In terms of man-crushes, the top of my list currently goes: 1) Joe Mauer, 2) Craig Fleming. While Joe has failed to deliver a playoff victory for my beloved Twins (this is the year though, I can feel it), Craig is currently seeded 1st in the 100 free. In a fast event like the 100, to be seeded first by .6 over a fast field is quite the accomplishment. With Turk gone for the year, Fleming looks to be the favorite with the field’s fastest time, not just this year, but the fastest PR of the bunch as well.
Only 2 swimmers enter the meet having gone under 45 (Fleming was almost under 44). This may seem slow since 7 swimmers went 44 or better last year (Dan Evans did it from consols!), but actually, only 2 swimmers were under 45 coming into competition last year. Both of them return with Fleming and Ben Wampler. Wampler is about a half second off his seed time but people often forget that he was the runner up last season and therefore the highest placing returner.
The depth in this event is amazing. Approximately half a second separates 4th and 20th. This means tight swims in prelims for anyone who wants a 2nd swim. It’s also interesting to note that in that group of 16, only 2 seniors reside. This doesn’t mean much this year, but certainly means that next year will see even more depth, as well as top end talent.
Sleeper: William (Colby) Dunn. Colby sits atop the grouping between 4th and 20th as just a freshman. The MIT swimmer set his mark in December and has been hard at work training ever since. With MIT set to have a big meet, they will need big swims from their youthful group, including Colby. I think they’ll get it and he will be in the conversation for winner.
Winner: Craig Fleming. Seriously, who were you expecting me to pick? I am not, however, just being a homer. For those who argue he added time last year, I will counter with the subjective opinion that this has been a different season. Craig has swum significantly faster in season than ever before and seems to get faster with each swim. He should be more confident going into this event as He was a 44-mid at the conference prelims when he shut it down with a 50 to go. Look for Craig and David Somers to both be under 44, but with Craig touching the wall first.