The Gophers' Max McHugh won his third consecutive title in the 100-yard breaststroke on Friday night at the NCAA swimming and diving championships.
Swimming in his home pool, the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center, McHugh, a fifth-year senior from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., touched in 50 seconds flat. His time was a bit slower than the NCAA record of 49.49 set by Indiana's Ian Finnerty in 2018 but his best this season and third best of his college career. He went under 50 seconds twice in this meet a year ago.
Indiana's Van Mathias was second in 50.60 seconds.
McHugh, seeded second behind Florida's Aleksas Savickas, had the fastest time (50.26) in the 100 breaststroke preliminaries held midday while Mathias was next (50.57).
"We've known [the NCAA championships] would be here for two years at least," McHugh said, "so that's been in the back of my head for a while. It means a lot to my family, my friends, my teammates, so this is more for them than anyone.
"This [title] is definitely the most special," McHugh added. "Winning in my home pool that I've trained in day in and day out, it's hard to put into words."
McHugh led throughout the 100 breaststroke, going out in 23.37 seconds and swimming the last 50 yards in 26.63 seconds — only one other swimmer was under 27 seconds.
This was McHugh's fourth NCAA title overall — he won the 200 breaststroke as a junior two years ago — tying him with Steve Jackman, a Gophers standout in the 1960s, for the most individual NCAA championships in program history.
Next McHugh will try for a fifth NCAA title on Saturday in the 200 breaststroke. He is seeded third behind Arizona State's Leon Marchand, the defending champion in the event, and Savickas.
Marchand, a sophomore from Toulouse, France, has been the swimmer of the meet so far.
Friday, the third day, he won the 400 individual medley in 3:28.82 — an NCAA record. Cal's Hugo Gonzalez was the defending champion, but he finished second (3:34.66), almost six seconds behind the Frenchman.
It was Marchand's second individual title so far. He won the 200 IM on the second day in NCAA record time and swan on two runner-up relays for the Sun Devils the first day.
"Before I was scared of not finishing, but you build this confidence by training hard," Marchand told Swimming World magazine after breaking his own record in winning the 200 IM. "I have been able to take it out faster every race. We can change swimming by taking it out faster than we think."
Indiana had a good night in the pool, too, with two champions. Brendan Burns won the 100 backstroke (44.29, pool record) after a runner-up finish last year and Andrew Capobianco took first in 3-meter diving (522.60 points) for the third straight year.
Other winners were Virginia Tech's Youssef Ramadan in the 100 butterfly (43.15) — the Hokies' first individual title ever — and Texas' Luke Hobson in the 200 freestyle (1:30.43). Hobson won the 500 freestyle the day before and also swam on the Longhorns' winning 800 freestyle relay.
Florida won the 400 medley relay (2:58.32), setting the sixth NCAA record in the 14 events held so far. Indiana and Arizona State placed second and third, respectively, and also had times faster than the former record.
Defending champion Cal stands first in the team race with 315 points, followed by Arizona State (302) and Texas (292).
Other U finishes
Junior Kaiser Neverman of the Gophers set a school record in the 100 butterfly. His time of 46.02 seconds put him in 33rd place.
Freshman diver Drew Bennett was 43rd on the 3-meter springboard with 302.35 points.
On Saturday, Neverman will swim in the the 200 butterfly, sophomore Bar Soloveychik and junior Chris Nagy in the the 1,650 freestyle and Bennett will compete in platform diving.
Other events on the fourth and final day, besides the 200 breaststroke with McHugh, are the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay.