What Will It Take To Make The 2018 NCAA Championship Meets?

As NCAA programs begin their all-important mid-year invite season this week, now is the perfect time to look at how fast swimmers will have to go to earn guaranteed and/or likely NCAA invites this winter.

Many programs give their athletes rest, fast suits and even shave-downs for these mid-season invites. The advantage is that it can allow some swimmers to solidify their NCAA bids early and keep them from having to pull a double taper for a conference meet in February (to qualify for NCAAs) and the NCAA meet in March.

The NCAA invite system is a bit complex. You can read our full primer on it here, but the gist is that an “A” cut will earn you an automatic bid. After that, the next-fastest swimmers in each event get invited until the total participant number (270 for men, 322 for women) is met.

Each year, the cut lines fall in roughly the same place on the psych sheets. Below, we’ve compiled the A cuts in each event, plus the 2017 invite time, or the slowest time that earned an NCAA invite in that event last year. Remember that as the NCAA gets faster each year, the invite times usually get faster as well. But an athlete significantly below these invite times should have a good shot at making NCAAs even if they don’t have an A cut – though an A cut is the only thing that guarantees an invite.

For relays, teams must hit a Qualifying Standard (QS) in any one relay to earn NCAA invites for that relay and any other relays that hit a Provisional Standard (PS).


A Standard 2017 Invite Time Event A Standard 2017 Invite Time
19.05 19.43 50 free 21.8 22.23
42.11 42.76 100 free 47.53 48.62
1:32.54 1:34.20 200 free 1:43.30 1:45.44
4:12.49 4:16.67 500 free 4:36.30 4:41.84
14:40.75 14:56.84 1650 free 15:53.50 16:16.41
45.49 46.1 100 fly 51.19 52.52
1:41.44 1:43.09 200 fly 1:53.80 1:56.60
45.25 46.28 100 back 51.16 52.65
1:39.66 1:41.74 200 back 1:50.99 1:54.00
51.74 52.62 100 breast 58.85 1:00.34
1:52.94 1:54.54 200 breast 2:07.18 2:10:55
1:41.88 1:44.34 200 IM 1:55.00 1:57.66
3:39.95 3:44.92 400 IM 4:04.70 4:10.86


Qualifying Provisional Event Qualifying Provisional
1:17.62 1:18.35 200 free relay 1:28.71 1:29.57
2:52.10 2:53.23 400 free relay 3:15.43 3:16.93
6:20.05 6:23.58 800 free relay 7:03.86 7:07.86
1:24.82 1:25.62 200 medley relay 1:36.89 1:37.51
3:07.46 3:08.95 400 medley relay 3:32.67 3:34.48

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6 years ago

Nearly a 41 to make A cut in the 100 free…

Reply to  Pvdh
6 years ago

Funny – when I saw that I thought, “42.1 looks kind of slow for an A cut”. Of course ten years ago Cielo was the only guy under 42.

6 years ago

Is this the year for back or fly that it takes a 45?

Reply to  Murica
6 years ago

Must be the year for a happy medium where the A time for the 100 back is faster than the 100 fly, but the invite time for the 100 fly is faster than the invite time for the 100 back.

6 years ago

Those A standards are crazy and goes to show how far swimming has come so fast.

6 years ago

How you okay with this blatant sexism?!!??!???!? 52 more girls then boys?!?!?!?!?! lol jk but yeah way is there more girls then boys?

Reply to  50free
6 years ago

The numbers are based off the total number of swimmers in the NCAA. There are more female programs so there are more female swimmers overall, which is why more are invited.

Reply to  Hannah
6 years ago

Incorrect. The disparage in numbers is due to Title IX law which affects both scholarship and the number of NCAA invitees in swimming.

Reply to  Bupwa
6 years ago

I think you guys are actually saying the same thing, in truth.

Reply to  Braden Keith
6 years ago

Either way it sucks. They took a bad situation for girls and turned it into a bad situation for boys. Completely unfair both ways. One of those unintended results that will be hard to correct because some will argue that any tampering with Title IX will be a detriment to women. Me thinks it can be done to satisfy both. But what do i know?

Nathan Smith
Reply to  Bupwa
6 years ago

There are more girls than boys involved in swimming at every level…

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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