2018 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Wednesday, March 21 – Saturday, March 24
- Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM (Central Time)
- Defending champion: Texas (3x) (results)
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Winners of the last three NCAA titles and NCAA record-holders in the 400 medley relay, the Texas Longhorns have missed the A final with a 9th-place finish at prelims of the 2018 NCAA meet.
Texas added two tenths to its seed time, fading to 3:04.56 and missing the top heat by half a second. That came after a predicted weakness in breaststroke and a surprise weakness in backstroke. John Shebat was the second-best backstroker in the nation last year and the third-fastest in history at 44.35. But he missed much of this year with an injury and only qualified for NCAAs late with a 45.76 in a time trial at Big 12s. He struggled to a 45.60 this morning, leaving Texas in a hole, which was compounded by the breaststroke spot.
Having graduated all-star breaststroker Will Licon, Texas had used Austin Temple at Big 12s to get a 52.55 split, and had Casey Melzer split 52.81 on the B relay. At the mid-season Texas Invite, Melzer split 52.50. And at Big 12s individually, Melzer was 52.97 and Temple just 53.60. The team elected to bring Melzer, not Temple, along as a relay-only swimmer, but then chose to use Sam Stewart as its prelims breaststroker today. While Stewart wasn’t that far off with a 52.64, Texas fell well behind the top contenders.
Then flyer Joseph Schooling was 44.79 – a fast split relative to the field, but well off his fastest-split-in-recorded-history of 43.39 – and anchor Brett Ringgold was 41.93 for Texas to just miss the championship heat for tonight.
Shebat’s rough split also bodes poorly for Texas’s 200 medley relay, where they may be able to fix their breaststroke woes by using Schooling. Shebat was out relatively fast today (21.47 to his feet), so he might be OK on a 50 split, but Texas will have to think hard about swapping him out with freshman Austin Katz, who has been flying this season and had a great split on the 800 free relay.
Per our research, this marks the first time Texas has missed the A final in a relay since 2008, when the 200 medley relay took 11th. Texas was 9th in the 800 free relay in 2011, but that event is a timed final, not a prelims/finals event.