2021 ACC Men’s Swimming Championships
- When: Wednesday, February 24th to Saturday, February 27th Prelims 10:00 am | Finals 6:00 pm (1650 prelims Saturday at 4:00 pm)
- Where: Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina (Eastern Time Zone)
- Defending Champion: North Carolina State University (NC State) (29x, 6th-straight) (results)
- Streaming: ACC Network
- Championship Central: Here
- Detailed Timeline: Here
- Psych Sheets: Here
- Live Results
There were a lot of great storylines coming out of last week’s college conference championships, and plenty more to come this week, and we’ll be continuing to cover some of those stories that we couldn’t get to in the thick of things. One of those stories from the Men’s ACC Championships were some swims by UVA freshman Noah Nichols that moved him up the 17-18 age group leaderboards.
The 100 breast at Friday’s ACC Championships was incredibly fast, with the top five times all under last year’s winning time of 51.85, and the entire A-final under last year’s 3rd place time of 52.51. The 200 breast the next day was also crazily fast, with five men under 1:53.0.
But one thread that’s been prominent this week across both the ACC and SEC Championships has been just how fast freshmen are, and UVA’s Noah Nichols was a case in point. When we first ranked the high school class of 2020 in the spring of 2019, Nichols wasn’t yet on the radar, with his best 100 breast time of 54.64 not quite standing out. By the spring of his senior year, when we re-ranked that class, Nichols had improved to 53.7/1:58.0 and earned a “Best of the Rest” mention.
Nichols came within a few hundredths of his best 100 breast time at last December’s UT Double Dual meet, and then exploded over the last few weeks. He dipped under 53 for the first time at the Cavalier Invite earlier this month.
Friday morning, he exploded for a 52.09 personal best, temporarily nabbing the UVA school record from Keefer Barnum before the senior took it back a few heats later with a 51.93. That night, the Cavalier freshman topped the senior, as Nichols clocked a 51.36 to take 2nd behind Louisville’s Evgenii Somov‘s ACC record-setting 51.03.
Nichols is only 18, so Friday’s swim moves him to #4 all-time in the 17-18 age group.
Top 17-18 100 Breast Performers
- Reece Whitley – 51.16
- Michael Andrew – 51.18
- Kevin Cordes – 51.32
- Noah Nichols – 51.36
- Max McHugh – 51.59
Additionally, Nichols now appears to be the 5th-fastest college freshman ever, behind Minnesota Max McHugh (50.30), Cal’s Reece Whitley (51.11), Arizona’s Kevin Cordes (51.32), and Indiana’s Zane Backes (51.35).
On Saturday, Nichols also climbed the 17-18 age group rankings in the 200 breast, swimming a 1:52.98 to take 5th place in the A-final. That time moves him up to #8 all-time in the 17-18 age group, and makes him the #12th-fastest freshman ever. Nichols came into this year with a lifetime best of 1:58.09, and has already lowered his personal best by over five seconds. He clocked a 1:56.91 back in December, then lopped 3.4 seconds off of that time with a 1:53.49 in Saturday’s prelims, before hitting that 1:52.98 in finals.
As of the moment, Nichols ranks 5th in the NCAA Division I in the 100 breast, and 11th in the 200 breast, with the Pac-12 and Big Ten meets still to come, and being safely qualified for next month’s NCAA Championships, he’ll get another chance to improve on those times next month in Greensboro.