With 3rd-Fastest Ever 200 Free, Will Andrew Seliskar Ditch the 400 IM?

by Robert Gibbs 18

November 30th, 2018 College, Pac-12


Andrew Seliskar is nothing if not versatile. During his teen years living in Northern Virginia, where he swam for Nation’s Capital, Seliskar broke records and won championships in both SCY and LCM, everything from the 100 breast national high school record, to the 200 breast national age group record (SCY), to the 200 fly junior world title (and plenty more).

Here’s what we had to say about Seliskar back in 2014 when we ranked him as the #1 recruit in the high school boys class of 2015.

He is primarily a IMer, but he has an incredible range outside of that. His butterfly is the fastest from his class, his backstroke is within the top 3, and his breaststroke is ranked second in the country, and his freestyle is sub 45. This kid is an animal, and he will be a name to watch for many years to come. He is currently a member of the US Junior national team for the 100 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, and 400 IM.

You’ll notice we didn’t mention his 200 free. Sure, if you looked closely enough, the signs were there, and it was reasonable to assume he’d end up on some school’s 4×200 relay, but the focus was on his other events, especially in terms of a NCAA Day 2 (now Day 3) lineup.

And while Seliskar hasn’t exactly struggled over the past three years — he’s made nine individual NCAA A-finals — he’d seemed to stall out a tad, and especially so in long course. Then, this summer he burst (back) on to the long course scene not in the 200 fly, where he was the 2013 FINA World Junior Champion, or in the 200 IM, where he once broke a 15-16 NAG that previously belonged to a certain Michael Phelps, but rather in the 200 freestyle. He won the event at this summer’s Nationals, then almost perfectly repeated his time to take silver at Pan Pacs.

He’d already been putting together some strong 200 free swims on the college side of things, culminating in a 1:31.23 leading off the Bears’ 4×200 relay at last season’s NCAA championships, a time that moved him up to 7th all-time.

Fast forward to tonight, and Seliskar jumped all the way up to the 3rd-fastest 200 yard freestyle performer in history, passing Simon Burnett, Zach Apple, Dean Farris, and Dylan Carter with a time of 1:30.86. That’s the first time anyone has ever cracked 1:31 outside of the NCAA championships, and it puts into sharper relief the question that surely more than a few fans have been asking: should Seliskar forego the 400 IM and swim the 200 free at NCAAs this year?

On one hand, it seems a bit odd to drop an event in which you’re a three-time All-American and are the 6th-fastest performer ever. It’s happened before, with probably the most recent example being Texas’s Will Licon, who dropped the 400 IM his senior to go after the 100 breast, a choice that panned out with a NCAA title in the 100 breast, giving him titles in four different individual races.

However, the 100 breast was also pretty wide open Licon’s senior year. Seliskar, though, would face fellow Virginian Townley Haas, who’s won the race all three years of his college career, and holds the fastest time ever. Could Seliskar beat him? Anything is possible, and Haas certainly hasn’t been looking incredibly sharp this week, although he’s pretty consistent about lurking quietly all season only to unleash monster swims come March.

On the other hand, well, does anyone really like swimming the 400 IM? And even if Seliskar doesn’t beat Haas, he’s looking like a fairly safe bet to finish 2nd, although Farris and Apple aren’t too far off his times. While it feels like Seliskar could have a chance to unseat Abrahm DeVine in the 400 IM, and with Hugo Gonzalez gone, there’s really no one else close to Seliskar’s best time, we’ve seen a lot of variability in that event over the years, and it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see Seliskar slip to 6th or 7th.

Additionally, the Cal men seem to have a little more depth in the 400 IM than in the 200 free right now. Mike Thomas also scored last year for Cal in the 400 IM, and Sean Grieshop placed 17th in prelims. Bryce Mefford did slide into the A-final of the 200 free last year, but he could probably just as easily swim back.

Obviously, a lot could change between now and March that could affect event lineups. But Cal and Texas once again likely to be battling neck-and-neck for the NCAA team title, Cal coach Dave Durden will be crunching the numbers to figure out what’ll be optimal. Either way, fast times in November will help give fans a small taste of what fun appears to be in store come March.

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I think that given Seliskar’s ability to score in just about any event, his lineup will be heavily determined by Cal’s depth in other events at NCAA’s. The quick analysis done here shows that that will probably lead to him swimming the 200 free over the 400IM, as Cal has better depth in the 4IM. Additionally he’s likely to swim 13 races at NCAA’s, so trading 2 400IMs for 2 200 Frees seems like a pretty good option for total meet performance. Additionally, Cal’s depth in other events will likely influence his other individual event swims (He might revisit the 2 fly given that Reece Whitley has a big chance to take the 2 breast title). I doubt he’ll pass… Read more »



Lazelo Cseh swims at the 2036 Olympics

As mentioned by others, I think it will depend on the rest of Cal’s depth in other events, but I really want to see a 400 IM at the end of the season because I think he could explode.

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