Men’s NCAA Division I Championships: 3 Serious Title Contenders In Distance Freestyle

DArrigo Ipsen Koski Men's NCAA Division I championships

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

Commentary by Jeff Commings

TUCSON – The 500 and 1650 freestyles at the men’s NCAA Division I championships in Iowa are pretty much wide open. Yes, last year’s 500 champion is back in 2015, but so are the ones who finished second, fourth and sixth. And with Connor Jaeger now continuing his career as a postgrad, the 1650 free does not have a clear frontrunner.

Below are three swimmers who are competing in both events, and have the biggest chances to challenge for a win in both. As is the case at nearly every NCAA championships — and was the case last year when Cristian Quintero upended Jaeger for the 500 free win — anything is possible and someone completely unexpected could come out of nowhere to post an upset.

Andrea “Mitch” D’Arrigo

Mitch D'Arrigo men's ncaa division I championships

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

The Florida sophomore was a part of the championship final of the 200 and 500 freestyles last year as a freshman, and was in the top eight in the mile. He’ll place higher in all three events this year, likely getting into the top three in all of them. In regards to the 500 free, he’s the most serious threat to Southern California’s Cristian Quintero defending his title. D’Arrigo swam a 4:10.77 at the SEC championships, and will have to be just a bit faster in Iowa if he wants to dethrone Quintero. I predict a swim under 4:10 for the winner, but only if the field manages an aggressive opening pace. The 1650 free is becoming a stronger event for D’Arrigo and should he have the confidence to maintain the early pace of some of the more established milers in the field, he could find an extra gear in the end to rally and win there as well.

Anton Ipsen

Anton Ipsen

Photo Courtesy: SwimmingWorld.TV

N.C. State could be one of the few schools to place a swimmer in the top eight of all the freestyle events at the NCAA championships. Ipsen will carry the burden alone for the Wolfpack in the 500 and 1650, but the freshman has been performing admirably all season and should have the confidence to become one of the few freshmen to win a distance freestyle title at the NCAAs. Ipsen is seeded seventh in both events, but the Dane is growing accustomed to short course yards racing with each meet, and that could help him in the final stretches of each race.

Matias Koski

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Koski was third in the 500 free and fourth in the 1650 free as a freshman in 2013, and slipped a bit in 2014. But he’s been swimming stronger this year, and his experience over the rest of the field could be a major bonus for him. Like Quintero, Koski is great in distance and sprint freestyle, and that will help him in both events. With the 500 free starting to become a “long sprint,” Koski should be able to switch into whichever energy system he needs to push the pace and be in the hunt at the end of the race. I see him being the rabbit in the 1650 free, taking a strong lead and doing his best to hold off the negative splitters in the race.

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