Five Races to Watch at 2020 Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships

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What does Ohio State have for an encore after winning their first women's title since 1986? Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships

Bloomington, Indiana 2020

The Big Ten men’s swimming and diving championships highlight the second week of the Division I conference championships as it is expected to be a dog fight between three-time defending champions Indiana and perennial powerhouse Michigan. The Big Ten is a unique conference that in all of the conference realignment the past couple of years, the men’s Big Ten scene has somehow remained intact with the same ten teams battling it out every year since 1994.

The conference has not added or dropped a men’s swim team since before any of the athletes competing this weekend were born, making these championships one built on tradition and familiarity.

The Big Ten men’s swimming and diving championships will be held in Bloomington, Indiana as the three-time defending champs Hoosiers will look to win a fourth straight in their home pool, much like their women did last year. But after Michigan and Indiana, it seems to be wide open for third place and beyond. Ohio State won the women’s title last week, so they will likely be on another level for the men’s meet. But Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all kind of jumbled together in that second tier and it will certainly be an exciting aspect of the meet to see who gets out on top.

Finals will begin Wednesday night with the two relays at 5:00 p.m. EST while the rest of the weekend’s finals will begin at 6:30 p.m. each night.

Swimming World’s Big Ten Personality Features:

Here is a preview of the meet with our five must watch races of the Big Ten Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships weekend.

500 Free

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Michigan’s Felix Auböck will be looking to help Michigan win the Big Ten men’s swimming and diving championships. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Why watch? To see how many guys Michigan can get into the A-Final. It’s not a Big Ten championships without at least four guys repping the maize and blue in the 500 free A-Final. The last time Michigan hosted the men’s meet in 2014, they had SIX in the A-Final in this event back when Connor Jaeger was the top man. The Wolverines will likely not score six up, but four up is a definite possibility.

After what we saw last week at SEC’s when Kieran Smith tore apart the record books in this event, how will the rest of the country respond? Will that push someone else to go a 4:08 or faster? Michigan senior Felix Auböck is the three-time defending champ and going for the clean sweep in this event, but will have some pressure from teammates Ricardo Vargas and Patrick Callan.

Callan actually has the top time in the conference this season with a 4:12 and very well could be the star of the future for the Wolverines. Can Indiana’s Mikey Calvillo break up the Michigan party as the fourth seed? If he at least breaks into the top three, it could be a huge win for the Hoosiers, regardless if he touches first or not.

400 IM

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Michigan’s Charlie Swanson. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Why watch? To see what kind of swim Charlie Swanson can put together in yards after his 4:11 at the Pan American Games.

Michigan has an equally impressive 400 IM tradition compared to what they have historically in the 500. Swanson is the second fastest in the conference right now behind fellow senior Tommy Cope and is also a spot ahead of junior teammate Will Roberts. Do the Wolverines have what it takes to go 1-2-3 again? Or can someone behind them break up the party?

Michigan will need to capitalize on their dominant events if they are to get their championship back that they last won in 2016. Swanson and Cope are both seniors and watched Indiana jump into the pool at the end of each year at Big Ten’s. It would be a sweet ending to their college careers if they can turn the tables in Indiana’s home pool.

100 Breast

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Minnesota’s Max McHugh. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Why watch? Three of the top eight guys in the country are in the Big Ten, including the nation’s leader in Minnesota sophomore Max McHugh.

McHugh was second last year to Indiana’s Ian Finnerty, who has since moved on to the professional ranks. All seven other guys from last year’s final return this year, including McHugh and Indiana’s Zane Backes who were both All-Americans in this event as freshmen. Add in Michigan’s Jeremy Babinet and Purdue’s Trent Pellini, who are both ranked in the top eight nationally at the moment. Add in Northwestern freshman Kevin Houseman, who was the World Juniors bronze medalist in this event, and this is a can’t miss race on Friday night.

It is very possible it could take under 50 to win and a few other guys might join the party and break 51. It is safe to say that whoever wins the 100 breast this weekend at the Men’s Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships will be the top seed heading into NCAAs in 29 days.

200 Free Relay

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Indiana’s Jack Franzman. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Why watch? Because it is the fastest race of the meet and one bad turn can make or break a race. Indiana and Michigan have the top times in the conference but Iowa, Purdue and Ohio State are right on their heels.

The 200 free relay will not actually be until Friday night as the coaches would rather have it separate from the 50 freestyle on Thursday and thus moved the 400 medley relays away from the 100 stroke events as well. Indiana is the top seed in their home pool led by sophomore Jack Franzman, who always steps up in relays. Senior Mohamed Samy is also expected to be on it for the Hoosiers.

The 200 free relay is always a ferocious race and it can go any number of directions. Michigan is also expected to be a big factor as they have the conference’s top sprinter in Gus Borges. Penn State also has William Roberson and Gabe Castano who are ranked highly in the 50 free. Iowa has three guys ranked in the top ten, and Purdue will be boosted by Nikola Acin, who sat out the first semester with an injury.

There is any number of teams that can win it and it will springboard some momentum for the winning team into the last day of the Big Ten men’s swimming and diving championships.

200 Fly

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Northwestern’s Federico Burdisso. Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

Why watch? To see what Northwestern freshman Federico Burdisso can go in his first yards meet with a jammer on.

Don’t know how good Burdisso is? He was fourth at the World Championships this summer while representing Italy in the 200 butterfly with a 1:54 long course. He made his Northwestern debut in January and has already been a 1:44 in a mid-January duel meet. What does Burdisso have up his sleeve when he puts a suit on? How will that 1:54 translate to short course? Will he even be tapered considering Italian nationals are just around the corner?

There are a lot of questions surrounding Burdisso, but we do know one thing: that he is vey fast. He will likely line up alongside Michigan’s Miles Smachlo, Indiana’s Brendan Burns and Ohio State’s Noah Lense just to name a few names that could factor into the A-Final. If Burdisso is on, he is expected to just dominate the final. But if he is not, then any one of the three guys mentioned above could slip in for the upset win.