Welcome to The Week That Was In College Swimming, where every week we’ll take a look at some of the highlights from around the NCAA in all three divisions.
Swims of the Week
Setting the Tone – Kaitlyn Dobler, USC:
USC is known for throwing down fast suited times at their annual invite. This year was no exception: NCAA champion Kaitlyn Dobler clocked a 57.83 100 breast. That’s 1.26 seconds faster than what she went to win at the SMU Classic last week. Already, she’s within a second of the lifetime best 56.93 she went to earn her national title. The time also faster than the 57.95 she went at this meet last season, which is a good sign for her as she begins her title defense against international medalists like Anna Elendt and Lydia Jacoby.
The Swedish Standard – Bjorn Seeliger, Cal
At Cal’s dual with Utah, Seeliger ripped a (reportedly unsuited) 19.29 leading off the 200 freestyle relay. It’s a blistering time for October, and even faster than the 19.36 Tennessee sophomore Jordan Crooks has popped now multiple times. There have been a bevy of 19-mids fired off by the likes of Crooks, Brooks Curry, and Quintin McCarty. Now, Seeliger has thrown down a gauntlet of his own. Last October, Seeliger swam 19.70 and 20.82. This is a huge improvement on that for the NCAA runner-up who, had he swum his prelims time (18.45) in finals, would have been champion.
The Next Freshman Sprint Star? – Gui Caribe, Tennessee
Last year, Crooks was the freshman sprint sensation to watch. This year, that title might stay in Knoxville with Gui Caribe. Tennessee’s 400 medley relay splits weren’t properly recorded due to a timing error at their dual with NC State; however, it appears that Caribe anchored in 41.96. Unsuited sub-42 splits are rare and if this was one, it’s impressive Caribe did it as a freshman in October. He followed up with 43.36 to win the individual 100 free and a 42.72 split on the 400 free relay. He also dropped a pair of 19-low 50 free splits that cement him as a solid addition to Tennessee’s sprint group and a name to watch going forward.
Berkeley Backstroke – Isabelle Stadden, Cal
The second Cal swimmer to make our list this week is Isabelle Stadden. After entering the transfer portal in the spring, Stadden ultimately elected to stay at Cal for her junior season. This summer, she earned her first LCM national championship in the 200 back. She was .01 seconds off her lifetime best, which she described post-race as “a long time coming in [that event] …it’s just been a mental block for me.” She rolled that success into some early season yards speed with a 1:52.96 200 back at Cal’s dual against Utah. Already, that’s a time that’s worthy of the 2022 NCAA ‘B’ final. A lot of Cal’s hopes of staying afloat in the standings rest on Stadden, especially with Izzy Ivey‘s status up in the air. Stadden was the 200 back runner-up last year behind Regan Smith, whose since turned pro. None of us at SwimSwam chose Stadden as our preseason 200 back NCAA champion and that’s beginning to look like an oversight.
Teams of the Week
The Pack Runs Deep – NC State Men
The NC State men are ridiculously deep, which was on full display in their win against Tennessee. In the 50 free, Quintin McCarty, David Curtiss, and Nyls Korstanje all dipped under 20 seconds. McCarty’s time of 19.44 was especially impressive because it’s only .09 off his lifetime best. In distance, they have a deadly duo in Will Gallant and Ross Dant, who went 1-2 in the 1000 and 2-3 in the 500. NCAA 100 back champion Kacper Stokowski and McCarty took the top two spots in the 100 back, while Korstanje and Luke Miller did the same in the 100 fly. Even without four of their 2022 NCAA qualifiers swimming, they had no trouble taking the win and look primed to shake up the national standings.
Undefeated Dawgs – UGA Women
Pre-season, there were many questions about what this season would look like for the Georgia women. Their long time head coach Jack Bauerle retired and the combined program split in two. Stefanie Williams Moreno, who’s been with the program a long time, took over the women’s side and there were questions about what these effects these program-level changes would have. Dakota Luther and top sprinter Maxine Parker transferred, leaving big holes. However, the Georgia women have silenced all doubters with their 4-0 season record. Their meet with Georgia Tech this week was SCM, so the times don’t hold much weight. However, Zoie Hartman has bounced back after a down year in her primary breaststroke events. Sophomore distance star Abby McCulloh looks strong, as do fifth-years Marie Schobel and Callie Dickinson. That’s a solid foundation for them to build on throughout the season.
Tigers Shine in SoCal – Auburn Men
The Tigers have not stopped rolling since Ryan Wochomurka took over as head coach last year. After their best NCAA finish since 2018, they rolled straight into a stellar long course season. They’ve transitioned back into yards well, highlighted by their success at the USC invite. Arguable the most impressive performance was Reid Mikuta‘s 51.41 100 breast. That makes Mikuta the first swimmer to crack 52 seconds in a non-intrasquad meet, and he was also .09 off his lifetime best. Powered by brothers Aidan and Nate Stoffle, the Auburn men also swept the relays, putting up some of the fastest times in the nation this season. That includes a sizzling 1:24.54 200 medley relay. After a few down years, the Tigers are pulling themselves back into the national conversation.
Storylines to Watch
Rising to the Challenge – Kenyon
Armed with a new mascot, the Division III powerhouse Kenyon faced off this week against Division I opponents St. Bonaventure and Cleveland State. Both the Owl women and men beat both teams to open their season. The Kenyon women–the reigning D3 champions–were led by senior Olivia Smith and sophomore Jenna Fadely, who each won two events. The Kenyon women graduated a huge weapon in Crile Hart, who won three individual NCAA titles and D3 Female Swimmer of the Year last season. They won their title last year by only 7 points, so they will need to find a way to replace her quickly in order to fend off Emory.
On the men’s side, they’re turning over a new leaf after disqualifying both medley relays at NCAAs, which took them entirely out of the team race. They beat both of their Division I opponents as well, lifted by four swimmers winning 2 or more events. Their distance ace Bryan Fitzgerald–who scored 51 points at NCAAs and won D3 Male Swimmer of the Year, was back in the water for his senior season. He didn’t race in his primary events, instead taking on the 200 free and the 200 IM, where he finished fourth and second respectively. The men certainly come into this season with something to prove, and getting off to a 2-0 start against Division I teams is a big confidence boost.
Hawks on the Rise – UNCW
UNCW didn’t race this week, but they still turned heads in practice. They had a suited test day this week, which resulted in multiple best times, including a senior woman cracking 22 seconds in the 50 free for the first time and a freshman woman dropping a 53.70 100 fly which cut 2.7 seconds off her lifetime best. Earlier this season on the men’s side, Jacob Duracinsky posted the program’s first unsuited 200 free under 1:40 when he went 1:39.38 at a dual meet. That’s about two seconds off his lifetime best. All these early season swims together show that UNCW is a program getting ready to make the next leap in its development.
The Transfer Impact – Bernal and Transom
It’s worth keeping an eye on the impact of all the fifth-years, especially those using their final year of eligibility on a different team. However, this week we’re thinking of two in particular. At the USC invite, a pair of All-American swimmers turned up in different caps than we’ve gotten used to seeing them race in. Aria Bernal has transferred to USC from Arizona and Laticia Transom from USC to Hawaii.
Both should make immediate impacts on their new teams. Bernal’s PAC-12 finishes of 4th in the 100 back and 6th in the 200 back are higher than any USC swimmer. That’s huge for USC, who finished only 27 points behind Cal and must be looking to close that gap in any way possible.
As for Transom, she immediately has three school records within reach. Her best times in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles would all have easily won MPSF conference titles last season and boost Hawaii’s relays into title contention. Last year, Hawaii lost the conference championship by a mere 12.5 points after a five-year win streak; with Transom aboard they’re in prime position to reclaim the title.
Top Times of The Week
Note: Top Times of the Week is suspended while the NCAA database gets repaired. Once it’s fixed, we’ll resume this section.
The Week Ahead
There’s an embarrassment of riches for college meets this week with lots of cross-conference action. We’ve got Virginia kicking off their season in a dual against Florida, where the women will race their championship banner. Texas is back in the water for a tri-meet with Texas A&M and Indiana. ASU and the electric Leon Marchand face off against Wisconsin. With so many of the best teams in the country racing, it should be a great week of racing.
For the full list of this week’s meets, click here.
Justice for Jack Cosgrove per the Seahawks on the rise segment.
Bryan got 4th in the 200 free, teo jaworski got 2nd.
UNCW looks great and is swimming really fast. But they have had multiple unsuited, sub 1:40 200 Frees in the past few years.
Hawks on the rise 👀 Go Bobby go
How in the world are Tennessee and NC state going this fast in October. 308 4 medley relay from Tennessee when they were 304 at NC’s is wild
Gui is cracked
Gui is literally him