Jake Magahey Uses Stellar Back Half to Win First NCAA Title in 500 Free

jake-magahey
Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

Georgia freshman Jake Magahey used an incredible back half and showed tremendous poise to score an upset in the 500 freestyle with a 4:07.97, holding off a hard charging Kieran Smith at 4:08.07 while Arizona’s Brooks Fail snuck in to third at 4:09.54.

In a race that was dominated, and we mean dominated on the front half by Cal’s Trenton Julian, who flipped at the 200 at 1:36.45 and looked to steal the race from lane seven, while the other favorites, Magahey, Smith and Drew Kibler were caught looking at each other.

Julian nearly stole the race and looked to have it wrapped up, but hit a wall of pain at the 400 at 3:18.14 with Magahey pushing. Florida’s Smith, who has the American record in this, backed off the pace on the front half in hopes of running down the leaders but ran out of room, splitting under 25 seconds on his final three 50’s, and finished second at 4:08.07.

Smith was out uncharacteristically slow, as he had come out of the 200 free relay a few minutes prior where the Gators finished second overall, but made his move late, and it wasn’t enough to win his first individual NCAA title. He will be the top seed in the 200 freestyle tomorrow.

Texas’ Kibler, who was in the running for the lead early on, finished fifth at 4:10.04 behind Julian (4:09.78) in fourth. Arizona’s Fail is now ranked 15th all-time in the 500 freestyle.

“I saw Trenton went out fast. In that situation, they either hold on, or they die, so I just swam my own race. I usually build throughout the race, just getting faster as I go, and eventually I caught him,” Jake Magahey said after the race. “The last 50, I saw (Kieran) start picking it up. At that point, you just have to swim your heart out. It means a lot. I have watched NCAAs my whole life. It is something I have dreamed of, and I honestly can’t even believe it.”

Magahey is the current national high school record holder in the 500 freestyle and in just one year of college is the NCAA champion. Before the meet, Magahey told Swimming World he was looking forward to the 500 freestyle the most in a rematch with Florida’s Smith as well as the rest of the field that was set to make this a fast event.

“The 500 will be exciting,” Magahey said before the meet. “I want to see if I can go down to 4:06 again and if I can top that. I think it was a pretty perfect race (at SECs) but I definitely can replicate it or go even faster. I am excited to see how that goes.”

Florida’s Bobby Finke (4:11.11), California’s Sean Grieshop (4:11.82) and NC State’s Ross Dant (4:12.37) also raced in the championship final.

Magahey has now won Georgia’s third NCAA title in the 500 freestyle as he joins Sebastien Rouault (2008) and Martin Grodzki (2012) as winners of the event for the Bulldogs.

It is also worth noting that Magahey is the first NCAA champ in the 500 freestyle to not lead from the front since Conor Dwyer won in 2010 by 0.01, which is the closest margin this race was won by in the event’s history.

Listen to Jake Magahey’s interview below:

Event 3  Men 500 Yard Freestyle
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 4:06.32  2/19/2020 Kieran Smith, Florida
         Meet: M 4:08.19  3/28/2019 Townley Haas, Texas
     American: A 4:06.32  2/19/2020 Kieran Smith, Florida
   U. S. Open: O 4:06.32  2/19/2020 Kieran Smith, Florida
         Pool: P 4:09.36  3/25/2021 Jake Magahey, Georgia
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 Magahey, Jake          FR Georgia           4:09.36    4:07.97M  20  
    r:+0.73  22.79        47.86 (25.07)
        1:13.12 (25.26)     1:38.45 (25.33)
        2:03.74 (25.29)     2:28.88 (25.14)
        2:53.92 (25.04)     3:19.11 (25.19)
        3:43.96 (24.85)     4:07.97 (24.01)
  2 Smith, Kieran          JR Florida           4:11.03    4:08.07M  17  
    r:+0.72  22.91        48.00 (25.09)
        1:13.28 (25.28)     1:38.67 (25.39)
        2:04.20 (25.53)     2:29.80 (25.60)
        2:55.37 (25.57)     3:20.23 (24.86)
        3:44.80 (24.57)     4:08.07 (23.27)
  3 Fail, Brooks           SR Arizona           4:09.41    4:09.54   16  
    r:+0.72  23.19        48.22 (25.03)
        1:13.63 (25.41)     1:38.86 (25.23)
        2:04.14 (25.28)     2:29.61 (25.47)
        2:54.91 (25.30)     3:20.24 (25.33)
        3:45.14 (24.90)     4:09.54 (24.40)
  4 Julian, Trenton        SR California        4:11.60    4:09.78   15  
    r:+0.63  22.15        46.27 (24.12)
        1:11.28 (25.01)     1:36.45 (25.17)
        2:01.87 (25.42)     2:27.18 (25.31)
        2:52.47 (25.29)     3:18.14 (25.67)
        3:44.12 (25.98)     4:09.78 (25.66)
  5 Kibler, Drew           JR Texas             4:11.52    4:10.04   14  
    r:+0.62  22.19        47.03 (24.84)
        1:12.35 (25.32)     1:37.73 (25.38)
        2:02.98 (25.25)     2:28.20 (25.22)
        2:53.96 (25.76)     3:19.53 (25.57)
        3:45.17 (25.64)     4:10.04 (24.87)
  6 Finke, Bobby           JR Florida           4:12.37    4:11.11   13  
    r:+0.74  23.25        48.39 (25.14)
        1:13.97 (25.58)     1:39.54 (25.57)
        2:05.18 (25.64)     2:30.68 (25.50)
        2:56.09 (25.41)     3:21.47 (25.38)
        3:46.77 (25.30)     4:11.11 (24.34)
  7 Grieshop, Sean         SR California        4:11.12    4:11.82   12  
    r:+0.67  22.91        48.22 (25.31)
        1:13.80 (25.58)     1:39.28 (25.48)
        2:04.73 (25.45)     2:30.18 (25.45)
        2:55.70 (25.52)     3:21.17 (25.47)
        3:46.70 (25.53)     4:11.82 (25.12)
  8 Dant, Ross             SO NC State          4:12.34    4:12.37   11  
    r:+0.61  22.95        48.17 (25.22)
        1:13.57 (25.40)     1:39.01 (25.44)
        2:04.52 (25.51)     2:30.11 (25.59)
        2:55.82 (25.71)     3:21.44 (25.62)
        3:47.10 (25.66)     4:12.37 (25.27)
 
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
 
  9 Yeadon, Zach           SR California        4:12.96    4:11.37    9  
    r:+0.78  23.07        47.78 (24.71)
        1:12.90 (25.12)     1:38.31 (25.41)
        2:03.89 (25.58)     2:29.52 (25.63)
        2:55.18 (25.66)     3:20.88 (25.70)
        3:46.41 (25.53)     4:11.37 (24.96)
 10 Hoagland, Jack         SO Notre Dame        4:12.40    4:12.13    7  
    r:+0.74  23.19        48.49 (25.30)
        1:14.07 (25.58)     1:39.79 (25.72)
        2:05.51 (25.72)     2:31.04 (25.53)
        2:56.96 (25.92)     3:22.66 (25.70)
        3:47.99 (25.33)     4:12.13 (24.14)
 11 Freeman, Trey          SO Florida           4:12.61    4:12.21    6  
    r:+0.69  23.22        48.49 (25.27)
        1:13.84 (25.35)     1:39.48 (25.64)
        2:05.38 (25.90)     2:31.28 (25.90)
        2:57.06 (25.78)     3:22.74 (25.68)
        3:48.01 (25.27)     4:12.21 (24.20)
 12 Shoults, Grant         SR Stanford          4:12.85    4:13.20    5  
    r:+0.65  22.95        48.68 (25.73)
        1:14.79 (26.11)     1:40.79 (26.00)
        2:06.66 (25.87)     2:32.37 (25.71)
        2:57.90 (25.53)     3:23.46 (25.56)
        3:48.60 (25.14)     4:13.20 (24.60)
 13 Callan, Patrick        JR Michigan          4:13.92    4:13.49    4  
    r:+0.67  22.98        48.39 (25.41)
        1:13.77 (25.38)     1:39.50 (25.73)
        2:05.31 (25.81)     2:31.43 (26.12)
        2:57.34 (25.91)     3:23.31 (25.97)
        3:48.84 (25.53)     4:13.49 (24.65)
 14 Mestre, Alfonso        SO Florida           4:14.10    4:14.97    3  
    r:+0.73  22.77        47.99 (25.22)
        1:13.59 (25.60)     1:39.44 (25.85)
        2:05.46 (26.02)     2:31.42 (25.96)
        2:57.77 (26.35)     3:24.21 (26.44)
        3:50.17 (25.96)     4:14.97 (24.80)
 15 Zettle, Alex           JR Texas             4:13.01    4:15.54    2  
    r:+0.77  23.31        48.60 (25.29)
        1:14.26 (25.66)     1:40.08 (25.82)
        2:06.10 (26.02)     2:31.96 (25.86)
        2:57.96 (26.00)     3:24.04 (26.08)
        3:50.05 (26.01)     4:15.54 (25.49)
 16 Larson, Johnthomas     SR Texas             4:13.40    4:16.13    1  
    r:+0.62  23.12        48.31 (25.19)
        1:13.85 (25.54)     1:39.78 (25.93)
        2:05.70 (25.92)     2:31.71 (26.01)
        2:57.94 (26.23)     3:24.33 (26.39)
        3:50.64 (26.31)     4:16.13 (25.49)
Men - Team Rankings - Through Event 3                  
 
  1. California                        110 
  2. Florida                           103
  3. Texas                              83 
  4. Georgia                            76
  5. NC State                           61 
  6. Texas A&M                          60
  7. Indiana                            36 
  8. Louisville                         34
  9. Alabama                            32 
  9. Virginia                           32
 11. Stanford                           29 
 12. Arizona                            28
 13. Virginia Tech                      24 
 14. Michigan                           22
 15. Purdue                             14 
 16. Notre Dame                          9
 17. Penn St                             8 
 18. Ohio St                             6
 19. Florida St                          4 
 19. Missouri                            4