NCAA Men’s Championships: Luke Hobson Retakes NCAA 200 Freestyle Record with 1:28.81 Statement

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Men’s Championships: Luke Hobson Retakes NCAA Record with 1:28.81 American Record

After holding the NCAA record for about a half-hour Wednesday night, Luke Hobson declared that there was “more out there” for him in the 200 free.

He showed it Friday night, going 1:28.81 to lower his American record and reclaim the NCAA record along with gold at the NCAA Championships.

Hobson had gone 1:29.13 on Wednesday, clipping .02 off Dean Farris’ NCAA and American record off the front of the 800 free relay. Leon Marchand went 1:28.97 two heats later to seize the NCAA mark.

Hobson Friday delivered a composed race. Surrounded by sprinters, he kept them under control early, built through his second 50, and stamped his authority on the third, knowing he would have the strongest legs coming home.

He was faster last year in the 800 free relay (1:29.63) than he would be two days later (1:30.43) in winning the individual event. He would look at it the other way around, that he was slower in the individual for lack of recovery. He’s rectified that this year.

“Really just taking care of myself,” he said. “It’s really not easy, and I’ve gotten so much better at it over the past year and a half. Last year, I was 29.6 on the relay and 30.4 in the individual. Here, I’m super happy to have been able to manage myself and be able to drop from the relay to tonight. I’m really happy with that and proud of myself for figuring that out tonight.”

  • NCAA record: Leon Marchand, Arizona State 1:28.97 (2024)
  • 2023 champion: Luke Hobson, Texas 1:30.43

Second was Jack Alexy in 1:29.75, a best time for the Cal swimmer. Chris Guiliano, another stretched out sprinter, finished third in 1:30.38, .2 ahead of Charlie Hawke of Alabama. All eight swimmers in the A final, in an oddity, were juniors, to go with half of the B final.

The 200 free is a fitting portrait of versatility elite versatility. Only two swimmers, Hobson and Gabriel Jett, were held over from last year’s A final. Some, like Guiliano and Rafael Miroslaw, have sped up from last year’s consolation final. Others have slid in, like Jordan Crooks from a fifth-place finish in the 100 fly last year or Alexy from missing out on a second swim in the 100 back, both swapping out their third-fastest events.

Crooks and Alexy set the tone early, but none could hold on to Hobson. Crooks finished sixth in 1:31.03, slipping behind Indiana’s Miroslaw.

The speed bookending him forced Hobson to stay within himself and follow his raceplan, which he did.

“Something that I’ve learned throughout the years of racing 200 frees is what works for me is not necessarily what works for everyone else,” he says. “Sometimes taking it out a little bit slower can help me finish in the back half, which I was 2.4, 2.7, which is a crazy back half for me. I’m super happy with that. I think a lot of that was just from being a little more relaxed on the first 25 unlike the relay where I went for it.”

Jett, last year’s silver medalist, was seventh. It continues a tough start to the night for Cal, with a seventh-place result from Dare Rose in the 100 butterfly and their two 200 free B finalists going 15th and 16th, not improving their prelim seeds.

Alabama’s Kaique Alves won the B final in 1:31.68, a crazy consolation final in which six swimmers broke 1:32. Arizona State went 12th and 14th with Julian Hill and Patrick Sammon, ahead of Cal’s 15 and 16.

Hobson’s final advice from Texas assistant coach Wyatt Collins was to approach his 200 free like a long-course swim Friday. Hobson will be hoping to have a final in another meet of some note in Indianapolis in a few months, at U.S. Olympic Trials. Friday’s result, he hopes, will offer a blueprint.

“It’s just being patient and trusting myself and the training and knowing that I’m going to have it in the back half,” he said. “It’s a huge confidence boost going into the summer.”

Event 10  Men 200 Yard Freestyle
         NCAA: N 1:28.97  3/27/2024 Leon Marchand, ASU
         Meet: M 1:28.97  3/27/2024 Leon Marchand, ASU
     American: A 1:29.13  3/27/2024 Luke Hobson, Texas
   U. S. Open: O 1:28.97  3/27/2024 Leon Marchand, ASU
         Pool: P 1:28.97  3/27/2024 Leon Marchand, ASU
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
                       === Championship Final ===                        
  1 Hobson, Luke           JR Texas             1:29.75    1:28.81N  20  
    r:+0.71  20.82        43.36 (22.54)
        1:06.07 (22.71)     1:28.81 (22.74)
  2 Alexy, Jack            JR California        1:30.38    1:29.75   17  
    r:+0.65  20.45        43.31 (22.86)
        1:06.47 (23.16)     1:29.75 (23.28)
  3 Guiliano, Chris        JR Notre Dame        1:30.86    1:30.38   16  
    r:+0.61  20.70        43.62 (22.92)
        1:06.72 (23.10)     1:30.38 (23.66)
  4 Hawke, Charlie         JR Alabama           1:30.81    1:30.58   15  
    r:+0.69  20.84        43.74 (22.90)
        1:07.15 (23.41)     1:30.58 (23.43)
  5 Miroslaw, Rafael       JR Indiana           1:30.99    1:30.84   14  
    r:+0.63  20.88        43.78 (22.90)
        1:07.10 (23.32)     1:30.84 (23.74)
  6 Crooks, Jordan         JR Tennessee         1:30.41    1:31.03   13  
    r:+0.62  20.66        43.86 (23.20)
        1:07.38 (23.52)     1:31.03 (23.65)
  7 Jett, Gabriel          JR California        1:31.28    1:31.16   12  
    r:+0.55  21.37        44.62 (23.25)
        1:08.18 (23.56)     1:31.16 (22.98)
  8 Sartori, Murilo        JR Louisville        1:31.42    1:32.12   11  
    r:+0.69  21.40        44.73 (23.33)
        1:08.42 (23.69)     1:32.12 (23.70)
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