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Top Three Swimmers To Look Out For At The 2024 Men’s NCAA Championships

Jay Wei and Woori Lee

ASU Freshman Ilya Kharun is looking to get his first NCAA Championship in the 200 fly after boasting some of the fastest times in history at in-season dual meets.

The annual NCAA D1 Men’s Swimming Championships have drawn hundreds of thousands of fans in the swimming community. From its electric atmosphere to the exhilarating races, this prestigious event has become a pillar of collegiate swimming, captivating its audience with a display of athletic prowess and competitive spirit. This year, the competition will be held from March 27th to March 30th at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. 

As one of the only short-course yard (25-yard) competitions with international swimmers studying and swimming abroad in the US for college, the NCAA is an exciting opportunity to see world-class swims in a different type of competition pool. Some would even argue that certain NCAA records, like Caeleb Dressel’s 17.63 50 free and 39.90 100 free, are more impressive than LCM (50 m) records set at Olympic-size pools. This competition has elevated the standards of swimming by pushing swimmers to achieve extraordinary feats and redefine the boundaries of the sport. With that said, here are the top three swimmers that we think you should look out for at the 2024 Men’s D1 NCAA Swimming Championships.

Leon Marchand:

Leon Marchand’s performance at the 2023 NCAA Swimming Championships was nothing less than an extraordinary achievement, showcasing his versatility in all strokes and dedication in the pool. He posted a 1:36.34 in 200 IM, 1:46.91 in the 200 breast, 1:28.42 in the 800 free split as the anchor, and 49.23 in the 400 medley relay as the breaststroke leg. All of these times either broke the NCAA record or were the fastest times in history. Perhaps the most impressive swim of the 2023 NCAA Championships was his 400 IM, where he absolutely shattered his own record of 3:31.57 by going 3:28.82. Over the summer, Marchand broke Michael Phelps’ legendary 400 IM LCM (long course meter) record at 4:02.50, becoming the first person ever to go under the 4:03 mark. Without a doubt, he has had one of the best seasons ever in history in 2023 and is certainly on track to keep that up. Despite taking a short break from the pool due to sickness and injury, Marchand has posted some pretty impressive times this season. He went 1:38 in the 200 IM twice in 24 hours at back-to-back duel meets with Stanford and Cal, just a second over his own NCAA record set at the 2023 NCAA Championships. Marchand again showed his versatility as a swimmer, becoming the first swimmer to go sub-1:40 in both the 200 fly and the 200 back at the ASU vs UNLV dual meet. With consistent times that put Marchand on track to repeating his NCAA titles, he is certainly one of the top swimmers to look out for this year. 

Ilya Kharun:

Ilya Kharun has been an up-and-coming star since the beginning of the collegiate season, boasting several school records in the butterfly events. Fresh out of high school, although primarily known as a talented 200 butterfly after an impressive 1:53.82 LCM at the recent World Championships in Fukuoka, he has shown his competence in the sprint butterfly and freestyle events as well. He has broken his own school record in the 100 fly multiple times over the course of the season already, but his best time stands at 44.33, while his 50 free stands at a striking 18.93. Moreover, he shocked the swimming world recently when he boasted a time of 1:37.93 in his signature event, the 200 fly--nearly clipping the NCAA record of 1:37.35. His consistent rate of improvement has been crucial in Arizona State’s quest for victory at the 2024 NCAAs.

Josh Liendo:

Josh Liendo already had an extraordinary showing at the 2023 NCAAs as a freshman at the University of Florida, specializing in sprint butterfly and freestyle events. Having gone to the Olympic Games, World Championships, and the NCAAs, his experience will definitely pay dividends in the upcoming battle where he is set to face off against some tough rivals. His best times stand at 18.22 for the 50 free, 40.28 for the 100 free, and 43.40 for the 100 fly from the 2023 season, but he has already shown signs of what he’s capable of. At the Georgia Fall Invitational held from November 16-18, 2023, he had a respectable outing of 18.61 in the 50 free, 40.90 in the 100 free, and 44.39 in the 100 fly. With appropriate preparation, we can expect Liendo to be one of the most exciting and electrifying swimmers to look out for.

These are just some of the swimmers that you should look out for at the 2024 NCAA Championships, and there is certain to be fierce competition and shocking results as these athletes push the boundaries of their abilities in the hopes of scoring some points for their team. With ASU as the number one ranked team in the division and Cal as second, the recent dual meet between the two teams, which resulted in a tie, has proven that anything could be possible at the Championships. As the anticipation builds and the countdown to the championships continues with only a month and a half to go, one thing is certain — the NCAA Swimming Championships are set to be an unforgettable showcase of talent, dedication, and the enduring spirit of the sport.


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