to reclaim their Olympic title in Paris? (Men's edition)

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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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Old Swim Coach
2 months ago

Other than Kharun, Modglin gets my vote!

2 months ago

For the next poll: I don’t think any of them are going to win. I guess Kyle might have the best chance but I don’t see any of those four with a gold medal.

Reply to  Jimmyswim
2 months ago

Yes…Alexy, Pan, Charmers, Maxime Grosset, mat Richards, King..its anyone’s race..❤

2 months ago

When did he go 1:38.11?

Justin Pollard
Reply to  Alden
2 months ago

Apparently that’s an altitude converted time from ASU’s meet against Utah.

Alex Wilson
2 months ago

I suspect that we will some even more amazing things out Ilya Kharum in the next few months. He has excellent coaches at ASU and a great training environment where there are swimmers who can and do push him every day!

Wanna Sprite?
Reply to  Alex Wilson
2 months ago

Yeah they don’t have any early speed yet. They’re going to be insanely quick at NCAAs I like to think he drops a 43.29 and a 1:37.14

2 months ago

BOOO Caroline Bricker was the only unestablished/unheard of name

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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