Many of the top college swimmers will race for a spot on the USA Olympic team - or for a spot on another countries Olympic team - depending upon their citizenship. While Olympic swimming is different from college swimming, you can still get an idea of the swimmers to watch from the college championships.
What is the biggest difference between college swimming in the USA and Olympic swimming? The pool!
Swimming in the USA's college and university system is almost entirely done in SCY - short-course yards. The normal college swimming competitive pool is 25 yards long. Olympic swimming is done in LCM - long-course meters. Olympic pools are 50 meters long. There are also SCM pools - short-course meters, that are 25 meters long, but in the USA these are not very common. They are very common in the rest of the swimming world, and there are world championships held in both 50 meter LCM pools and in 25 meter SCM pools. In 2000 and 2004, NCAA DI Championships were held in a SCM pool.
Why does that matter? Sure, one is longer than the other, but what is the big deal?
For starters, the length difference is about 10%. A 50 meter swim is about 55 yards (54.68 yards are in 50 meters).
Then there are the turns. In a 25 yard short course yard pool, a 50 is a start, a turn, and a finish. In a 50 meter long course pool, a 50 is a start and a finish. No turn! Swimmers have a higher speed, compared to swimming, when at the start and as they come off the wall after a turn. The shorter pool that includes a turn helps the swimmer to reach a higher average speed.
Race results from a short course meter pool (SCM) are faster than form a long course meter pool (LCM). The turn makes a difference whether the pool is meters or yards. A short course pool performance will be faster than a long course pool performance at any championship level meet, and at almost all other meets, too.
One example - the men's 50 free as of 7 March 2012:
- LCM: Cesar Cielo BRA 20.91 (2009 - suit worn is now banned)
- LCM: Fred Bousquet FRA 21.36 (2010 - textile suit)
- SCM: Fred Bousquet Auburn 21.10 (2004 - textile suit)
- SCY: Cesar Cielo Auburn 18.47 (2008 - suit worn is now banned)
USA Swimming's NCAA PageThe NCAA and USA Swimming are working together to track best times, entries, psych sheets, and more. The USA Swimming web page.
NCAA Division I Men's Swimming
- The NCAA DI Men's Championship Swim Meet
- 22-24 March 2012
- Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Seattle WA
NCAA Division I Women's Swimming
- The NCAA DI Women's Championship Swim Meet
- 15-17 March 2012
- James Martin Aquatics Center, Auburn AL
NCAA Division II Swimming
- The NCAA DII Men's and Women's Championship Swim Meet (a coed meet)
- 14-17 March 2012
- Mansfield ISD Natatorium, Mansfield, TX
NCAA Division III Swimming
- The NCAA DIII Men's and Women's Championship Swim Meet (it's a coed meet)
- 21-24 March 2012
- IU Natatorium, Indianapolis, IN
- The Men's and Women's NAIA Championship Swim Meet (a coed meet)
- 29 February - 3 March 2012
- Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City, OK
- The Men's and Women's NJCAA Championship Swim Meet (yes, a coed meet)
- 7-10 March 2012
- Indian River State College, Ft. Pierce, FL