Five American Records to Watch this Championship Season

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Kevin Donnelly, Swimming World College Intern.

As the NCAA season begins to wind down and anticipation begins to build for the multitude of conference championships, all culminating with the NCAA Championships themselves, all eyes turn to the pool to watch swimmers achieve some amazing feats in the water. To prepare for the head-turning swims that are to come in February and March, we should turn our heads to the record books and look at which American records are in the most danger come the 2018 championship season.

Today we’ll be counting down five American Records to watch during the 2018 NCAA championship season. Last year’s NCAA Championships alone brought a combined 14 new American records to the record book, and by the looks of the competition so far, this season will be no different.

5. Women’s 100 Breast (Current AR: 56.30, Lilly King)

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Lilly King has been a name known to many in the swimming scene ever since she broke onto the NCAA scene. A junior competing for the Indiana Hoosiers, King has won both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events at both the 2016 and 2017 NCAA Championships, and currently holds the American records in both events as well. King is also the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter breaststroke, and holds the American record in that event as well, setting it at last year’s World Championships at 1:04.13.

It’s abundantly clear that Lilly King is the woman to beat in the 100 breaststroke. While she only ranks third in the event in the NCAA thus far, there is no doubt she will drop a big amount of time from her 59.12 back in November and take a shot at her American record in the coming months.

4. Men’s 100 Fly (Current AR: 43.58, Caeleb Dressel)

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Caeleb Dressel did not compete in the 100 fly at an invitational meet this year, and currently sits 44th in the NCAA with a time of 46.89 from the All-Florida Meet back in September. But given Dressel’s breakthrough into the 100 fly at both last year’s NCAAs, where he demolished the American record on his way to an NCAA title, and his gold medal-winning performance at last year’s World Championships, where he became the first man to break 50 seconds in a textile suit in the event, chances are good we’ll see Dressel back to race for his own record come February and March.

While 2016 Olympic Champion and Texas senior Joseph Schooling may hold Singaporean citizenship and can’t break any American records himself, his presence will no doubt push Dressel in the race for the NCAA title and will create a great atmosphere for a record-breaking performance in the 100 fly at NCAAs.

3. Women’s 400 IM (Current AR: 3:57.57, Ella Eastin)

Currently, the top three ranked swimmers in the women’s 400 IM all represent the Stanford Cardinal. Katie Ledecky leads the way as the sole swimmer under the 4:00 barrier this season, putting up a season-best of 3:59.69 at the Art Adamson Invite back in November. With a best time of 3:57.68 sitting just a tenth away from the current AR, Ledecky looks poised to challenge for the record in the coming months, but will face some challengers in that pursuit.

Ella Eastin set the American Record at last year’s NCAA Championships, and already this season has a time of 4:00.02 to her name, faster than what she was in November of 2016. The 400 IM is her best event and she will look to hold onto her record amidst the other Cardinal challengers.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The other name in the mix for the record is Stanford freshman Brooke Forde, who currently sits third in the NCAA with a personal best time of 4:02.02 from the USA vs. Big Ten Challenge in October. Forde has been 4:02 in the event on four different occasions, and given her training partners could be due for a big breakthrough this winter.

2. Men’s 100 Freestyle (Current AR: 40.00, Caeleb Dressel)

The second Caeleb Dressel AR to appear on this list is also going to be threatened by none other than Dressel himself. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time World Championships gold medalist currently holds the American record in both the 100-yard (40.00) and 100-meter (47.17) free events, and has been unmatchable at the NCAA level in the event, winning the 100 free at both the 2016 and 2017 NCAAs.

The Florida senior looks to be the first man to break the 40 second barrier in the event, and will undoubtedly be motivated by the 40.00 he put up last year at NCAAs. Barrier breaking has been a Dressel specialty as of late, and it is likely to continue here in the 100 free in the coming months.

1. Women’s 1650 Freestyle (Current AR: 15:03.31, Katie Ledecky)

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The women’s 1650 free has really become a race against the clock for Katie Ledecky at the NCAA level, and this year will be no exception. Ledecky broke the American record in the event at the Art Adamson Invite back in November, and currently has more than a 48-second lead on the next-fastest woman in the NCAA in the event. Ledecky now sits less than three-and-a-half seconds from the 15-minute barrier in the mile, a time that would near qualify her for the men’s NCAA Championships.

This will undoubtedly be a tough record, given the 1650 comes near the end of a tough four-day meet, but the motivation to crack 15:00 will definitely be prevalent, and given Katie’s track record, it’s entirely possible we’ll see that barrier fall in the coming months.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.