By Emily Sampl//Contributor | Tuesday, March 20, 2018
The stage is set for the 2018 Men’s Division I NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, which get underway tomorrow in Minneapolis. Here’s a look at the top teams and swimmers to watch in this week’s meet.
Stanford (CSCAA Ranking: 1st; 2017 Finish: 5th)
The Stanford men’s team will look to match their female counterparts and give the Cardinal a sweep of this year’s NCAA championship titles. The distance freestyle events will be Stanford’s best friend this week, as sophomore Grant Shoults is seeded to make multiple event finals, with the fifth-best seed in both the 500 free and 1650 free. Teammates True Sweetser and Johannes Calloni join him in the mile as potential scoring threats, in addition to Liam Egan in the 500. After a breakout summer, junior Abrahm DeVine can make a statement in the 200 IM, where he’s seeded third, and the 200 back, where he’s 12th. He’ll also swim the 400 IM and will need to drop some time to make finals. In his final NCAA meet, Curtis Ogren will look to move up the standings in the 200 IM (29th) and 400 IM (eighth), as will Andrew Liang (100 fly, 14th). Stanford will have to move up significantly in the relays in order to have a chance at a top team placing.
California (CSCAA Ranking: 2nd; 2017 Finish: 2nd)
Cal has plenty of weapons in its arsenal as usual and will take aim at the squad’s first team title since 2014 and fourth overall since 2011. Returning veterans Andrew Seliskar (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 breast), Matthew Josa (200 IM and 100 fly) and Justin Lynch (50 free and 100 fly) will be counted upon to put up big points for the Bears in their individual events and in the relays. Connor Hoppe (100 breast), Nicholas Norman (1650 free) and Zheng Wen Quah (200 fly) could make a big splash as well with championship final seedings in each of their best individual events. Cal has a bunch of underclassmen in great position to score points at their first NCAA meet, with freshmen Ryan Hoffer, Sean Grieshop, Daniel Carr, Trenton Julian and Bryce Mefford all within striking distance of multiple individual event finals.
Indiana (CSCAA Ranking: 3rd; 2017 Finish: 7th)
After finishing seventh last year, Indiana could be a surprise threat to make the top three this season. With no relay titles in at least 20 years, the Hoosiers enter the meet with the top time in the 800 free relay and 400 medley relay, and top eight seeds in the remaining three. Breaststrokers Ian Finnerty and Levi Brock have a chance to score huge points in both the 100 and 200; Finnerty is seeded first in both, while Brock is second in the 100 and seventh in the 200. Junior Vinicius Lanza could be one of the top point scorers of the entire meet as he’s seeded no lower than fourth in his three individual events (200 IM, 100 fly and 200 fly), including the top seed in the 200 fly. Olympian Blake Pieroni will be a major factor on the Hoosier relays, and in the individual 50, 100 and 200 free as well.
Florida (CSCAA Ranking: 4th; 2017 Finish: 3rd)
Senior Caeleb Dressel leads the way for the Gators, as he could become the first swimmer in NCAA history to sweep the 50 free with four straight titles. He currently holds the NCAA and American record at 18.20, which he set in 2016. He’ll also swim the 100 free and 100 fly, both of which he won last year as well. Meanwhile, senior Mark Szaranek has a chance to add a couple more individual titles to his resume, with the second best time in both the 200 and 400 IM and fourth-best 200 breast coming into the meet. Teammate Jan Switkowski should contribute major points as well with top eight seeds in the 200 IM and 100 fly. Florida should garner major points in the relays and has a shot at a couple of relay wins.
Texas (CSCAA Rank: 6th; 2017 Finish: 1st)
The three-time defending NCAA champion Texas Longhorns may be on the outside looking in as they go for their fourth consecutive team title, as the team enters the meet ranked sixth by the College Swim Coaches Association of America. The Longhorns will rely on big points from a handful of top swimmers, as senior Joseph Schooling aims to go out on top in the 100 fly and 200 fly and junior Townley Haas looks to move up in the 200 and 500 free. Tate Jackson and Brett Ringgold give the team a much-needed boost in the sprint free events, as both are seeded no lower than 10th in both individual events. Freshman Austin Katz could cement himself as one of the best rookies of the meet, entering with the seventh-best 100 back time and top seeded 200 back time.
Others to Watch: Hugo Gonzalez, Auburn (200 IM, 400 IM), Ryan Held, North Carolina State (50 free, 100 fly, 100 free), Felix Auboeck, Michigan (500 free, 200 free, 1650 free)