Texas Men Clock Fastest Midseason 200 Free Relay Ever at 1:15.49

by Robert Gibbs 0

December 04th, 2021 College, News, Previews & Recaps

2021 MINNESOTA INVITE

With a lot of swimming happening this weekend, we’re still sifting through results to see what may not have been readily apparently at the first.

As the third finals sessions of the Minnesota Invite wrapped up last night, it was clear that the Texas Longhorns men’s 200 free relay was really fast.

Splits:

We noted last night that was the fastest time in the nation so far this season, it was faster than Texas went at the 2021 NCAAs, and this time would’ve put them 3rd at NCAAs, behind Cal (1:14.36) and Florida (1:14.48).

It took a little more digging last night to put that performance into broader historical context. Namely, per the USA Swimming database, that appears to be the fastest swim ever at midseason, with all 31 performances that have been faster coming either at conference or NCAA championships in February or March.

But, do fast midseason times actually mean anything, or is this just an interesting factoid?

The previous fastest midseason time appears to belong to the Cal Bears, who went 1:15.73 at the UGA Fall Invitational in 2017. That squad knocked well over a second off of their time at 2018 NCAAs, clocking a 1:14.56. However, they ended up 3rd, just behind Florida (1:14.39) and NC State (1:14.50).

Last season, Cal won the 200 free relay title with a 1:14.36, the 3rd-fastest performance ever. However, they lost seniors Ryan Hoffer and Nate Biondi to graduation. Biondi split 19.06, which Cal can probably find someone to replicate, but Hoffer’s 18.06 will probably tougher to match.

Florida, meanwhile, returns all four legs from their 2nd-place, 1:14.48 effort, and on paper, probably still appears to be the favorite. NC State also has an intriguing sprint group that hasn’t done anything crazy yet this season, but could dazzle come March.

Still, Texas probably should be at least a bit faster come March. Auchinachie and Corbeau have been hitting lifetime bests the last few days, but Krueger and Kibler don’t quite seem to be fully rested, or otherwise primed for peak performance here. Krueger has a 50 free lifetime best of 19.04, and Kibler split 18.6 in this event at the 2019 NCAA Championships. Even matching those best times wouldn’t necessarily be enough to overcome Florida, but it could get them under 1:15.0.

All that to say — there’s certainly no guarantee that a fast midseason time will lead to a NCAA title in this event. But fast swimming is fun to watch at any point in the season. And, what we’ve seen over the last few days indicates that the Longhorns remain in the driver’s seat to defend their NCAA title, although Cal will certainly be there with them, setting up yet another epic clash between the two teams that dominated Division I swimming for the last decade

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