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

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4 years ago

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

4 years ago

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

Reply to  Blkswmr
4 years ago

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
Reply to  Blkswmr
4 years ago

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.

Reply to  JP input is too short
4 years ago

43 100 back? 135 200 back? 147 breaststroke.

dressel 40.00 free? great races all around…hard to choose just one!

JP input is too short
Reply to  Swammerererer
4 years ago

It’s definitely not an easy choice!

4 years ago

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

4 years ago

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.

4 years ago

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

Swim Pop
4 years ago

Epic, thanks.

Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

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

Reply to  Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

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 .

4 years ago

” I can’t wait to see him swim this summer ….thats better ! LOL

4 years ago

Thanks for posting!

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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