NCAA Men’s Championships: Drew Kibler Lights Up Back Half to Claim 200 Freestyle Crown (VIDEO)

Drew Kibler -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Editorial content for the 2022 NCAA DI Men's Swimming & Diving Championships coverage is sponsored by Swiss Timing. See full event coverage.
Follow Swiss Timing on Instagram at @omega #OMEGAOfficialTimekeeper


NCAA Men’s Championships: Drew Kibler Lights Up Back Half to Claim 200 Freestyle Crown

The University of Texas won its 15th NCAA team title last year without an individual champion. If the Longhorns can claim a 16th crown, they will have been helped by a solo triumph from veteran standout Drew Kibler.

Racing in a stacked field at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Kibler had too much for the opposition over the back half of the race and produced a career-best time of 1:30.28, which was quick enough to fend off Arizona State’s Grant House (1:30.68) and Georgia freshman Matthew Sates (1:30.72). The swim made Kibler the seventh-fastest performer in history.

Heading into four-day meet, the 200 freestyle was touted as a can’t-miss event, with eyes looking for a sub-1:30 performance. While Kibler finished just shy of visiting that unique territory, he did what was needed to keep Texas atop the team standings, and to collect the first individual NCAA title of his impressive collegiate career.

“It means a lot,” said Kibler. “I’ve wanted to be an individual national champion since I started my collegiate career. Always chasing the next goal. I definitely wanted to be a 1:29, join that elite club. I think I swam that race from a pretty tactical position to secure a win. If I went out a little harder, I think I could have gone a 1:29, but I had to do what I did to secure a win for Texas… I wanted it a lot last year, so coming back this year, it was pretty special.”

Kibler arrived at Texas from the powerhouse scholastic program of Carmel High, and he is now his alma mater’s first individual NCAA champion. Throughout his days as a Longhorn, Kibler has done a little bit of everything for the program, excelling from the 50 freestyle up to the 500 free. He even provided some butterfly support at times. But the 200 freestyle has always been his trademark event, and he can now proclaim himself an NCAA titlist in the event.

At the midway point, Kibler trailed only House and LSU’s Brooks Curry, but he had overtaken those foes by the 150-yard mark and continued to pull away over the last 50 yards. Kibler put together a back half of 46.24, which was the fastest in the final, .02 quicker than what Sates managed. Given Sates’ closing ability, it was a tremendous effort from Kibler, who represented the United States in relay duty at last summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It hasn’t been an easy season for the senior, as he dealt with a non-COVID illness and crashed his longboard during an accident that required stitches. Because of inconsistent time in the pool during the first semester, Kibler did not have a taper meet prior to the NCAA Champs.

Kibler and Sates first went head-to-head in the event on the opening night of competition, when both athletes led off in the 800 freestyle relay. Kibler got the best of that matchup, as his mark of 1:30.54 bettered the 1:30.78 of Sates and jumpstarted Texas to a title. This time around, House nudged his way between them, having delivered an improved performance over the 1:31.01 he supplied in the relay.

Simply advancing to the final of the 200 freestyle was a chore, as 1:32.00 was required for a top-eight showing during prelims. While Kibler secured the top seed following a morning performance of 1:30.91, Sates wasn’t far behind after a swim of 1:31.11.

With Texas trailing Cal by 7.5 points heading into the last day of action, Kibler will be called on to deliver again in the 100 freestyle. The way Kibler is swimming, he will be a leading contender in the event. In addition to his victory in the 200 freestyle, Kibler advanced to the final in the 50 free, a personal best of 18.60 posted in the prelims.

“I just wanted to enjoy it, remind myself that it’s not so scary,” Kibler said. “I like to think of the 200 free as my baby and I work hard for it.”

Full Coverage

Live Results

 Event 10  Men 200 Yard Freestyle
         NCAA: N 1:29.15  3/27/2019 Dean Farris, Harvard
         Meet: M 1:29.15  3/27/2019 Dean Farris, Harvard
     American: A 1:29.15  3/27/2019 Dean Farris, Harvard
   U. S. Open: O 1:29.15  3/27/2019 Dean Farris, Harvard
         Pool: P 1:30.46  3/25/2016 Townley Haas, Texas
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
                       === Championship Final ===                        
  1 Kibler, Drew           SR Texas             1:30.91    1:30.28P  20  
    r:+0.62  21.01        44.04 (23.03)
        1:07.11 (23.07)     1:30.28 (23.17)
  2 House, Grant           SR ASU               1:31.63    1:30.68   17  
    r:+0.62  20.86        43.72 (22.86)
        1:07.17 (23.45)     1:30.68 (23.51)
  3 Sates, Matthew         FR Georgia           1:31.11    1:30.72   16  
    r:+0.61  21.26        44.46 (23.20)
        1:07.60 (23.14)     1:30.72 (23.12)
  4 Miller, Luke           SO NCSU              1:31.78    1:31.16   15  
    r:+0.60  21.24        44.44 (23.20)
        1:07.59 (23.15)     1:31.16 (23.57)
  5 Smith, Kieran          SR Florida           1:31.90    1:31.27   14  
    r:+0.67  21.27        44.20 (22.93)
        1:07.74 (23.54)     1:31.27 (23.53)
  6 Curry, Brooks          JR LSU               1:32.00    1:31.45   13  
    r:+0.60  20.81        44.02 (23.21)
        1:07.86 (23.84)     1:31.45 (23.59)
  7 Julian, Trenton        5Y California        1:31.71    1:31.80   12  
    r:+0.62  21.51        44.73 (23.22)
        1:08.29 (23.56)     1:31.80 (23.51)
  8 Sartori, Murilo        FR Louisville        1:31.99    1:32.90   11  
    r:+0.62  21.37        44.85 (23.48)
        1:08.79 (23.94)     1:32.90 (24.11)


Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x