NCAA Men’s Swim of the Year: Leon Marchand Blasted 200 IM Mark

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Men’s Swim of the Year: Leon Marchand Set 200 IM Mark

As Leon Marchand adjusted to life in collegiate swimming, one number he knew well. He’d watched Caeleb Dressel set the NCAA record in the men’s 200 individual medley in 2018. And if there was a time to orient the Arizona State freshman in his first NCAAs, the 1:38.13 NCAA record wasn’t a bad one to aim at.

In Atlanta in March, Marchand made it look about as easy as something that fast should.

Marchand won the final of the 200 IM in 1:37.69, setting the NCAA and U.S. Open records in the event.

“This is amazing,” Marchand said then. “A few years ago, I was watching this record and I was like, “this is insane.” And now I’m beating this, so this is crazy.”

Marchand’s first NCAAs was all-around outstanding. The French Olympian won the 200 IM and 200 breast, was second in the 400 IM and helped the Sun Devils finish second in the 400 free relay. It was one of four top-eight relay results, helping Arizona State finish sixth in the team standings, the program’s best result since 1982.

But for the Pac-12 Men’s Swimmer of the Year, the 200 IM was the clear standout. He had been the second seed after morning preliminaries, Cal’s Destin Lasco edging him by just under a tenth in setting the pool record of 1:38.71. Lasco would win silver in 1:38.21, and three others would crack 1:40 in the final. But there was no catching Marchand. His record-setting splits:

21.42 – 24.32 – 28.41 – 23.54 – 1:37.69

He was second after the 50-yard mark, Georgia’s Luca Urlando getting the better of him with a split of 21.09 to Marchand’s 21.42. But in Urlando’s best stroke and arguably Marchand’s weakest – if we really stretch the definition of “weak” – that was fine. He would surge ahead by the 100-yard mark with a split of 23.42, the fastest in the field. He gave back a little bit of ground to Lasco in breaststroke, though his split of 28.41 was still the second fastest in the field. He had more than enough coming home to get the win (even if Lasco was faster in the back half –51.08 to 51.95).

The 200 IM triumph proved to be the beginning of a stellar year for Marchand. He did the IM double at the World Championships and took silver in the 200 fly, all in national records. He rode the momentum of NCAAs to finally take down the French record in the 200 IM in early April in San Antonio at the TYR Pro Swim Series. And he finished the summer with his first European record, in the 400 IM.

You’d be wise to wager it won’t be his last.

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Frank Wilson
Frank Wilson
1 year ago

Leon’s Marchands swimming of IMs is amazing and great to watch. I expect to see a battle royal on 21 January when ASU and Cal next meet in Tempe in a dual meet. Rumor has it that the meet may be in tech suits! Likely Marchand, House and newcomer Hubert Kos for ASU v Lasco, Gonzalez for Cal!!

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