What The Coaches Are Talking About on Day 1…Over 80% of Individuals Slower than Seed

Every NCAA coach this weekend or next who has qualifiers for the NCAA Championships is worried first-and-foremost about their own teams.

At their hearts, though, nobody becomes a coach of a Division I NCAA qualifier without being a little bit of a swim geek. And what are this special class of swim geek buzzing about on Thursday afternoon as the women’s NCAA Championships begin?

Well, sort of the same thing we are: how slow the first preliminary session was.

Specifically, slower than seed. According to numbers shared by Nebraska coach Patrick Rowan (who gave credit to Louisville coach Arthur Albiero), only 45 out of 231 individual swims in this morning’s preliminary session improved their seed times. (Relay numbers were about the same, though those are a bit hokie as some teams swim less than their full relays in prelims).

200 free relay 23 entries, 6 imp, .261 %imp
500 free 61 entries, 9 imp, .148 %imp
200 IM 64 entries, 9 imp, .203 %imp
50 free 55 entries, 11 imp, .218 %imp
Total entries 231, 45 tot imp, .195 %imp

Hopefully things pick up in finals and as the meet wears on, though with the condensed NCAA schedule, it can be hard to bring further energy once swimmers get into their 9th, 10th, and 11th swims in just three days.

And this will be the downside of the new qualifying system. Whereas more mid-major swimmers, and swimmers from teams without relays, are qualifying for the meet under the new system (one that doesn’t award bonus swims for those who only qualify on relays), this also means that swimmers have to taper harder to just make NCAA Championship qualifying times than they’re used to.

If you thought the Olympic Trials were bad, this number is even worse than our sample from the Olympic Trials, which were plagued by the same slower-than-seed performances.

Is this good for swimming or bad for swimming? There are people who feel that every meet should count, and there are people who feel that only the last meet should count; the group we don’t hear from is the group who thinks that the qualifying meet for the last meet should count more than the last meet, unless at least said qualifying meet counts for more than qualifying. (Make sense?)

Then again, it’s better to be the swimmer who made the meet and didn’t beat her seed time than to be the swimmer who’s at home watching the live stream on her laptop. This is simply the “game” of college swimming, and how the system has been designed. Sports aren’t always about hitting the absolute peak of athletic performance, though in the swimming community we have a special affinity for those moments. Sports are about who can perform the best under a given set of circumstances, and that’s what the NCAA Championships have become a true measure of.


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college swimmer

There are obviously many different reasons for the “slow” times however three reasons stick out to me. The kids who were on the cusp of qualifying most likely had a full taper very recently (aka in the past month) which is definitely not going to help them now The kids who expected to make the A final (hopefully no on “expects” to make it… but you know what I mean. There are favorites). were probably holding back a bit…even if not in a conscious way. I’m sure Henry did this in the 500 this morning Plus relays always have a huge amount of energy.. The room goes crazy. Going from that to the silence of the first few heats of… Read more »


Biggest thing that sticks out at me is the format. For example SEC championships are now 5 days long, then you get to the big show and they throw it all into 3 days. Thats a pretty drastic difference to me, especially when you start with a prelims session at NC’s unlike every conference that starts with some relays that are timed finals. It just doesn’t make sense why the format for the bigger meet would be so packed together. Give the swimmers some time to recover!

college swimmer

Yeah that makes sense, but I would see that having more of an effect by the third day when people would be extra tired… I don’t know why a shortened schedule would slow down the first session of the meet?


The vast majority of women are swimming slower than they did to qualify for this meet.
In the 500 Free, 51 of 61 swimmers swam slower than
their qualifying time (83.61%); [in 2012 the comparable percentage was 73.68]

In the 200 IM, 50 of 64 were slower than their qualifying time (78.13%); [in 2012 the comparable percentage was 62.71]

and in the 50 free, it was 41 of 55 slower than their qualifying time (74.55%); [in 2012 the comarable percentage was 59.09]

Big East

well having swum recently at the big east championships… I can tell you that I did not like the pool. It might be good for LCM and it has a stunning history, but there are multiple T’s at the bottom of the pool to accommodate for other possible pool and bulkhead configurations…and this can be confusing when you go to do turns.


really dude? I swam in the pool so many times in age group, for national meets and in college. Its easily one of the fastest pools in america and a great venue. In addition indianapolis is a great city to have a meet in. No swimmer at that meet is going to make excuses about the crosses on the bottom. Just looking up at that wall with all those greats is enough for you to forget about that superfluous crap. people that have those excuses in their mind are the type that probably didnt make the ncaa meet

cynthia curran

I think the meet was a week earlier in the past, so people are tapered not right.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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