What Does It Take To Qualify For The NCAA Championships?

The first slate of mid-season invite meets are set to go down this weekend, meaning it will be the first time for many NCAA swimmers to see where they’re at with a bit of a rest, a race suit, and maybe even a shave-down. Last weekend we saw the ACC vs Big Ten College Challenge, where the swimmers competing produced some of the fastest swims we’ve seen so far this season.

The invite season marks a great opportunity for swimmers to nail down a qualifying spot for the NCAA Championships, and thus allowing them to avoid doing a double taper for their conference championship meet (to qualify for NCAAs) and then swim the National Championships shortly thereafter.

So, what exactly will it take to qualify for the 2019 NCAAs? The invite system is a bit complicated, but, essentially, achieving an ‘A’ (automatic) qualifying time gets you in. After that, the next-fastest swimmers in each event get added until the total participant number (270 for men, 322 for women) is met. You can read a full breakdown of how that works here.

The cut line to get invited to NCAAs usually fall roughly around the same time each year, normally getting slightly faster each season. The invite times for the 2018 meet were almost faster across the board compared to 2017, with only the men’s 200 free and 100 breast and the women’s 50 free and 100 back getting slower. From 2016 to 2017, all events got faster.

Check out a full list of the invited times for the last three NCAA meets below. To see who has hit the 2018 qualifying times so far this season, click here.

MEN WOMEN
2016 Invite Time 2017 Invite Time 2018 Invite Time Event 2016 Invite Time 2017 Invite Time 2018 Invite Time
19.53 19.43 19.36 50 free 22.35 22.23 22.30
43.05 42.76 42.71 100 free 48.77 48.62 48.53
1:34.67 1:34.20 1:34.44 200 free 1:45.84 1:45.44 1:44.90
4:17.73 4:16.67 4:16.08 500 free 4:42.58 4:41.84 4:40.50
15:00.11 14:56.84 14:53.34 1650 free 16:17.64 16:16.41 16:12.53
46.51 46.28 46.14 100 back 52.93 52.52 52.54
1:41.92 1:41.74 1:41.18 200 back 1:54.47 1:54.00 1:53.64
52.92 52.62 52.75 100 breast 1:00.66 1:00.34 1:00.11
1:55.31 1:54.54 1:54.49 200 breast 2:10.89 2:10.55 2:10.14
46.44 46.10 45.89 100 fly 52.77 52.65 52.41
1:43.65 1:43.09 1:42.52 200 fly 1:57.02 1:56.60 1:55.99
1:44.41 1:44.34 1:44.03 200 IM 1:57.90 1:57.66 1:56.76
3:45.61 3:44.92 3:43.89 400 IM 4:11.05 4:10.86 4:09.75

In regards to the automatic qualifying standards, none of the 2019 times are slower than last season, but the men’s 200 breast, women’s 500 free and women’s 1650 free all remain the same.

MEN WOMEN
2018 ‘A’ Cut 2019 ‘A’ Cut Event 2018 ‘A’ Cut 2019 ‘A’ Cut
19.05 19.00 50 free 21.80 21.74
42.11 41.88 100 free 47.53 47.35
1:32.54 1:32.12 200 free 1:43.30 1:43.17
4:12.49 4:12.22 500 free 4:36.30 4:36.30
14:40.75 14:39.56 1650 free 15:53.50 15:53.50
45.25 45.12 100 back 51.16 50.99
1:39.66 1:39.38 200 back 1:50.99 1:50.50
51.74 51.73 100 breast 58.85 58.79
1:52.94 1:52.94 200 breast 2:07.18 2:06.94
45.49 45.24 100 fly 51.19 51.03
1:41.44 1:41.02 200 fly 1:53.80 1:53.48
1:41.88 1:41.34 200 IM 1:55.00 1:54.31
3:39.95 3:39.37 400 IM 4:04.70 4:04.16

So far this year, seven women and two men have hit an automatic qualifying standard. Check them out here (bottom of article).

During invite season it’s also important to keep an eye on the NCAA relay standards:

2019 Men’s Auto 2019 Men’s Provisional Relays 2019 Women’s Auto 2019 Women’s Provisional
1:17.41 1:18.11 200 free relay 1:28.61 1:29.36
2:51.39 2:52.72 400 free relay 3:14.97 3:16.82
6:18.46 6:22.60 800 free relay 7:02.52 7:06.19
1:24.56 1:25.33 200 medley relay 1:36.75 1:37.39
3:06.78 3:08.33 400 medley relay 3:32.20 3:34.35

Other than the conference all-star teams from the Big Ten/ACC meet, the only relay to hit an auto time so far this year are the Louisville women in the 400 medley relay (3:31.45) from the SMU Classic.

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SocratesLOVESolivesoil

Great flow chart! Thanks. A fun time of year for sure…to all swimmers go FAST!!!!!

swimmerTX

Seli flexing on us again

Just Keep Swimming

Good luck to all at these mid-season invites; should see some FAST swimming!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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