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ASU Swim/Dive: NCAA Men’s Championships Preview

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On the fringe of the top-20, a few things have to go right

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

Wednesday: 800 freestyle relay

The 800 free relay is the only event on Wednesday, and the Devils’ relay will swim in heat 2 of 3, seeded 16th out of 20 teams. They’ll swim in lane 8, next to the 14th seeded Texas A&M Aggies. The 15th-seeded Arizona Wildcats qualified with a time about a half-second faster than the Sun Devils, and they’ll be in lane 1 for the event. At Pac-12s, sophomore Grant House led off, followed by sophomore Carter Swift as well as freshmen Tyler Zuyus and Ethan Luc.

Look for: Grant House to give the Sun Devils a head start. House has the sixth-fastest 200 freestyle time in the nation, off of a flash start.

Thursday: 200 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 400 medley relay, 1-meter diving

The 200 freestyle-relay spot is vague right now– the Sun Devils notched a provisional time at Pac-12s, with a sixth-place finish. Carter Swift, sophomore Evan Carlson, graduate student Gage Kohner and Ethan Luc combined for the 1:17.84 time, but the lineup for the race in Austin is still under wraps.

House is seeded 13th in the 200 IM, so he’ll swim in an outside lane of the second heat. Places 7th through 18th will be decided by .68 seconds, so this will be a tight one.

Carter Swift and junior Zach Poti are seeded 46th and 52nd in the 50 freestyle, after being invited on provisional times. Evan Carlson’s 19.50 would have seeded him 35th according to the psych sheet, but he isn’t entered in the event–he’ll score far more points on relays.

The 400 medley relay qualified based on their time of 3:07.34 at Pac-12s. In Federal Way, Poti, senior Danny Comforti, freshman Khalil Fonder, and House combined for 5th place. The breaststroke spot is unclear though, as Comforti swam in the 400 medley relay while freshman Elijah Warren swam the breaststroke leg in the 200-yard equivalent.

Look for: Swift and Poti to move up the ranks in a tightly-contested 50 freestyle race.

Friday: 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, 3-meter diving

The 200 freestyle will likely be the most competitive race of the entire meet. It will feature Texas senior Townley Haas, who finished fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the 200-meter freestyle and won gold in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. Haas is looking to four-peat as a national champion in the event. Grant House made the ‘A’ final for the Sun Devils, with the sixth-fastest time in the nation this year out of a crowded field. For an eight-length race, less than two seconds separate the top-12 places. Carter Swift is also seeded 44th in the event.

Zach Poti will compete in the 100 backstroke after winning that event at the Pac-12 meet with an all-time ASU record. He’s currently seeded sixth, but like all sprint events, the top-8 are separtated by a mere .73 seconds. Poti’s underwaters are a key part of his swims, so keep an eye out for Poti’s head to pop up last.

The 200 medley relay is one of the strongest Devil relays, consisting of Poti, Warren, Fonder and Carlson. The four combined for a third-place finish at Pac-12s. The relay is seeded 14th, but Poti will be the difference-maker in the relay. His split of 21.47 was the third-fastest in the Pac-12, and for a race with only one turn, his two underwaters will be the key to a fast start for the relay.

Look for: Poti’s underwaters in the 100 back.

Saturday: 1650 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, 400 freestyle relay, platform diving

Zach Poti will swim the 200 backstroke Saturday, an event in which he placed second at the Pac-12 meet. Poti swam a sub-1:40 time for the first time in Federal Way, but is seeded 11th in a field where the top-13 swimmers are all sub-1:40. He’s separated from the top of the ‘B’ final by a third of a second, so Poti will take advantage of his underwaters to drop another sub-1:40 time.

Carter Swift is the Sun Devils’ sole qualifier in the 100 freestyle, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a player in his first season in Tempe. Swift should be seeded in the top-30 when Saturday’s heat sheets are released. He notched a ‘B’ cut with his Pac-12 prelims time of 42.52, so he’s capable of swimming fast. He followed that time with a 42.80 in the finals and a 42.70 leading off the 400 freestyle relay, so it’s a matter of race-day readiness for Swift.

Grant House will swim his third individual event on Saturday, the 200 breaststroke. He’s seeded 37th, after finishing 10th at the Pac-12 meet. There’s plenty of room for House to move up in a field where one second could mean a 15-place difference.

The traditional concluding event, the 400 freestyle relay, is likely the Devils’ strongest relay. Swift, Carlson, Poti and House will combine for a quartet likely seeded 15th. If Swift can deliver a strong lead off to the relay, the group should jump a few spots.

Look for: Swift’s quick turnaround from the 100 freestyle to swimming in the 400 freestyle relay, with House’s from the 200 breast to the relay.

High point: Grant House

House may edge out Poti for most points scored for ASU at the meet, simply due to his presence in the 200 freestyle. Both will score valuable points for ASU.

Dark horse: Youssef Selim

Diving is often forgotten, but can typically make the difference in meets. The past four years, Texas has edged out Cal for the national championship, and the past four years Cal hasn’t had a single diver in an ‘A’ final; Texas traditionally has multiple. Diving is the commonly slept-on value at meets.

Both junior Youssef Selim and graduate student David Hoffer qualified in all three diving events, the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform. With ASU on the fringe of the top-20, the team standing in the Sun Devil’s way will likely be Florida State, who did not qualify any divers.

X-factor: Carter Swift

Swift is a crucial part of several relays and individual events. For his first time at the NCAA Division I Championships, if Swift shows up big, the Devils will crack the top-20 teams.

Coverage of the NCAA Men’s Division I Championships will begin with the 800 freestyle relay Wednesday at 8 p.m. Arizona time.