Six You Missed: Quintin McCarty, Lucy Bell, Justina Kozan Lead Under-the-Radar Swims at College Invites

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Quintin McCarty -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Six You Missed: Quintin McCarty, Lucy Bell, Justina Kozan Lead Under-the-Radar Swims from College Invitationals

During one of college swimming’s busiest weekend of the fall semester and one of the busiest of the year, plenty of fast swimming gave fans a how the national-title races will develop in March. Most notably, the Arizona State men could be unbeatable with Hubert Kos and Ilya Kharun emerging as stars to team with Leon Marchand while Virginia junior Gretchen Walsh swam the fastest times ever in the women’s 50 freestyle (tied) and 100 butterfly (unofficially).

But with the majority of the country’s top teams in action, plenty of results changed the landscape of events beyond the big-name stars, the swimmers with national titles and international medals already under their belts. Here are a few to take note of:

Quintin McCarty (NC State), 50 Freestyle

Check out the current collegiate standings in the men’s splash-and-dash, and you’ll find familiar names at the top in Jordan Crooks and Josh Liendo. But right behind them is Quintin McCarty, a redshirt freshman originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., who checked in at 18.80 to win the event against a tough field at the Wolfpack-hosted invitational over the weekend. At this point, an 18.8 barely qualifies a swimmer for an NCAA championship final, but if McCarty can continue to make slight improvements throughout the season, he will find himself in contention in March.

Moreover, NC State usually has a strong group contending in the 200 free relay, and the additions of McCarty and Drew Salls can make up for the losses of Nyls Korstanje and David Curtiss from last year’s third-place relay.


Lucy Bell (Stanford), Justina Kozan (USC) & Caroline Bricker (Stanford), 400 IM

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Justina Kozan — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Arguably the best head-to-head-to-head matchup of the weekend came in the women’s 400 IM at the Texas Invite, with a pair of Stanford swimmers, sophomore Lucy Bell and freshman Caroline Bricker, facing off with USC sophomore Justina Kozan in the 400 IM. Bell led almost the entire race, with Bricker moving up on the breaststroke leg before Kozan turned on the jets to move past Bricker and pull dead even with Bell. In the end, Bell and Kozan were the co-winners in 4:03.25, with Bricker just behind in 4:03.49.

For comparison, only Virginia teammates Alex Walsh and Ella Nelson beat those times at the NCAA Championships, and in this season’s rankings, only Florida’s Bella Sims, an Olympian and member of two World Championships teams, has been faster than this trio. Those currently just behind in the national rankings include Nelson and 400-meter IM Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant. Quite a jump for a swimmer who placed seventh at last year’s NCAAs (Bell), one who was 23rd in the 400 IM and did not score individually in any event (Kozan) and one whose pre-college best time was 4:09.57.


Jaek Horner (Utah) & Alex Sanchez (Texas A&M), 100 Breaststroke

At last season’s NCAA Men’s Championships, Utah’s Jaek Horner placed 38th in the 100 breast in 52.65 while Texas A&M’s Alex Sanchez was just ahead at 52.54. These two swimmers are at a much different spot right now after a tight race between the two at the Art Adamson Invitational last weekend. Horner got the touch at 51.32, with Sanchez right behind at 51.37, both beating their season-best times from last year by at least a half-second. We’ll see if they can keep pace over the rest of the season, but there is certainly an opportunity in the event this season with only two of the eight 2023 A-finalists back.


Ruard van Renen (Georgia), 100 Backstroke

This sophomore from Durbanville, South Africa, is new to the Bulldogs but not to national racing. Ruard van Renen placed ninth in the 100 backstroke at last season’s NCAAs while representing Southern Illinois. He eclipsed that time at the Georgia Invite by going 44.50, which ranks behind only the decorated quartet of Hubert KosKacper Stokowski and Will Modglin in the national rankings. His addition to the UGA 400 medley relay could push the Bulldogs back into top-eight territory as they seek a team top-10 national finish.


Molly Mayne (Florida), 100 Breaststroke

Florida’s women have taken a significant step forward this season with the additions of Bella Sims and Isabel Ivey to the roster, but don’t sleep on the impact that Molly Mayne after she blasted a time of 58.78 in the 100 breast over the weekend in Athens. That time is ranked sixth in the country and already ahead of what it took to qualify for the A-final of the event at last year’s NCAA Championships. Florida’s top breaststroker from last year, Nina Kucheran, has exhausted her eligibility, so Mayne combined with Ivey and Sims could create a sneaky-good 400 medley relay combination.


Charlie Hawke & Kaique Alves (both Alabama), 200 Freestyle

The only two sub-1:32 performances in the men’s 200 free this season belong to the Crimson Tide duo of Charlie Hawke and Kaique Alves, with Hawke winning the event at the Tennessee Invite in 1:31.30 while Alves claimed second in 1:31.97. Both men would need to repeat or improve upon their times at the end of the season in order to truly contend for a title, but no swimmer has ever missed the NCAA A-final after going sub-1:32 in prelims. However, Alabama will still need two more 200 freestylers to make a jump to assemble a nationally-contending 800 free relay.

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Theodore
Theodore
3 months ago

Brian Benzing 100 breast Patriot Invite

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