What Will it Take to Qualify for the 2020 Division I NCAA Championships?

The 2019-2020 NCAA swimming season is underway, which means we’re already looking towards the NCAA Championships in March.

So what exactly will it take to qualify for the 2020 NCAA Championships? The invite system is somewhat 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 falls roughly around the same time each year, normally getting slightly faster each season – all 30th-ranked men made it in last season (with some 31s) and all 37th-ranked women made it (with some 38s). The invite times for the 2018 meet were almost faster across the board compared to 2017, and the same was generally the case in 2019.

Somewhat unusually, the women’s 100, 200, 500 and 1650 free, as well as the 200 fly and 400 IM got slower, and the 200 IM remained the same; the men’s 1650 free, 200 back, and 200 fly (by .01) got slower.

Check out a full list of the invited times for the last four NCAA meets below.

MEN WOMEN
2016 Invite Time 2017 Invite Time 2018 Invite Time 2019 Invite Time Event 2016 Invite Time 2017 Invite Time 2018 Invite Time 2019 Invite Time
19.53 19.43 19.36 19.35 50 free 22.35 22.23 22.3 22.23
43.05 42.76 42.71 42.53 100 free 48.77 48.62 48.53 48.56
1:34.67 1:34.20 1:34.44 1:34.21 200 free 1:45.84 1:45.44 1:44.90 1:45.12
4:17.73 4:16.67 4:16.08 4:16.04 500 free 4:42.58 4:41.84 4:40.50 4:40.96
15:00.11 14:56.84 14:53.34 14:54.05 1650 free 16:17.64 16:16.41 16:12.53 16:14.21
46.51 46.28 46.14 46.06 100 back 52.93 52.52 52.54 52.46
1:41.92 1:41.74 1:41.18 1:41.31 200 back 1:54.47 1:54.00 1:53.64 1:54.01
52.92 52.62 52.75 52.52 100 breast 1:00.66 1:00.34 1:00.11 59.93
1:55.31 1:54.54 1:54.49 1:54.04 200 breast 2:10.89 2:10.55 2:10.14 2:09.77
46.44 46.1 45.89 45.9 100 fly 52.77 52.65 52.41 52.34
1:43.65 1:43.09 1:42.52 1:42.35 200 fly 1:57.02 1:56.60 1:55.99 1:56.18
1:44.41 1:44.34 1:44.03 1:43.82 200 IM 1:57.90 1:57.66 1:56.76 1:56.76
3:45.61 3:44.92 3:43.89 3:43.42 400 IM 4:11.05 4:10.86 4:09.75 4:10.00

In regards to the automatic qualifying standards, none of the 2020 times are slower than last season, but the men’s 200 IM and women’s 200 back remain the same.

MEN WOMEN
2018 ‘A’ Cut 2019 ‘A’ Cut 2020 ‘A’ Cut Event 2018 ‘A’ Cut 2019 ‘A’ Cut 2020 ‘A’ Cut
19.05 19 18.96 50 free 21.8 21.74 21.66
42.11 41.88 41.71 100 free 47.53 47.35 47.18
1:32.54 1:32.12 1:32.05 200 free 1:43.30 1:43.17 1:42.98
4:12.49 4:12.22 4:11.82 500 free 4:36.30 4:36.30 4:35.76
14:40.75 14:39.56 14:37.31 1650 free 15:53.50 15:53.50 15:52.41
45.25 45.12 44.95 100 back 51.16 50.99 50.93
1:39.66 1:39.38 1:39.16 200 back 1:50.99 1:50.50 1:50.50
51.74 51.73 51.67 100 breast 58.85 58.79 58.6
1:52.94 1:52.94 1:52.61 200 breast 2:07.18 2:06.94 2:06.84
45.49 45.24 45.05 100 fly 51.19 51.03 50.92
1:41.44 1:41.02 1:40.76 200 fly 1:53.80 1:53.48 1:53.20
1:41.88 1:41.34 1:41.34 200 IM 1:55.00 1:54.31 1:53.66
3:39.95 3:39.37 3:39.16 400 IM 4:04.70 4:04.16 4:03.62

Relays cuts

2020 Men’s Auto 2020 Men’s Provisional Relays 2020 Women’s Auto 2020 Women’s Provisional
1:17.17 1:17.86 200 free relay 1:28.43 1:29.21
2:51.11 2:52.46 400 free relay 3:14.61 3:16.35
6:17.18 6:21.85 800 free relay 7:00.86 7:05.88
1:24.30 1:24.97 200 medley relay 1:36.40 1:37.05
3:05.95 3:07.74 400 medley relay 3:31.66 3:33.78

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Chaitha D.

Yo it’s crazy how fast swimming is getting. On another note do you guys think that if hypothetically all of the genetic freaks that choose to play basketball and football, swam instead, Dressel’s records would be broken? Specifically talking about 17.6

Swimmy

Dressel has a higher vertical jump than the average nba player!

Xman

What is his vertical jump nowdays?

Chaitha D.

True but I’m thinking that if someone like Saquon Barkley or DK Metcalf swam since they were 5yrs old, they would give Dressel a major run for his money

DK would have to learn to swim more than just go routes

swimmerfromcali

Still, Dressel is a genetic freak among genetic freaks. Comparable to the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan, Jesse Owens, etc…

FlyNDie

Well for instance in Dressel’s 100 fly, he broke Michael Phelp’s 100 fly record, and Michael Phelps definitely was a genetic freak! So I believe that if the freaks of other sports transferred over maybe there would be some records broken, but we have to remember that a lot of those NCAA champions are genetic freaks themselves with body types and such for swimming.

Snarky

I don’t think you can say that 20 years ago all of the great athletes played basketball or football and the reason for so much depth in swimming now is because more really freaky athletes are swimming. I think there’s simply more athletes swimming (USAS has tripled in size in the last 30 years) and the swimming training methods are geared toward optimizing strength, speed, quickness and coordination–just like football and basketball did 20 years ago. You also cannot discount nutrition and strength training. 30 years ago weight training and dryland was frowned upon in swimming unless it was mostly aerobic. Coaches didn’t want girls (or boys) to get big or muscular because “it would bind you up.” Nebraska’s football… Read more »

JCO

Kevin Durant would dominate swimming. The guy is seven feet tall and explosive. Had he swam, he would have been incredible

Dude

I just don’t think that’s necessarily true the freaks of nature mentioned in this thread all have builds geared to there sport.

swimfast

Have you ever seen Dressel’s Instagram? There’s a video somewhere of him throwing like a 50+ yard football pass to a friend and it was incredibly impressive. He’s good at literally everything and we’re lucky to have him in our sport. Swimming is also inherently different than basketball (a hand-eye throwing sport) and baseball (a hitting sport) [though not *that much different]..I would compare swimming more to soccer, honestly, and even boxing

wolfensf

Does this being an Olympic year effect invite times i.e. 2016? Redshirts?

That’s a great question. My gut says it probably won’t have a significant impact on 9th and 16th place times, though that’s mostly anecdotal. The NCAA has gotten so deep, that even if you take out a few of the top swimmers in each event for redshirts, the 9th- and 16th-place times don’t fall off that much.

Some data on that theory: consider the men’s 100 free. Last year, it took 41.76 to make the A final and 42.18 to make the B. Even if you pull out four guys from the very top to simulate redshirts, the scoring times only drop to 41.9/42.2.

volmenusa

Would LOVE SwimSwam to estimate 2030 NCAA “A” cuts…They will be faster! It is exciting to see coaching, technology, nutrition and sports psychology add much to the amazing human spirit which leads to the principles of improvement.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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