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 swimmer they currently favor in the men’s 200 free NCAA final, should the matchup come to fruition:
Question: Who would you favor in an NCAA 200 free final?
The poll was inspired by the scorching 1:40.65 SCM 200 free performance from 18-year-old Matt Sates at the FINA World Cup in Berlin. Sates, a South African native, is committed to swim at the University of Georgia, and is expected to join the team later this season and be eligible to compete at SECs and NCAAs.
Given that Sates’ swim made him the sixth-fastest swimmer in history, and was only 1.28 seconds slower than what a suited Paul Biedermann did in 2009—the same guy that set the ridiculous 1:42.00 LCM world record just three months earlier— we wanted to gauge how fans rated Sates in a hypothetical NCAA showdown with Florida’s Kieran Smith and Texas’ Drew Kibler, who finished 1-2 in the national final last season.
The results show that SwimSwam readers still overwhelmingly favor Smith over both Sates and Kibler, with the defending NCAA champion receiving over 71 percent of votes.
Smith owns four of the seven-fastest swims ever in the SCY version of the event, including two of history’s five sub-1:30 performances, and is coming off a phenomenal summer where he broke 1:45 in the LCM 200 free and won an individual Olympic medal in the 400 free.
Kibler took a close second to Smith in the 2021 NCAA final, recording a personal best time of 1:30.39 to Smith’s 1:30.10, and has now been under 1:31 on five occasions.
Sates received almost three times as many votes as Kibler, earning just over 21 percent compared to Kibler’s 7.8.
While time conversions will vary on accuracy depending on numerous factors, Sates’ 1:40.6 swim converts to 1:30.6 in yards, which falls right in the thick of where Kibler typically was last season.
Smith remains the clear favorite, given his multiple sub-1:30 performances and the progress he made over the summer, but Sates will certainly be a factor once he gets his feet wet in the NCAA, and it’s easy to see him joining the elusive sub-1:30 club.
One swimmer that was admittedly overlooked in the poll is American and NCAA Record holder Dean Farris, who clocked 1:29.15 on the lead-off leg of Harvard’s 800 free relay at the 2019 NCAAs.
The entire Ivy League didn’t compete last season, so Farris wasn’t racing in the NCAA in 2020-21, but he’s back this year for the Crimson. However, it remains to be seen if he’ll race the 200 free at NCAAs.
Even in 2019, when he set the all-time record in the event, he opted to race the 100 back individually instead (which he won in what was the third, now the fourth-fastest swim ever).
Farris also dropped the 200 free at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in favor of the 100 back, so, at least as of now, it seems he’s leaning towards racing the latter again at NCAAs.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks: If USA Swimming’s Duel In The Pool were to come back, would you want to see Team USA take on Europe, Australia, or the world?
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.