Swimming is most exciting during a close race with something on the line. It’s is a sport about racing. Beating the person in the next lane with a different cap on. While there aren’t championships to win this time of year in NCAA swimming, there are dual meets, and this weekend was full of some good ones with lots of close, meaningful, exciting races. We lack the manpower to give a full recap of every great meet, but I’ve compiled quick summaries of the best this weekend had to offer.
William and Mary 148, Towson 140, Men
There were a bunch of meets that took place at the Navy Quad (Navy and Johns Hopkins were the other teams), but the best one was William and Mary’s tight win over Towson. This meet was full of close racing. Jake Kealy (1:52.09) of W&M beat Towson’s Zachary Bishop (1:52.18) by .09 to lead the 200 back, Colin Wright of W&M won the 50 free by .12 (20.57) over Towson’s Matthew Essing (20.69), Towson beat William and Mary’s medley relay by .01 behind Essing’s 20.24 anchor leg, but the event that stands out as the key to the win was the 100 IM. In that event, 5’6″ William and Mary freshman Steve Thalblum (51.34) beat out Towson’s star, national team member Jack Saunderson (51.52) by a narrow .18 margin (Brayde Lauffer of Navy beat both of them, but that doesn’t matter for this meet). The win got William and Mary close enough so their relay victory in the next event sealed the win.
William and Mary 150.5, UMBC 143.5, Men
This meet took place on Saturday, the day after William and Mary’s dramatic win over Towson and was somehow even better. William and Mary never held the lead until the final event. UMBC started the meet with a 30-0 advantage from diving and proceeded to win the first 4 swimming events. William and Mary then won 9 of the remaining 10 swimming events, including a tie for first in the 200 IM. They completed the come from behind win with a resounding 4 second win in the final relay.
St Peters 118, New Jersey Institute of Technology 115, Men
This meet was by far the closest of the NJIT Invitational and came between the two best men’s teams at the meet (they both beat Mount St Mary’s and Manhattan comfortably). NJIT swept the relays and went 1-2 on both boards, but St Peters won 6 of 8 individual swimming events. This meet was as back and forth as the come. After the first event, there were 6 ties or lead changes in the score during the remaining 12 events. NJIT were led by double winners Joshua Franco (500 free, 200 free) and Cole Becker (1 meter, 3 meter). St Peter’s had two double winners of their own in Spanish swimmer Jhonny Perez (50 free, 100 free) and Oleksiy Polishchuk (100 breast, 200 IM).
Miami 121, Florida Gulf Coast 119, Women
This meet was part of a double dual with Georgia Tech. Miami got off to a great start, building a 19 point lead after the first 5 swimming events. After a 9-9 points wash on the 1 meter, Florida Gulf Coast came out hot from the break with a 1-2 finish in the 200 fly and a 1-2-3 finish in the 100 free. This pushed them to a 2 point lead, their only lead of the day. Miami won the next 3 events (with another 9-9 tie on the 3 meter). This lead was enough to hold off FGCU’s 1-3 finish in the final relay.
Notre Dame 132, Georgia Tech 130, Men
The day after the Miami women’s win over Flordia Gulf Coast, they swam Georgia Tech for a second time, but this time Notre Dame joined and had a great meet with the Georgia Tech men. The meet was pretty back and forth. Georgia Tech twice held the lead and lost it. Their largest lead was 16 after the 1 meter. Notre Dame also held a 16 point lead after the 500 free. Georgia Tech needed a 1-2 finish in the final relay to win the meet, and they actually came pretty close. Their A relay won with a 2:59.96, just touching out Notre Dame’s 3:00.15. Tech’s B relay was within striking distance in 3rd with a 3:00.91. Tech were led by three event wins from Brazilian sophomore Caio Pumputis (400 IM, 100 IM, and 100 breast), but the star of the meet was Notre Dame sophomore Zach Yeadon who won the 200-500-1650 distance free triple. Yeadon won the 1650 with a 15:17.10, the best time in the NCAA this season, and with only the women’s heats of the 200 to rest, won the 200 in 1:37.37, only 1.25 off his PR.
Lehigh 128, West Chester 115, Women
Lehigh’s win, which wasn’t assured until the final race of the meet, was succinctly described by their website as “dominant, but close.” The odd description was apt. The meet saw 1-2 sweeps by one team or the other in 5 of 11 individual events, and there were few close races between the teams for first place. The most exciting was probably the decisive final relay which Lehigh won by .64.
San Diego State 154, Boise State 145
This one was wrapped up before the final event as San Diego State won 8 of 13 individual events. Boise State won the last relay to create the narrow final margin. San Diego State were led by a sprint sweep from Alma Thormalm and a fly sweep by Courtney Vincent. Boise State’s only double event winner was Lauren Vitort who took the 500 and 200 free. The meet, held at UC San Diego, was also notable for the exhibition races during the break between Team Elite, who are based out of UC San Diego, and Chinese swimmers
Houston 152.5, SMU 147.5
Another back and forth meet. Houston looked like they were going to run away with it early by winning the 1st 3 individual events and holding a 47-27 advantage after the 100 back. However, SMU won the next 6 swimming events to close the gap to 5 (101-106) with 5 events to go (Houston took the 1 meter in the middle of that run). Houston hit back hard with a 1-2-4 finish in the 500 to bring the lead back to 16. SMU took the final three individual events to open a narrow 143.5-139.5 advantage heading into the final relay. In that race, SMU led after 2 swimmers but Houston’s Zarena Brown (51.20) made up 1.2 seconds on SMU’s Samantha Smith and gave the lead to anchor Kylie Andrews (51.37). Andrews closed out the win in both the relay and the meet. More on this meet here
The final meet of note is the CSU Bakersfield Sprint Classic. The meet was an invite, so it doesn’t exactly fit the premise of “best dual meets;” however, it featured a close race for the top spot in the men and women’s meets, so it’s worth a mention here. The women’s meet saw Hawaii beat UCSB 377-369, and the men’s meet was even closer. The UCSB men beat Hawaii by only a point and a half 456.5 to 455.