Men’s NCAA Division I Championships: 3 Challengers For IM American Record Holders

Dan Wallace Men's NCAA Division I championships
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the NCAA Division I Championships is sponsored by Nike Swim.

Commentary by Jeff Commings

TUCSON – On paper, it would seem that David Nolan has secured the 200 IM title at the men’s NCAA Division I championships, and Chase Kalisz is the solid leader for the 400 IM win. But the NCAA meet is all about surprises, and nothing is certain until the race is over.

Last year, Kalisz had no challengers on his way to breaking the American and NCAA record in the 400 IM, but his challengers in 2015 have had a year to visualize beating him (though Kalisz also has had a year to get better). As for Nolan, it would seem illogical to think that anyone in the current lineup has a chance at coming close to posting a 1:40-low or 1:39 in the 200 IM, but the emotions behind a championship race often produce the unthinkable.

Below, we present two challengers to Kalisz’s throne in the 400 IM, and the one person who seems to have the best chance to take down Nolan in the 200 IM in Iowa.

Josh Prenot

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The California junior has been performing well in the 400 IM this season, putting up four solid 400 IMs in two dual meets and two championship meets. Prenot was 3:38.58 in last year’s 400 IM final, and has been improving his weak strokes this season with the aim of staying within striking distance of Kalisz. Prenot specializes in breaststroke, and the two could put together some epic sub-1:00 splits there to separate themselves from the field. We will see how Prenot’s freestyle matches up to Kalisz’s, but if Prenot wants to be in the hunt, he’ll have to have an aggressive first 200 yards without expending too much energy.

Dan Wallace

Photo Courtesy: Daniel Farr

Photo Courtesy: Daniel Farr

Wallace gained a bit of celebrity in his native Scotland when he won the Commonwealth Games title in the 400 IM last summer. The thrill of winning for your country – and ranking eighth in the world for 2014 – was likely a major motivator for Wallace in his senior season at Florida. Wallace has been in the hunt for this 400 IM title for three years, and wants to end his collegiate career with an upset of major proportions. Like Prenot, Wallace will need to have an aggressive opening 200 yards, playing to his strengths. Wallace has the potential to outsplit Kalisz on freestyle, so Wallace will need to swim tough on breaststroke and not let Kalisz overtake him by much.

Chase Kalisz

Chase Kalisz

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

If Kalisz can beat David Nolan in the 200 IM, the race for the 400 IM will be a one-man show. The confidence that Kalisz could take from trumping the American record holder will be enormous, and Kalisz will have to swim the race of his life in order to get into the 1:40-low range. Kalisz’s downfall for years has been his backstroke, and if that has improved this year, he has a sliver of hope. Kalisz is likely to only outsplit Nolan on breaststroke, but if the two are tied going into freestyle, the race will be a toss-up. Kalisz’s endurance will help him in the closing stages of the race. He will need to tap into his inner sprinter and challenge for the lead in the opening 100.

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Bill Bell
Bill Bell
9 years ago

Outside smoker in 200 IM…Michigan’s Dylan Bosch, and that goes double for the 200 fly, Mr. “JC.”

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