NCAA D1 Men's Champs: Bob Bowman leads Arizona State to Victory

Leon Marchand and Josh Liendo both won 3 events.

swimnerd logo


🏊‍♀️ SWIMS OF THE WEEK 🏊🏽‍♂️

NCAA Division I Men’s Championships

Here it is, the final meet of the 2023-2024 NCAA season - and it was a doozy.

Lets start with the big winners. In 2008, Arizona State was facing budget issues. The athletic department announced the upcoming elimination of the swimming, wrestling, and tennis teams. But a grassroots effort led by swim team alumni and the team itself kept the program afloat until a permanent endowment was established in 2014. Then in 2015, the Sun Devils hired Bob Bowman, legendary coach of the greatest Olympic swimmer in history, Michael Phelps. If you can believe it, this wasn’t seen as a slam-dunk hire at the time: he had coached Michigan to good-but-not-great results from 2005-2008, with murmurings that he was spending more effort on international results from his Olympians (read: Phelps, who went pro instead of competing in the NCAA) than college results. ASU began climbing the ranks, seeing incrementally better results nearly every year, until exploding the past few years with star Frenchman Leon Marchand, a swimmer as close to taking the mantle of Phelps as anyone has ever been since the man himself.

That history culminated this past week with the Sun Devils, again led by Marchand, storming to their first national title. They took control on Day 2 of the meet, powered by Marchand’s jaw-dropping 4:02.31 500 free NCAA record, and didn’t look back from there.

2024 Swimmer of the Year Marchand also compiled a 3:32.14 400 IM and 1:46.35 (NCAA record) 200 breast win, plus a 1:28.97 200 free relay leadoff that at the time was the NCAA record, a 40.28 100 free relay leadoff that sits #3 of all time, and 22.59/48.73 breaststroke relay splits (the latter fastest of all time). ASU broke NCAA records in the 400 medley (2:57.32 - Kos 44.61/Marchand 48.73/Kharun 43.44/Kulow 40.54) and 400 free relays (2:43.40 - Marchand 40.28/Dolan 41.28/Sammon 41.02/Kulow 40.82) and collected other event wins courtesy of freshman Ilya Kharun (1:38.26 200 fly) and Zalan Sarkany (14:30.57 1650). Mostly, though, they won with suffocating depth, scoring at least 2 men in every event but the 100 fly and 100 breast.

The battle for second looked to be a fight between Florida and Cal until a 400 medley relay false start by the Gators took some of the steam out of that race, but Josh Liendo wasn’t going to be denied a historic meet anyway. Following the footsteps of another great Gator sprinter Caeleb Dressel, Liendo swept the 50 (18.07) and 100 (40.20) free and 100 fly (43.07), the latter two 2nd fastest of all time behind aforementioned Dressel. That 100 was one heck of a race, with 5 men finishing under 41 seconds.

Florida also got wins in the 200 medley relay (1:20.15 - Chaney 20.29/Smith 22.55/Liendo 18.97/McDuff 18.34) and 200 free relay (1:13.49 - Liendo 18.25/Chaney 18.29/Smith 18.51/McDuff 18.44), the former in NCAA record time, and their 2-3 PR finish in the mile (Gio Linscheer 14:36.01/freshman Andrew Taylor 14:37.80) allowed them to hold off Indiana and their powerful dive squad for 3rd.

Runners-up Cal, meanwhile, led off the meet with a huge NCAA record 800 free relay. After Marchand’s at-the-time 200 free record leading off against Gabriel Jett (a still-impressive 1:30.32), Destin Lasco (1:29.60) reeled in Hubert Kos, Jack Alexy (1:30.50) extended the lead, and Robin Hanson (1:31.84) held off the Sun Devils for an NCAA record 6:02.26 finish. They also got NCAA records from Lasco, who had come within tenths before but blew through the 200 back record, splitting an insane 47.47/47.90 for a 1:35.37 finish; and from Liam Bell who dropped a second in his fifth year season in the 100 breast for a 49.53, winning by over a second - he also hit the fastest 50 breast split in history with a 22.25.

Lasco also broke the American record in the 200 IM with a 1:37.91 win, his first title in the event after matching up with Shaine Casas and Marchand his first 3 years.

Another NCAA record came from Texas’s Luke Hobson. After an uneven fall semester followed up by 3 bronze medals at February’s World Champs, we weren’t sure what we were going to get from the defending 200/500 free champ. That 800 free relay provided a foretaste, as Hobson took the race out like a madman, faded late (20.28/21.83/22.86/24.16) but still managed a 1:29.13 that stood as a new NCAA record until Marchand in the next heat. He snagged second in the 500 free the next day in a new 4:06.93 PR which showed that 200 free strategy didn’t affect his legs too much. His 1:29.75 prelims 200 free used a more conservative strategy, and finally in the final he unleashed his best form - splitting 20.82/22.51/22.71/22.74 for a 1:28.81, out back-halfing Jack Alexy, who’s 1:29.75 made the first race ever with two sub-1:30s.

Eddie Reese’s final NCAA champs went like so many others before it, with elite middle-distance free performances.

The final championship was won by Indiana’s Brendan Burns, who took his second consecutive 100 back title and second consecutive outside smoke in the race with a 43.86 win from lane 1.

His emphatic win (check that strut!) was the culmination of a three-year rivalry with NC State runner-up Kacper Stokowski and third place Florida’s Adam Chaney, with the three finishing in the top 4 and within tenths of each other from 2022-2024. Coupled with a historic diving performance from Carson Tyler (winning the 3m and platform with a 2nd in the 1m) and strong meets from Rafael Miroslaw and Tomer Frankel, Burns’s efforts gave the Hoosiers the final team podium spot.

Other historic and impressive swims:

  • NC State put up some historic backstroke times leading off relays. Aiden Hayes blasted a 20.07 50 back, the fastest in history, while Kacper Stokowski put up the fastest 100 back at the meet with a 43.59 400 medley relay leadoff, the #3 swim in history.

  • Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano and ASU’s Jonny Kulow joined the small group of sub-18 50 free relay splits. Kulow hit 17.94 anchoring the 200 medley relay, while Guiliano hit the same time in the 200 free relay. Guiliano continued his history of making improvements literally every time he tapers, making three A-finals for the first time in his career and compiling 18.43/40.66/1:30.36, the 50 and 200 PRs, the 100 a mere .04 off.

  • Big week for mid-majors and D3 transfers. Towson’s Brian Benzing followed the footsteps of Jack Saunderson as Tigers to make NCAA A-finals - he finished 2nd in the 100 breast in 50.59. Tanner Filion, a transfer to Notre Dame from D3 Whitman College, smashed through the 1:41 and 1:40 barriers in the 200 back to score with a 1:39.16.

And that’s a wrap on the 2023-2024 NCAA season - definitely one for the record books. As always, thanks for following along, and the input from those that take the time to drop us a line.

Meet Mobile Got You Down?

Then you need Swimnerd Live!

Swimnerd Live…

  1. Creates a custom, virtual scoreboard overlay for your live stream.

  2. Creates an interactive heat sheet on the web. Like Meet Mobile but LIVE and free to your fans.

  3. Turn TV’s and projectors into physical scoreboards.

Compatible with Superior Swim Timing, Colorado 5, 6, 7 Legacy, Daktronics, Omega, Meet Manager, Team Unify, and Sportsys.

Put the live scoreboard in everyone’s pockets with Swimnerd Live!