The Absurdity of a 200 Fly Swim-off

2024 SEC Swimming & Diving Championships

“Touching the wall after the final 50 feels like a reward until you have to use those same shoulder and lat muscles to climb out of the pool. After the race, you just feel relieved, and you float across the warm down pool like a noodle.”

Or so I’m told.

The 200 fly is a brutal race. It takes everything out of you. It’s bad enough to swim it twice in a day, but three times?

Five swimmers are vying for the opportunity to do just that at SEC Championships today.

In the women’s heats, three swimmers tied for 23rd place. Tennessee sophomore Kate McCarville, Arkansas sophomore Maddy Hartley, and Auburn fifth-year Averee Preble all went 1:58.97 in prelims and had to swim off for the last 2 spots in the C final. All three had gone best times in prelims: Hartley had dropped 1 second; McCarville, eight-tenths; and Preble, four-tenths.

McCarville led by a tenth at the 50, but Preble took over the lead at the 100 and led by .28. She increased her lead to .54 at the 150, and won with an impressive 1:57.94. McCarville took second place with 1:59.07. Hartley ended up with 2:00.66. She’ll be first alternate tonight.

In the men’s race, South Carolina fifth-year Rateb Hussein and LSU junior Gavin Rogers both finished in 24th place with 1:45.84. For Hussein, it was an improvement of 1.2 over his seed time. Rogers had dropped 2.4 seconds.

I ran into Hussein on deck, laughing about the absurdity of getting back in and doing it all again. He was hydrating, fueling, and having a great time. The attitude was infectious.

Then they were on the blocks.

Hussein led at the 50, 23.02 to 23.47. Rogers had the faster second 50, but Hussein still led at the 100, 49.92 to 50.12. Hussein kicked it up a notch on the 3rd 50 and pulled to a .3 lead at the turn. But Rogers turned on the turbocharger on the last 25 yards and powered home in 27.9 to win, 1:45.27 to 1:45.60. Both were faster than they’d been this morning, and only Rogers will swim it again tonight.



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2 months ago

Don’t they have the option to use another race? Does that not hold true in NCAA swimming? The rules don’t state in has to be the same event to settle a swim off.

Quinn Buck
2 months ago

Rateb has the most infectious laugh in the world

2 months ago

My son had to do this in the 200 breast at conference. He actually dropped time each time he swam it. Swimmers have perseverance !!!

Casey K.
2 months ago

Let’s face it , this makes the sport tougher and better. If you swim the 200 fly you’re already “all-in”, embrace the inner Spartan and see what happens. Don’t overthink or over-optimize, qualify as the fourth seed next time, or use the experience as fuel.

2 months ago

I wonder if the swimmer who wins the swim off still has a fast performance in the finals knowing that’s there 3rd time swimming the event.
Definitely requires a lot of endurance.

2 months ago

At 10 years old I tied with someone in the 200 freestyle for a C-final spot. My parents drove us up 8 hours to Buffalo for the weekend. I remember how little I wanted to race three 200s in the same day, so I dogged the swim-off and added about 20 seconds. It was a very quiet drive home, and I still hear the disappointment from my parents 15 years later.

Maturity certainly helps in the sport…

Reply to  RealSlimThomas
2 months ago

sounds like your parents suck a**

Reply to  RealSlimThomas
2 months ago

lmao was this for eastern summer lc zones

Tea rex
2 months ago

200 fly skins

James Beam
2 months ago

Maybe we should revert to rock papers scissors for swim-offs for the 2 fly, 5 free and 4 IM….

in all seriousoness, great article !

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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