WATCH: Clark Smith & 3 Others Break NCAA 1650 Record In Thrilling Race

As reported by Robert Gibbs:


  • NCAA record: 14:24.08, Martin Grodzki, Georgia, 2012
  • American record: 14:23.52, Connor Jaeger, Club Wolverine, 2014
  • U.S. Open record: 14:23.52, Connor Jaeger, Club Wolverine, 2014
  • 2016 NCAA Champion: 14:31.54, Chris Swanson, Pennsylvania

Early heats recap:

Wisconsin’s Matt Hutchins had the fastest time from the early heats, taking the heat 4 with a 14:31.19.  That’s almost two seconds faster than the time from this 3rd place finish last year, and faster than last year’s winning time.  Stanford freshman Grant Shoults knocked over fourteen seconds off his seed time with a 14:35.82 out of heat 3.  Florida senior Mitch D’Arrigo was the only other man under 14:40 so far, touching in 14:38.40 in the same heat as Hutchins.

The final heat promised to be exciting, as it featured a loaded field, and sure enough this was, as announcer Sam Kendriks called it, “the greatest 1650 in history.”  Sure enough, Texas senior Clark Smith and Northwestern senior Jordan Wilimovsky, both USA Olympians, were ahead of US Open and American record pace at the 500, but PJ Ransford and Felix Auboeck kept it close, with Ransford taking the lead by the halfway point and moving ahead of the record pace himself.

At the 1000, Ransford was a body length ahead of the field and still ahead of pace, with Smith, Auboeck and Wilimovsky close together and battling for 2nd.  The leaders would continue to hold that pattern for a few more laps, while South Carolina’s Akaram Mahmoud began to move up on that group out of lane eight.

Wilimovsky took the lead at 1300 and was a second under record pace at the 1350.   By the 1400 mark, all five of the aforementioned men were in a line together, and it looked like the race would belong to whomever could push it coming up.  Ransford began to fall off the pace, but the final were laps were absolutely insane, with the lead changing back and forth, but Smith took the lead with about a 100 to go, and held on to the lead, touching in 14:22.41 and setting a new US Open, American, and NCAA record.  Smith was barely able to climb out of the pool and had to be helped off the deck.

Auboeck, Mahmoud, and Wilimovsky were all under the previous mark of 14:23.52, which was set by Connor Jaeger at the 2014 USA Winter National Championships.

Top Eight:

  1. Clark Smith, Texas, 14:22.41
  2. Felix Auboeck, Michigan, 14:22.80
  3. Akaram Mahmoud, South Carolina, 14:22.99
  4. Jordan Wilimovsky, Northwestern, 14:23.45
  5. Matt Hutchins, Wisconsin, 14:31.19
  6. PJ Ransford, Michigan, 14:32.35
  7. Anton Ipsen, NC State, 14:34.85
  8. Grant Shoults, Stanford, 14:35.82

In This Story


  1. swimmer says:

    Yes!!!! Thank you so much for posting this!!

  2. Blkswmr says:

    Thx for posting. The crowd was electric! The #1 NCAA swim ever.

    • gator says:

      That was my first reaction as well, but no remembering Chris Swanson’s incredible finish last year, i still have to say that was the best mile race I’ve ever seen. He received the longest ovation I’ve ever seen for a swimmer. This year’s race was by far the fastest ever, and from beginning to end the most exciting.

    • JP input is too short says:

      It was the #1 overall NCAA race ever, but I still gotta go with Nolan’s 1:39.3 200 IM for the best NCAA swim ever.

  3. lovethemile says:

    And the announcing by Sam K. was awesome! Camera work was great – no zooming in!!

  4. Bigly says:

    All terrific swims. Props to PJ for being the rabbit. Looking at the top 8, it’s great to see such a diversity of schools represented. When you add in Penn’s winner from last year, it’s obvious you can compete as a great distance swimmer at a lot of places. In some ways, because the powerhouse schools emphasize relay swims so much, your chances to be recruited as a distance elite probably go up at less highly ranked (for swimming) colleges.

  5. SwimGeek says:

    Got goose bumps watching this (again). So good.

  6. Swim Pop says:

    Epic, thanks.

  7. Tom from Chicago says:

    That last 50 must have been painful. Tough, tough guys!


      the last 100 was very painful . Wow , what a race . This bodes well for Usa in the replacement of Conor Jaeger for Long distance competition . Clark is 6’8″ – he is Huge ,and what a fantastic stroke . U can’t wait to see him swim this summer in the Big Pool .

  8. korn says:

    Thanks for posting!

  9. DCSWIM says:

    Fantastic race. When’s the last time someone has held the American records in the 500-1000-1650 at once?

    • iLikePsych says:

      Not counting Katie Ledecky?

      • DCSWIM says:

        Yeah. You can’t count Ledecky because she’s superhuman.

        • DINO says:

          Katie Hoff then.

          • X swimmer says:

            What about that last time a man did it, if it was ever done by one?

          • Braden Keith says:

            X swimmer – it’s never been done by a man, because USA Swimming didn’t recognize American Records in this event until about a decade ago, where Erik Vendt got it. Clark Smith is actually the only swimmer to ever break the American Record in the 1000 free, at least by USA Swimming’s definition. Vendt set it, and Smith broke it. Similarly to how Katie Hoff was the only one to hold it before Ledecky did.

          • Barry says:

            And before that, I assume, Janet Evans, although USA Swimming’s record history for the 1000 starts in 2007. Because nobody swam the 1000 before Katie Hoff’s 9:10.

    • big calves says:

      Tom Dolan

  10. troy says:

    amazing swims!!! 4 people under American record that is incredible. It was interesting to see. It looked like it was PJ Randsford for while then the other guys came on strong in the middle lane. Akaram swam a very smart race in lane 8, even at the 1200 he looked pretty far behind. Very well swam all of these guys.

  11. Chooch says:

    Clark Smith: 11 strokes per 25. Everyone else: 12, 13, 14 strokes per 25. And with a pulled groin muscle. Like Eddie said, “Swimmers are used to pain—they’re really good at it.” Outstanding!

  12. SwimJenn66 says:

    I’ve watched this 3 times now and can’t get enough. What a RACE!

  13. Marklewis says:

    No one can say now that Clark Smith couldn’t handle the pressure.

    He made his move at the right time to take the lead and win the race. If he becomes a top 1500 m freestyler, he will have other races likes this that will come down to the wire.

    Felix had a tremendous surge on the last 50. He moved up two places to get second.

  14. SwimSwamSwum says:

    Amazing race

  15. swimswammer says:

    Watch out for Wilimovsky this summer. He just keeps improving. He’s the best LCM of the bunch by a lot in 14:45 and this was another 10 second drop for him in SCY.


      Him and Clark will qualify in June for the 800 and 1,500 .

      • Swommers says:

        Clark will also be in the 400.

      • Caleb says:

        They look to be the favorites, sure. I wonder if Clark will stick with being a real distance swimmer, though… he dropped down to the 200 to make top 6 at the Olympics and it seemed to hurt his 1500. Might need to decide on that trade-off. I think True Sweetser will be in the mix this summer, too, even though he had a tough meet last week.

  16. Captain Ahab says:

    If PJ Ransford works on holding that pace he could possibly go 14:16. That kid is tough. What club did he compete for?

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About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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