top of page

2024 Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship Recap

Jay Wei

The ASU Sun Devils celebrate their first-ever NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, led by the legendary Coach Bob Bowman.


The Arizona Sun Devils won their first-ever NCAA Men’s Swimming Championship title, scoring 523.5 points, followed by the Cal Bears and the Florida Gators. “Arizona State’s team was cut in 2008,” Swim Reporter Kyle Sockwell posted on his Instagram. “Now, in 2024, they’re National Champions. Unbelievably proud to be an ASU alum today.” He’s right. In 2008, Arizona State University cut the swimming program, but it was saved and brought back through fundraisers held by swimmers, alumni, and coaches. In 2015, ASU hired Bob Bowman, a name that many recognize as the swim coach of the Legendary Michael Phelps. Nine years later, the Sun Devils have propelled themselves to be one of the greatest collegiate swim programs of all time, winning seven of the 18 swimming events and breaking three NCAA records. Led by the swimming phenomenon Leon Marchand, the team is composed of world-class swimmers like Hubert Kós Ilya Kharun, Jonny Kulow, Jack Dolan, and Zalan Sarkany. Marchand earned an NCAA title every single time he touched the water, except the 200-medley relay on night one. He established records in the 500-free, 200-free (later broken by Luke Hobson), 200-breast, 400-medley relay, and 400-free relay. 


Every event has something to be talked about. From the 1650 to the 100 breast, the fields were all stacked with the fastest short-course swimmers in the world. Below, I will analyze a few of the fastest swims of the meet:


200-Medley Relay:


Let’s be honest: We all thought ASU was going to sweep the relays. Coming in as the NCAA Record holders, set just two weeks prior at the PAC 12 Championships, ASU seemed unstoppable in their peak form and condition. The second seed, Florida Gators, came in with a 1:21.66, over a second slower than the ASU. Yet in finals, the Florida Gators dropped over one and a half seconds to win the event at an NCAA record-breaking time of 1:20.15, with Adam Chaney splitting 20.29, Julian Smith splitting 22.55, Josh Liendo going the second fastest split of all time 18.97, and Maguire McDuff anchoring at an 18.34. ASU placed second, going their seeded time of 1:20.55 again. Surprisingly, no one broke the 20-second barrier on the backstroke leg, with Aiden Hayes being the closest, going 20.07. The breaststroke leg was highlighted by the five-year Cal swimmer Liam Bell, who went a blazing 22.25. As mentioned before, Josh Liendo went the second fastest fly split of all time, going 18.97, behind Jordan Crook’s 18.90 set last year. McDuff’s 18.34 held off ASU’s Kulow, the only swimmer in the field going under the 18-second mark at 17.94.


500-Free:


Wow. Many of us are still questioning: did that really just happen? Did Marchand really just swim a 4:02 500-yard freestyle, four seconds faster than the second performer of all time? Coming out of an amazing PAC-12 Championships in Federal Way, Washington, Marchand already held the NCAA record in this event, with a time of 4:06.18. However, his performance was nothing close to the swim we saw on night two of the NCAA Championships. The field had some other notable names, including Luke Hobson, Jake Magahey, and Gabriel Jett, but all eyes were on Marchand. Marchand went out a 21.09, more than a full second ahead of everyone else in the field. His 200 split was 1:33.12, followed by a 1:57.94 at the two hundred mark. His legs gave out a little toward the end of the race, yet he still destroyed the NCAA record with a 4:02.31. Hobson came in second at 4:06.93, followed by Magahey at 4:07.12.


200-Free: 


The 200-free really started on night one of the finals, in the final two heats of the 800-free relay. Hobson opened up the meet with a lead-off split of 1:29.13, breaking Dean Farris’s 200-free record from 2019. Marchand, in the heat right after, responded with a 1:28.97, breaking the not-even-ten-minutes-old NCAA record while also becoming the first swimmer ever to go sub-1:29. Two nights later, Hobson made one of the craziest comebacks in collegiate swim history. In prelims, Hobson touched first at a 1:29.75, just a little over his relay split. Jack Alexy touched second, going a best time of 1:30.38, followed by Jordan Crooks at 1:30.41. The field for the final was stacked, with six of the eight A-finalists all going sub 1:31. Alexy took it out the fastest, going 43.31 at the hundred mark, with Hobson close behind, going 43.36. Alexy’s back half, however, was no match for Hobson, and Hobson split a 45.54 on his second 100 to finish the race at a blistering time of 1:28.81. That was huge points for the Texas Longhorns, and Hobson reclaimed his NCAA record while becoming the second performer in history to go under 1:29.


400-Free Relay:


The 400-free relay has always been one of the most exciting races to watch at the NCAA Championship. It sits as the competition's final event and caps off the short course season for all collegiate swimmers. The highlight of the race was the race between Marchand, Liendo, and Crooks on the lead-off leg. Marchand proved his versatility by going 40.28, which would have been second in the 100-freestyle individual event. Crooks also went a lifetime best, going 40.39, just two-tenths behind Marchand. The race ended with a battle between Kulow and McDuff, with Kulow ultimately taking the win for the Sun Devils in a record-breaking time of 2:43.40. This time shaved off over half a second from the previous records, set just a year ago by the Florida Gators (2:44.07) at the 2023 NCAA Championships.


Year after year, the NCAA Championships stand as a beacon of growth and evolution in the sport of swimming. The relentless hard work and dedication of athletes like Marchand and Hobson show just how far athletes can push the boundaries of the sport. As the NCAA continues to captivate audiences and inspire future generations of swimmers, it serves as a testament to the enduring popularity of the sport while also signaling a promising trajectory for its continued growth and success in the years to come.

Comments


bottom of page