College Swimming Roundup
Top Swims, Relays, & Meets of the Week.
COLLEGE SWIMMING ROUNDUP
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🏊♀️ SWIMS OF THE WEEK 🏊🏽♂️
It's Gretchen Walsh's Season - We're just living in it. Apologies to Caeleb Dressel, but we might just be watching the greatest college sprint season ever. We'll get more into the Texas/Virginia extravaganza below, but G Walsh was the overall highlight of both days. The sophomore warmed up Friday with a 23.13 50 Back medley relay leadoff (on a 1:34.33 relay that would have placed 5th at last year's NCAAs). She moved on to blast an otherworldly 21.16 50 Free - demolishing her 21.40 dual meet record from a couple weeks ago and going the fastest time in the nation by over seven tenths. She beat Olympic medal winning IMer Kate Douglass in the 100 IM by almost a second to log the fastest Women's SCY 100 IM in history in 52.09, and anchored what has to be the fastest mixed SCY 400 free relay in history in 46.20.
Let's take a breath here.
Saturday, she led off Virginia's 400 Medley Relay in a 50.60 - while the relay was DQd, her leg was legal so should count for the top swim in the nation this year (and a new dual meet record for her by .01). She followed that up with a 47.11 100 Free - again, the fastest time in the nation and an all-time dual meet/unsuited record (over another noted Olympian Simone Manuel's 47.38). After all that, her 21.34 leadoff on the meet-ending 200 Free Relay almost seems...too easy.
Florida vs. Tennessee - The Gators comfortably defeated the visiting Vols on both sides. Ekaterina Nikonova, who showed up 2nd semester last year from Russia, is going to have a coming out party this year. She crushed her 2 Free in an impressive 1:45.7 which is almost faster than what she went last year (1:44.8). Plus, she's been 1:54.5 in SCM. Josh Liendo (19.34) took down Jordan Crooks (19.58) in the hyped up 50 Free. The Men's 100 Free was even closer, with UT's Brazilian freshman Gui Caribe (43.00) touching out Mac McDuff (43.03). They both led off their respective 400 Free Relays and McDuff (43.40) got revenge by .09.
Watch out for Duffman come year end — I think he's ready to level up.
D3 Shootout in Chicago - Not content to let D1 and the SMU Classic have all the fun with the one-swimmer-per-team-per-heat invite format, University of Chicago hosted a D3 version with a number of top teams, and some sparks flew. Three schools put out women's 200 medley relays that would have qualified for NCAAs last year in the first event - Pomona Pitzer, led by Alex Gill's 27.82 breast split, UChicago with Ioanna Georgopoulou's 26.43 back split, and Hope College with Laurel Wasiniak's 22.95 anchor - and the meet was off to the races. Other highlights - Trinity freshman Neely Burns's 4:23.64 400 IM would have made the 2022 NCAA A final. Gill (1:01.93), St. Catherine's Jordyn Wentzel, and UChicago's Alicia Soosai and Julia Luo put up 4 of the top 5 times in the nation in the 100 breast. WashU's Alex McCormick won the men's 200 back in 1:47.08, the best time in the nation and only a second and a half off his 5th place NCAA finish from 2022. UChicago's offered up a balanced mens' 3:17.30 400 Medley Relay (49.93/55.08/47.62/44.67) that would have qualified for NCAAs last year.
McKendree Wins Clash of D2 Men's Favorites - We've been talking about it all year, but the Queens and Lindenwood departure to D1 has left a bit of a power void in D2 swimming. Two of the favorites to fill that void on the men's side met on Friday night in O'Fallon, IL. McKendree nipped UIndy on the last relay to win 151-145, though it has to be noted that Indy's best breaststroker Liki Prema and distance/IM guy Cedric Buessing stayed in Indy for the World Cup. Regardless, McKendree sophomore Jack Lustig cemented his hold on the D2 men's butterfly scene. He roared to season- and nation-bests of 47.82/1:44.77. The relays were the other major highlight times for this meet, something we've come to expect from these two incredibly deep teams. In the opening 200 medley relay, Indy popped the top time in the nation with a 1:28.25 (splitting 22.32/24.83/21.73/19.37(!)), with McKendree right behind in 1:29.03 (splits not available). The Bearcats got the edge in the closing 400 Free Relay for the event and meet win with a 45.91/44.55/44.49/44.26 split 2:59.21 over the Greyhounds' 2:59.56 (45.06/44.60/45.68/44.22).
🏊🏼 RELAY(S) OF THE WEEK 🏊♀️
Liberty Women's 400 Medley Relay
Liberty took on Arkansas Friday night, and while the SEC team got the expected overall result over the CCSA team, this relay popped out for the Flames' ladies. At last year's CCSA champs, Liberty finished third with a 3:41.46 - so, amazingly, this is already over two seconds faster than their best suited and tapered relay last year, and would have placed a close second to Florida Gulf Coast's winning relay. Leadoff Abbie Shaw, already possibly Liberty's best swimmer, hit a PB 100 back here, and anchor Eva Suggs was more than half a second faster than her CCSA relay split.
🏊🏽♂️ MEET OF THE WEEK 🏊🏼
Texas vs. Virginia Extravaganza
We hyped it up, and this meet delivered. Maybe the fastest college dual meet of all time. We did a deep dive into Gretchen Walsh's performance above, but there were good swims all over the place. Texas aimed for Friday's session to mimic an ISL meet, with intros, 100 IMs, a mixed relay, and a relatively huge crowd. Saturday's meet was more standard format. Of note, the women competed in practice suits while the men geared up in tech suits. Some of the eye-openers:
200 medley relays: After the UVA women blasted their 1:34 (23.13/26.84/22.60/21.76), Texas and UVA men respectively popped 1:23.83 (21.37/23.55/20.08/18.83) and 1:24.09 (21.64/23.20/20.32/18.93). Texas went with grad transfer Will Chan on the breast leg and gave usual breaststroker Caspar Corbeau a chance on the fly leg, and he delivered with a 20.08. Texas's success in matching up with Cal this year is going to depend on these types of moves - Corbeau in particular is going to have to step up with this fly leg, plus functioning as a #2/#3 sprinter for the free relays.
Kelly Pash followed up her showing at the World Cup with a 1:44.78 200 Free to be the first woman under 1:45 this season. She added a 47.72 100 Free split in the mixed 400 Free Relay, a 1:54.38 200 Fly behind only teammate Dakota Luther's 1:53.83 top time in the nation, and 53.88/1:57.75 IMs.
Texas men's vaunted long free group was in top form. Luke Hobson went 1:32.74/4:17.91 with a 42.5 mixed free relay split and 1:45.99 200 Fly for good measure, David Johnston went 1:35.71/4:14.54/8:46.06 with a 2:00 200 breast, and freshman Alec Enyeart continued his rise with a 4:16.29/8:53.84, of which the 500 was a PB.
The 100 breasts showcased how deep both of these teams are. Texas women went 1-3 with Anna Elendt (58.14) and Lydia Jacoby (58.96), which UVA took 2-4 with Alex Walsh (58.95) and Zoe Skirboll (1:00.09). The men's side had 4 guys under 53 - Corbeau led the way with a 51.30, Noah Nichols went 51.74, Jake Foster 52.36, and Max Iida 52.94.
🏊🏽♂️ WEEKEND PREVIEW 🏊🏼
Bit of a quieter weekend coming up, the calm before the storm of midseason invites.
The biggest D1 meet of the weekend is Notre Dame vs Louisville. The men's meet is two teams seemingly on different trajectories - Louisville graduated a legendary class led by Nick Albeiro and is trying to find their new identity, while Notre Dame has loaded up with strong sprint classes over the past couple years and returns distance stud Jack Hoagland from injury though still has a couple holes to fill. The women's meet offers another chance to watch Louisville's Gabi Albeiro and Notre Dame's Coleen Gillilan.
There's one early midseason invite going on - Southern Illinois hosts the A3 Performance Invitational in Carbondale. SIU is quietly building a strong MAC team and we could see some strong performances there. Watch out for Ruard van Renan, who made an appearance at the Indy World Cup last weekend with 24.24/51.50 SCM backstrokes, as well as Donat Csuvarszki, who anchored their 2022 MAC champion 200 Free Relay in 18.96.
The Ivy League is also ramping up - every single team has at least one meet this weekend. We'll be looking to see how the Harvard men are reloading without Dean Farris, Raphael Marcoux, and Mahlon Reihman.
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