What Did The 500 Free Heats Tell Us About The Upcoming 1650 At The Men’s NCAA Championships?


The first preliminary session of the 2024 Men’s NCAA Championships has now wrapped up, and the men’s 500 free heats produced some interesting swims.

The 500 free is the best indicator for previewing the upcoming 1650 free, which will occur on Saturday. Of the top eight entrants in the mile, only two posted a best time in the prelims of the 500 free. Three swimmers recorded season best efforts, but only two total competitors advanced for a second swim.

The first finals qualifier was ASU’s Zalan Sarkany, who checked-in at 4:11.38 to qualify 10th for the B-final. Sarkany was the 2nd seed coming into the meet, but added 2.19 seconds from his best time. While that may raise some concerns about him challenging his best time in the 1650 (14:23.01) from the Pac-12 Championships, his consistency in the longer distances should provide a confidence boost.

Sarkany posted a time of 4:15.02 in the 500 free at the ASU vs. Grand Canyon dual meet on January 6th, the same day as he swam 14:28.09 in the 1650. On January 19th and 20th, at additional dual meets, he checked-in with a pair of 8:37 swims in the 1000 over those two days (which is fairly compatible to a sub-14:30 1650 swim), while adding swims in the 4:12-4:13 range for the 500 at those same meets. While Sarkany’s 4:11.38 is off the pace from Pac-12s, his 14:28.09 would still lead the rest of the field by nearly 7 seconds. Sarkany is seeded first by 11.99 seconds based on his entry time. The point being, there’s really no cause for concern here, as he’s also right on par with where he was in prelims at Pac-12s before popping his current lifetime-best 500 in that final.

Florida freshman Andrew Taylor and his sophomore teammate, Gio Linscheer, were the only two athletes ranked in the top eight of the 1650 to clock personal bests this morning. Taylor hit the wall in 4:13.10 to undercut his 4:13.48 from SECs, while Linscheer punched a time of 4:11.97 to break 4:12 for the first time. The pair are seeded 4th and 5th for the 1650, respectively, and this is a positive sign as we move towards that event on Saturday.

The third and final swimmer to notch a season best was Wolfpack 5th year Ross Dant, who touched in 4:13.94. He dipped under his previous marker of 4:15.05 from last month’s ACC Championships, but was a bit off his personal record of 4:10.35 from 2022. He put up a time of 14:39.34 at this year’s ACCs in the 1650, and owns a best time of 14:30.32 in that distance, so somewhere in-between those two times seems likely for Saturday’s timed final. 3rd through 6th in the 1650 entry list is only separated by 1.6 seconds, so there looks to be a path for him to challenge for the top three.

Although not in the top eight entries for Saturday’s 1650, Levi Sandidge (Kentucky) and Jack Hoagland (SMU) had great swims this morning in the 500. Look for them in the 1650 on Saturday, as both could very well propel themselves into at least the top eight.

How The Top 8 Entrants In The 1650 Freestyle Performed In The 500 This Morning: 

  • Top Seed: Zalan Sarkany (ASU) — 14:23.01
    • This morning in the 500: 4:11.38, 10th (+2.19 from season best, +2.19 from lifetime best)
  • 2nd Seed: Charlie Clark (OSU) — 14:35.00
    • Did not swim the 500, as his only entry is the 1650.
  • 3rd Seed: Krzysztof Chmielewski (USC) — 14:37.74
    • This morning in the 500: 4:16.06, 29th (+2.22 from season best, + 2.22 from lifetime best)
  • 4th Seed: Andrew Taylor (FLOR) — 14:38.41
    • This morning in the 500: 4:13.10, 17th (-0.38 from season best, -0.38 from lifetime best)
  • 5th Seed: Gio Linscheer (FLOR) — 14:38.78
    • This morning in the 500: 4:11.97, 13th (-1.13 from season best, -0.72 from lifetime best)
  • 6th Seed: Ross Dant (NCST) — 14:39.34
    • This morning in the 500: 4:13.94, 19th (-1.11 from season best, +3.59 from lifetime best)
  • 7th Seed: Owen Lloyd (NCST) — 14:41.32
    • This morning in the 500: 4:19.15, 43rd (+4.28 from season best, +4.28 from lifetime best)
  • 8th Seed: Sam Campbell (OSU) — 14:42.63
    • This morning in the 500: 4:19.67, 44th (+4.18 from season best, +4.18 from lifetime best)

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jp input is too short
1 month ago

Little bit different intensity required for morning swims at NCAAs when 4:11 makes A final versus 4:16 at Pac-12.

1 month ago

Sandidge (who had good 500) will win the mile.

Reply to  Jpsteady
1 month ago

Zalán will win it easily.

Reply to  Jpsteady
1 month ago

I don’t understand Sandidge. I assume he just swims the 500 to try to estimate his feel/pace for the mile? By all normal accounts, his 500 this morning would generally be considered very slow for this meet (48th place in a 4:20). I checked last year’s results and he went 4:24 in prelims of the 500 and then went 14:40 in the mile with an opening 500 of 4:21. So I guess maybe he could be in the 1430s again this year??? Very confusing.

1 month ago

Don’t forget about Hoagland. 8th this morning in the 500…

jp input is too short
Reply to  woods
1 month ago

Been waiting for peak Hoagland… first PR since 2021 in that race.

1 month ago

Sarkany was 4:16 at both conference and NCAA last year. He is a better swimmer generally now, but his 500 advance was possibly taken out of its context when he moved up to 2nd seed.

At conference, he was swimming next to a training/teammate in Marchand, who was slow enough out that Sarkany could tie a string to Leon and get pulled along a bit through the 300, before Leon dropped the hammer to break contact. from Zalan at which point Zalan had broken from others in the conference final.

This morning Sarkany tried to push out early but was not able, on his own, to break away from three central folks in his heat (Solychek(Sp?), Carrozza and… Read more »

1 month ago

Everyone is sleeping on Jack Hoagland.