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

Leave a Reply

11 Comments on "What Will It Take To Make The 2018 NCAA Championship Meets?"

newest oldest most voted

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

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.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

Read More »