NCAA Men’s Championships: Leon Marchand Concludes Magnificent NCAA Debut With 200 Breast Title (VIDEO)

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Leon Marchand -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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NCAA Men’s Championships: Leon Marchand Concludes Magnificent NCAA Debut With 200 Breast Title

After capturing the national title in the 100 breaststroke one day earlier, Minnesota’s Max McHugh led the 200 breaststroke final for 175 yards as he aimed to complete the double for the second straight year. But Arizona State’s Leon Marchand used a brilliant final pullout to pull ahead of McHugh, and McHugh could not respond. Marchand’s incredible last 50 (where he split 28.32) helped him finish in 1:48.20, more than a half-second ahead of McHugh’s 1:48.76.

Marchand’s time made him the second-fastest performer in history behind Will Licon, who set the American record of 1:47.91 in 2017, while McHugh, now ranked sixth all-time dipped under 1:49 for the first time in his career. The title was the second this week for Marchand after he took down Caeleb Dressel’s U.S. Open and NCAA records in the 200 IM on Thursday before he placed second to Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez in Friday’s 400 IM. In his first season competing in the United States, Marchand delivered the a performance widely regarded as the top individual effort of the entire meet.

“That’s amazing because I didn’t know I would be that fast,” Marchand said. “I won two events and finished second in the 400 IM. Those are very good results for me. That’s my first year, so I have time to improve. That’s pretty cool.”

Penn freshman Matt Fallon qualified fastest for the final with his time of 1:49.03, but Fallon swims a unique style where he swims slowly on the first 100 yards before accelerating significantly after that. Indeed, Fallon was in last place at the halfway point, but he split 27.38 on the third 50 to pass five swimmers. However, he could not make up anymore ground after that, and he ended up seventh in 1:49.16. Fallon’s prelims performance ranks him seventh all-time in the race. Virginia Tech’s Carles Coll Marti was the only other swimmer to break 1:50 as he recorded a fourth-place time of 1:49.69.

While the American competitors on the NCAA level have been competing in short course yards for their entire careers, this is a totally new format for Marchand. He admitted, “I don’t have goal times. I’m just trying for each race to push my own limits, trying to be the best of myself. Applying what I’m doing in training and just give everything.”

But the combination of his performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, when Marchand placed sixth in the 400-meter IM final, and his improvements on the college level that have been evident, have boosted the 19-year-old’s confidence. With the college season concluded, Marchand will turn his attention to long course as soon as next week, when he will race at the TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio, and he will return to global competition as a much more highly-regarded and dangerous performer than when he made his Olympic final debut last summer.

“I think I’m having a lot more fun here than in France,” Marchand said. “I’m doing a lot more relays here. It’s more like a team, and we are very nice to each other, so that’s cool. I love to swim for the team, too, to try to bring the most points that I can for ASU. Another thing is that the training is different here. The intensity is different, and I improved a lot on underwater kicking and backstroke.”

Event 18  Men 200 Yard Breaststroke
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 1:47.91  3/25/2017 Will Licon, Texas
         Meet: M 1:47.91  3/25/2017 Will Licon, Texas
     American: A 1:47.91  3/25/2017 Will Licon, Texas
   U. S. Open: O 1:47.91  3/25/2017 Will Licon, Texas
         Pool: P 1:48.12  3/26/2016 Will Licon, Texas
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 Marchand, Leon         FR ASU               1:50.38    1:48.20   20  
    r:+0.66  24.67        52.01 (27.34)
        1:19.88 (27.87)     1:48.20 (28.32)
  2 McHugh, Max            SR Minnesota         1:50.31    1:48.76   17  
    r:+0.67  24.29        51.85 (27.56)
        1:19.56 (27.71)     1:48.76 (29.20)
  3 Fallon, Matt           FR Penn              1:49.03    1:49.16   16  
    r:+0.66  25.21        53.34 (28.13)
        1:20.72 (27.38)     1:49.16 (28.44)
  4 Coll Marti, Carles     SO VT                1:51.19    1:49.69   15  
    r:+0.60  24.60        52.72 (28.12)
        1:20.77 (28.05)     1:49.69 (28.92)
  5 Pumputis, Caio         5Y GT                1:50.85    1:50.61   14  
    r:+0.65  25.02        53.22 (28.20)
        1:21.49 (28.27)     1:50.61 (29.12)
  6 Corbeau, Caspar        JR Texas             1:50.51    1:50.79   13  
    r:+0.64  24.77        52.37 (27.60)
        1:21.17 (28.80)     1:50.79 (29.62)
  7 Whitley, Reece         SR California        1:50.71    1:50.83   12  
    r:+0.73  24.70        52.51 (27.81)
        1:21.16 (28.65)     1:50.83 (29.67)
  8 Roy, Daniel            SR Stanford          1:51.32    1:51.17   11  
    r:+0.57  25.16        53.07 (27.91)
        1:21.69 (28.62)     1:51.17 (29.48)
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Frank A Wilson
4 months ago

Is this the first time a freshman has finished with two firsts and a second in one NCAAs?