NCAA Men’s Championships: Arizona State Finishes Off Team Title With 400 Free Relay NCAA Record

Arizona State's Leon Marchand -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

NCAA Men’s Championships: Arizona State Finishes Off Team Title With 400 Free Relay NCAA Record

Entering the final event of the NCAA Men’s Championships, the Arizona State Sun Devils had already locked up the program’s first-ever team title, but Leon Marchand and co. wanted to conclude the contest in style. Arizona State had already won six titles at this meet, with Marchand taking three, Zalan Sarkany claiming top honors in the 1650 freestyle, Ilya Kharun coming from behind to take the 200 butterfly and the 400 medley relay team setting an NCAA record in a victorious effort. Now, the 400 freestyle relay joins that championship club.

In short course, Marchand is nearly unstoppable, and he proved that with a brilliant leadoff leg on this relay, clocking 40.28 to move to No. 3 all-time in the individual 100 free behind sprint specialists Caeleb Dressel and Josh Liendo. From there, Arizona State would never give up the lead, even as teams like Florida and Tennessee made spirited efforts.

Jack Dolan split 41.28 on the second leg, and Patrick Sammon followed with a 41.02 effort. Jonny Kulow got a bit of a scare from Florida anchor Macguire McDuff early on in their leg, but Kulow ended up splitting 40.82, the second-fastest anchor leg after Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger, to seal the deal.

Arizona State’s final time was 2:43.40, which took two-thirds of a second off the NCAA-record time of 2:44.07 established by Florida at last year’s championships. ASU had gone 2:44.23 at the Pac-12 Championships earlier this month to just miss the record, but here, the Sun Devils came through with the quickest 400 free relay ever.

In the aftermath, the three Sun Devil swimmers who followed Marchand heaped praise on their French teammate, who had just added another note to his incredible list of accomplishments in college swimming as he paced ASU in this relay win. But the focus for Dolan, Kulow and Sammon was on Marchand as a person, not just how he has elevated the team’s performance across the board, including in these two relay wins.

“I picked him up from the airport when he first got in,” Dolan recalled. “His English wasn’t great. He’d been awake for like 24 hours. And within a month or two, he was really starting to talk to everybody more, come together with the team. It’s been really fun to see him grow the past couple years. He’s salt-to-the-earth, one of the best human beings you will ever meet. Not even a shred of an ego about the kid. Nothing but great things to say about him. He’s really starting to come out of his shell and grow into who he is. He’s an even better person than he is a swimmer, so it’s been really fun to see.”

Kulow added, “He’s the greatest swimmer right now, probably going to be ever, and he’s also one of the greatest guys that I know.”

Entering the last relay, Cal had secured second place in the team race thanks to a strong evening, which included Destin Lasco’s win in the 200 backstroke, but Florida was in danger of losing its grip on a top-three finish thanks to the efforts of Indiana University. The Gators had suffered a big setback Friday with the disqualification of their 400 medley relay, and after a 1-2-7 finish from the Hoosiers in diving, Florida was 14 points down entering the 400 free relay.

Liendo had a rough start on the leadoff leg, with his time of 41.28 more than a second behind his individual-event winning time of 40.20 from earlier in the night. But his teammates came through to deliver the Gators a second-place finish, sufficient to finish two points ahead of Indiana for third place. Adam Chaney split 40.80, followed by Julian Smith at 41.30 and Macguire McDuff at 40.83.

Florida’s final time was 2:44.21, just 14-hundredths off the previous NCAA record the exact same contingent established last season. Combined with Indiana finishing ninth, that put Florida two points ahead in the team standings.

“That pressure for the relays, every time we were gunning for the win. It is awesome to see the guys you train with improve so much and it is motivating,” Liendo said. “It is really good. We can build that momentum for next year.”

Cal’s team of Jack Alexy, Lasco, Matt Jensen and Seeliger finished third in 2:44.46, with Alexy leading off in 40.79 before Seeliger’s 40.65 closing leg. NC State’s Luke MillerJerry FoxSam Hoover and Quintin McCarty placed third in 2:45.29, with McCarty splitting 41.02 to overtake Tennessee by nine hundredths. The Volunteers saw Jordan Crooks lead off in 40.39, two tenths quicker than he went in the individual 100 free final, while Gui Caribe split 40.96 on the third leg.

Event 21  Men 400 Yard Freestyle Relay
         NCAA: N 2:43.40  3/30/2024 Arizona St, ASU
                          L Marchand, J Dolan, P Sammon, J Kulow
         Meet: M 2:43.40  3/30/2024 Arizona St, ASU
                          L Marchand, J Dolan, P Sammon, J Kulow
     American: A 2:44.31  3/24/2018 NC State
                          R Held, J Ress, J Molacek, C Stewart
   U. S. Open: O 2:43.40  3/30/2024 Arizona St, ASU
                          L Marchand, J Dolan, P Sammon, J Kulow
         Pool: P 2:43.40  3/30/2024 Arizona St, ASU-US
                          L Marchand, J Dolan, P Sammon, J Kulow
    School                                 Seed     Finals Points 
  1 ASU                                 2:44.23    2:43.40N  40  
     1) Marchand, Leon JR             2) r:0.24 Dolan, Jack 5Y        
     3) r:0.25 Sammon, Patrick JR     4) r:0.18 Kulow, Jonny SO       
    r:+0.59  19.37        40.28 (40.28)
          59.71 (19.43)     1:21.56 (41.28)
        1:40.82 (19.26)     2:02.58 (41.02)
        2:21.85 (19.27)     2:43.40 (40.82)
  2 Florida                             2:45.31    2:44.21   34  
     1) Liendo, Josh SO               2) r:0.25 Chaney, Adam SR       
     3) r:0.28 Smith, Julian JR       4) r:0.00 McDuff, Macguire JR   
    r:+0.57  19.57        41.28 (41.28)
        1:00.61 (19.33)     1:22.08 (40.80)
        1:41.64 (19.56)     2:03.38 (41.30)
        2:22.44 (19.06)     2:44.21 (40.83)
  3 California                          2:46.36    2:44.46   32  
     1) Alexy, Jack JR                2) r:0.19 Lasco, Destin SR      
     3) r:0.13 Jensen, Matthew SR     4) r:0.25 Seeliger, Bjorn SR    
    r:+0.67  19.65        40.79 (40.79)
        1:00.61 (19.82)     1:22.70 (41.91)
        1:42.06 (19.36)     2:03.81 (41.11)
        2:22.73 (18.92)     2:44.46 (40.65)
  4 NC State                            2:46.22    2:45.29   30  
     1) Miller, Luke SR               2) r:0.06 Fox, Jerry FR         
     3) r:0.20 Hoover, Sam JR         4) r:0.14 McCarty, Quintin FR   
    r:+0.62  20.00        41.31 (41.31)
        1:00.67 (19.36)     1:22.77 (41.46)
        1:42.36 (19.59)     2:04.27 (41.50)
        2:23.41 (19.14)     2:45.29 (41.02)
  5 Tennessee                           2:46.11    2:45.38   28  
     1) Crooks, Jordan JR             2) r:0.16 Chambers, Micah SR    
     3) r:0.30 Santos, Guilherme SO   4) r:0.38 Kammann, Bjorn JR     
    r:+0.58  19.39        40.39 (40.39)
        1:00.14 (19.75)     1:22.60 (42.21)
        1:42.05 (19.45)     2:03.56 (40.96)
        2:23.51 (19.95)     2:45.38 (41.82)
  6 VT                                  2:46.77    2:45.97   26  
     1) Ramadan, Youssef SR           2) r:0.08 Whitfield, Brendan FR 
     3) r:0.19 Dominguez CalonLuis JR 4) r:0.13 Coll Marti, Carles SR 
    r:+0.58  19.49        41.16 (41.16)
        1:00.99 (19.83)     1:23.12 (41.96)
        1:42.80 (19.68)     2:04.63 (41.51)
        2:24.12 (19.49)     2:45.97 (41.34)
  7 Stanford                            2:48.54    2:46.06   24  
     1) Minakov, Andrei JR            2) r:0.18 Gu, Rafael SO         
     3) r:0.19 Dupont Cabrera,dres SO 4) r:0.31 McFadden, Henry FR    
    r:+0.63  20.01        42.09 (42.09)
        1:01.39 (19.30)     1:23.22 (41.13)
        1:42.74 (19.52)     2:04.45 (41.23)
        2:24.47 (20.02)     2:46.06 (41.61)
  8 Notre Dame                          2:45.58    2:46.46   22  
     1) Guiliano, Chris JR            2) r:0.26 Filion, Tanner 5Y     
     3) r:0.30 Janton, Tommy SO       4) r:0.31 Elaraby, Abdelrhman 5Y
    r:+0.61  19.38        40.93 (40.93)
        1:00.54 (19.61)     1:22.78 (41.85)
        1:42.58 (19.80)     2:04.84 (42.06)
        2:24.23 (19.39)     2:46.46 (41.62)
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