The first weekend of midseasons featured fast swims all around the country as top-25 teams raced at the Tennessee Invitational, Georgia Fall Invite, Texas Hall of Fame Invite, NC State Invite, and more. In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the best performances from last weekend.
For simplicity’s sake, we’ve limited this list to individual events and only one entry per swimmer. And as always, there’s a certain subjectivity to these lists so please feel free to respectfully let us know your top swims of last weekend in the comments.
10. Jaek Horner, Utah — 100 Breaststroke (51.32)
Yes, the 100 breaststroke is a wide open race this season. But still, picking Utah’s Jaek Horner to be leading the NCAA rankings at this point in the season still would have been a very hot take. Nevertheless, that’s where things stand. At the Art Adamson Invite, the fifth-year Horner threw down a 51.32, breaking the Utes’ school record and setting the league’s new top time.
The swim is a new personal best for Horner by .46 seconds, undercutting the time he went at Pac-12s in March 2023.
Last season, Horner added time at NCAAs and finished 38th. If he avoids that this year then he could very well be looking at a second swim. 51.32 would have made the ‘B’ final in 2023, but given all the departed talent it could potentially be an ‘A’ final time this year.
9. Jonny Marshall, Florida — 200 Backstroke (1:38.52)
By the time the 200 backstroke rolled around at the Georgia Invite, freshman Jonny Marshall had already established that he was having a good meet. He’d broken 46 seconds for the first time–and done it three separate times, bringing his best all the way down to 45.57.
On the final day of racing, he broke 1:40 in the 200 backstroke for the first time with a 1:39.56 in prelims. Then in finals, he out-dueled Aidan Stoffle for the win and cut another second off his time with a 1:38.52. That’s a 3.47 second drop on the day for Marshall, who has propelled himself well below the NCAA ‘A’ standard and into ‘A’ final territory. Last year, his time would have easily made the ‘A’ final and eventually finished 5th.
Marshall’s 200 backstroke breakout is huge for Florida—they didn’t have anyone swim the event at 2023 NCAAs. Now, Marshall seems a safe bet to score points; so, not only have they added likely individual points (where they struggled last NCAAs) but did so in a “new” event.
8. Jordan Tiffany, BYU — 100 Butterfly (44.85)
After transferring from Tennessee, junior Jordan Tiffany continues to make waves at BYU. At the Mizzou Invitational, Tiffany set or helped to set five new school records so there were plenty of swims to pick from, but we’re going with his 100 butterfly. Tiffany didn’t compete at 2023 NCAAs last year; now, he’s well under both the 2023 NCAA Invited Time (45.57) and the time it took to qualify for the ‘B’ final (45.24).
Tiffany’s performance this fall has been impressive. In October, he swam the second sub-46 second 100 fly of the season, which put him #2 in the NCAA behind Ilya Kharun. Now after the first weekend of midseason invites, he’s still sitting in the top-10, courtesy of his 44.85.
Over the course of the meet, he chopped .78 seconds from his personal best; this swim was his first time breaking 45 seconds. BYU’s Jared Shaw earned All-American status in the 50 free based on the 2020 NCAA psych sheets. Tiffany has set himself up to be the program’s first swimmer to earn the honor at the meet since Jake Taylor in the 2015-16 season.
7. Mason Mathias, Auburn — 500 Freestyle (4:11.03)
Auburn came out swinging on the first night of 2023 NCAA’s, earning their first true All-American honor since 2018. Mason Mathias helped keep that momentum going the next day, making it back for the 500 free ‘B’ final in a personal best of 4:12.15.
At the Georgia Invite, Mason lowered that record to 4:11.03, finishing second behind 2021’s NCAA champion Jake Magahey (4:10.60). As of now, the two rank 1-2 in the NCAA this season. The swim highlights how much Mathias has improved over the last 12 months. At the same meet last year, he swam a personal best 4:14.44, a more than three second drop. And since then, Mathias has taken another 3.41 seconds off his best time.
4:11.03 would’ve upgraded Mathias into the ‘A’ final last year. That would be a big boost for Auburn, who only had one NCAA ‘A’ finalist last year.
6. Ilya Kharun, Arizona State — 100 Butterfly (44.33)
In his freshman season at ASU, Ilya Kharun has been a revelation for the Sun Devils. Sicne we’re limiting this digest to swims that happened at midseason invites, we can’t talk about his 200 fly from the Utah vs. ASU dual meet. But Kharun had plenty of impressive swims at his midseason invite including breaking 19 in the 50 free for the first time.
He made an impression by breaking the 100 fly school record in his first appearance as a Sun Devil. And though Léon Marchand briefly claimed the record, Kharun took it back in decisive fashion at the NC State Invite first swimming a 44.51 in prelims then popping off a 44.33 to win the event. Kharun’s 44.33 represents a .55 drop from his time at the beginning of the season. Since arriving in Tempe, he’s dropped a grand total of .93 seconds.
We’re choosing to focus on Kharun’s 100 fly because while he’d already asserted himself as a contender for the NCAA title earlier in the season. But now, he’s looking dangerous in the 100 fly as well. With this time drop, he’s moved himself solidly into contention for the ‘A’ final, which would be a big help to ASU as they look to claim the NCAA title.
5. Krzysztof Chmielewski, USC — 1650 Freestyle (14:37.74)
As the 2023 Worlds silver medalist in the 200 butterfly, we naturally expected Krzysztof Chmielewski to make an immediate impact on the USC Trojans in the yards version of the event. And he has, but he’s also turned out to be a strong distance freestyler as well as he helps re-energize USC this season.
In just his second time swimming the event, the freshman broke 14:40 for the first time, winning the event at the Texas Hall of Fame Invite with a 14:37.74. That makes him #1 in the NCAA this season and the only swimmer under 14:40 (Florida’s Gio Linscheer is 2nd with a 14:40.21).
A 14:37.74 would have finished 5th at 2023 NCAAs, just ahead of now fifth-year Jack Hoagland. As two of last year’s top four (champion Will Gallant and 4th place David Johnston) aren’t returning, that puts Chmielewski in a very strong position headed into the back half of the season.
4. Will Modglin, Texas — 100 Backstroke (44.49)
Freshman Will Modglin has a lot of responsibility on this year’s Longhorns team. At the Texas Hall of Fame Invite, he proved that he’s up to the challenge, swimming personal bests in all six of his individual events. He fired off an impressive 20.60 leading off Texas’ 200 medley relay, but we’re going with his 100 backstroke.
In the final, he cracked a 44.49, winning the race by more than a second ahead of his teammate Chris O’Connor. But more than that, it also ties him with Destin Lasco for the best 100 back performance by a freshman.
The swim marked Modglin’s first time sub-45, dropping from his previous PB of 45.01. Texas’ midseason performance showed that they are going to need every single point at NCAAs this season, and Modglin’s 100 back would’ve finished 5th at 2023 NCAAs. The 100 back is an event where the Longhorns have struggled at the past couple NCAAs, so in addition to likely giving them points in the individual events, Modglin’s swim also gives them a more than solid lead-off for their 400 medley relay.
3. Hubert Kos, Arizona State — 200 Backstroke, (1:36.54)
Hubert Kos scored 37 points at 2023 NCAAs—highlighted by a 3rd place finish in the 200 back—after just joining the Sun Devils in January. He’s continued to improve in both yards and meters since then and returned for his sophomore season as the newly minted 200-meter back world champion.
He scored a team high 128 points at the NC State Invite, picking up four individual event wins in four personal bests. The highlight was his 200 backstroke, where he blazed a 1:36.54. Not only does that break ASU’s program record, it also puts him ahead of Hugo Gonzalez as the all-time fastest non-American in the 200-yard backstroke.
In our preseason NCAA champions article, SwimSwam writers unanimously picked Lasco to win the 200 backstroke in March. But now, it’s looking like Kos will put in a real challenge to Lasco’s streak, and based on how he’s continued to improve in yards, take a crack at the U.S. Open Record.
2. Quintin McCarty, NC State — 50 Freestyle (18.80)
A promising recruit for the NC State Wolfpack, Quintin McCarty turned in some intriguing times last season in his first couple dual meets. But after getting injured, McCarty redshirted the season. Now, he’s back as a redshirt freshman and he at the NC State Invitational he showed that he’s better than ever by swimming a slew of personal bests.
It’s of course up for debate, but we’re going with the 50 freestyle as his best swim. McCarty came into the meet with a personal best of 19.35, which he crushed in Greensboro. First, he broke 19 seconds for the first time in prelims with an 18.91. Then, he dropped even more time in finals by blazing an 18.80 and winning the event in a high powered field that included Youssef Ramadan, Jack Dolan, and Jonny Kulow.
His time and winning the race has got to be a huge confidence boost for McCarty in his first major meet since his return from injury. The swim gives him the NCAA ‘A’ cut and though the 50 free has become increasingly difficult to final in at NCAAs the last couple seasons, if he can reproduce it at the right time, 18.80 would comfortably make the ‘A’ final.
1. Josh Liendo, Florida — 100 Freestyle (40.90)
Honestly, I think that you could make a case for any of the top three swims to be ranked #1. But at least in this article, the honor of the top swim from the first weekend of midseason belongs to Josh Liendo because frankly, 40.90 at this point in the season is ridiculous. He’s the defending NCAA champion and #2 all-time in the event and his 40.90 puts him ahead of Jordan Crooks (41.03) for the NCAA’s top time this season.
It’s his third time going sub-41 seconds after he went 40.28 (individual final) and 40.66 (relay lead-off) at 2023 NCAAs. This swim put an exclamation point on a meet where Liendo showcased just how much he’s improved in yards. He showed it in all his events but let’s just stick to the topic at hand: At this meet last year, Liendo swam this event in yards for the first time and went 41.70, eight-tenths slower than he went this year.
After Florida’s meet with Virginia, Liendo said that last year he was learning how to swim yards and now he’s able to apply things to his races. If this is Liendo applying things at midseason, we can’t wait to see the applications he makes at the end of the season.