Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
The Arizona State Sun Devils had an incredible performance Nov. 18-20 at the NC State Fall Invitational in Greensboro, with the men’s team pulling off a runner-up finish behind the Wolfpack on the strength of 10 event victories.
Highlighting the ASU effort was stud freshman Leon Marchand, a French native that showed he’s smoothly transitioned over to short course yards despite only training in the United States for a few months.
After the Sun Devils redshirted their entire roster last season because of the pandemic, the men’s team didn’t race another school until November (the women competed against Washington State in mid-October), and Marchand hit the ground running.
The 2021 Olympic finalist in the 400 IM placed first in the men’s 200 back (1:44.62), 200 fly (1:43.76) and 200 IM (1:43.69) in ASU’s dual against USC on Nov. 6, with the 200 IM time ranking first in the nation.
The 19-year-old took things up a few notches two weeks later in Greensboro, roaring to three wins at the NC State Invite in the 200 fly (1:40.86), 200 IM (1:40.80) and 400 IM (3:35.62), improving his NCAA-leading time in the 200 IM while take over the top spot with a bullet in the 400 IM.
Almost five seconds faster than anyone else this season, Marchand’s swim in the 400 IM was the fifth-fastest performance in history, and makes him the fourth-fastest swimmer of all-time behind Chase Kalisz (3:33.42), Carson Foster (3:35.27) and Abrahm DeVine (3:35.29). Foster, who ranks second in the country this season at 3:40.48, is the only swimmer faster than Marchand among freshman.
Marchand holds a 1.25-second gap on the next-fastest swimmer in the NCAA this season in the 200 IM, which is ASU teammate Grant House, and is just over a half-second shy of the leading time in the 200 fly (Georgia Tech’s Christian Ferraro, 1:40.33), ranking third.
In addition to his individual swims, Marchand also put up a very solid 46.14 lead-off on the men’s 400 medley relay, anchored the winning 800 free relay in 1:32.41, and split 42.50 on the anchor leg of the ‘B’ 400 free relay.
Among men’s teams that competed during the first week of invites, which doesn’t include Texas, Cal or Michigan, Arizona State emerged as the winner of a hypothetical combined meet despite the fact they fell to the Wolfpack in the actual invitational scoring. This is due in part to the team’s high quality (and not necessarily quantity, relative to other top teams), and Marchand is a major part of that.
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