The Best December Swimming Weekend…Ever (a Review and Historical Reference)

The weekend of Thursday December 1st, 2011 through Sunday, December 4th was one of the fastest December swimming weekends that we’ve ever seen in the United States. There was so much strong swimming, that it is easy to get bogged down in the mire of how deep the performances when, so let’s take a recap of all that went down, as well as crunch a few numbers for historical perspective. (Swim geeks, make sure you read all the way to the end).

Click the links to read the full stories.

Freshman Phenoms

National Age Group Records

A total of 6 National Age Group records went down this past weekend. In addition to Cordes’ two, mentioned above:

Hosszu, Trojans Tear up Texas

Arizona Awesome in Austin Too (with a nod to Michigan)

Leverenz Rocks Winter Nationals 200 IM

Coughlin Throws-Back to Yards at Georgia Invite
Swede Swims Textile Best in Netherlands
  • At the 2011 Dutch Open, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom shocked everyone (including herself) to cut a second off of her lifetime best in the 100 free with a 53.05. That’s the fastest time in the world this year, a Swedish Record, and a new worldwide textile best.
Very Worthy Hall of Fame Inductions
  • Along with all of the swimming at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational, Eddie Reese and Josh Davis were both inducted into the state of Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame for their exploits with the Longhorns. Can’t think of any two who deserve the honor more.

NCAA “A” Cuts Year-Over-Year

Starting broadly, to this point in the NCAA season, we’ve seen 59 NCAA automatic qualifying times (22 men and 37 women). Through the fall semester in 2010, there were only 36 such cuts (10 men and 26 women), which means an overall 63% cuts before the break.

And it’s not just the top swimmers – NCAA “B” cuts are way up as well.

The question is – why the uptick? I’ve got a few different theories. My first is that this year’s NCAA field is simply stronger than last years. If you look across events, the majority of them were dominated by underclassmen last year, and it’s those cream-of-the-crop swimmers who are responsible for these A-cuts. There are a few exceptions (women’s 100 fly, men’s 200 free), but those events seem to fit the theory, as they have 0 and 1 of the 59 A-cuts, respectively. Many events (men’s backstrokes, for example) didn’t have any seniors in the A-Final at NCAA’s last year.

There may also be an Olympic year effect in play. Swimmers have extra motivation to swim fast in an Olympic year (even though most college swimmers aren’t going to make the Olympic team, especially on the men’s side). For those who are earning A-cuts, the increase is almost enough to wonder if coaches have changed their strategies a bit this season – give a little extra rest now, less rest for NCAA’s, and prepare for Trials or the Olympics. You’d be hard-pressed to get any of them to admit to it, though.

Some of it is specific cases. With Arizona, for example, this meet was a good opportunity for Eric Hansen to set a tone for the rest of the season. With Frank Busch, it was easy for the swimmers to put full trust in him, but any time there’s a new coach, there’s some wariness from kids who committed to the “other guy”. A little extra taper in the fall will go a long way towards earning himself the full confidence of his team.

But ultimately, it wasn’t just so many people that cracked a certain standard. It was how incredibly far those top times were better than last year’s. Off the top of my head, there were 5 times swum in Austin that would have won NCAA’s last year (3 from Hosszu, 1 from Chitwood, 1 from Thompson). There were a ton of school records broken across the country – both at the legendary, huge programs some upstarts, and everywhere inbetween. Several unofficial “winter invite records,” “freshman records,”

What’s Up Next

Though FINA has already handed-out their World Swimmer of the Year honors (to Missy Franklin and Ryan Lochte), there’s still more to come in this action-packed December. Watch out for next weekend’s European Championships in Poland and the Duel in the Pool the weekend after back in Atlanta.

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Agreed!!! (enough said)

bobo gigi

Yes it was a great swimming weekend. And you are right when you say the NCAA field is stronger than last years. But imagine in the next years with all the stars, most of them on the women’s side, who will join NCAA it will be explosive.

bobo gigi

And the next weekend will be great with USA short course junior nationals, the Tom Dolan Invitational and short course european championships. Braden keep the rythm.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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