In American swimming, different programs tend to be hubs for certain types of swimmers. USC has great breaststrokers, SwimMAC has great sprinters, North Baltimore turns out great IM’ers. That’s no coincidence – athletes are attracted to train with the best, and those coaches have proven methods for turning out elite athletes in those events.
But in no other event is there such utter dominance by certain college programs over an event like there is in the men’s 200 free.
The four collegiate programs synonymous with the men’s 800 free relay are Michigan, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. Of the 32 NCAA Championships in this race since 1980, those four programs have won 24 (including 2012 champions Texas). Virginia has never won the NCAA title, but has taken 13 out of the last 14 ACC Championships in the race. What’s more interesting is that none of these programs are the typical West Coast powers; with 200 freestyles instead preferring to be East of the Rockies.
When lo0king through the psych sheet for the men’s 200 free, stunningly the top 17 swimmers have trained with one of those college programs.
Lochte swam for Florida, Phelps trained at Michigan while Bowman was the coach there, Vanderkaay has trained with both Michigan and Florida. Ricky Berens is a Texas grad. McLean and Robison swam for Virginia.
In fact, if we extend it one team further to Arizona (who took the 2006, 2007, and 2008 NCAA titles, though with mostly international swimmers) the trend runs to 21 swimmers, including Nicholas Alexiou, the youngest high-school swimmer in the field who is committed to Virginia next season.
Adam Ritter, who swim for Arizona and was a part of two of those NCAA Championship relays, is the highest-seeded swimmer at 18th who swam for a program other than the four mentioned above.
That’s an incredible dominance by those teams.