Gophers swimmer McHugh wins NCAA 100 Breast for third straight year

Swimming in his home pool on the eve of the completion of his collegiate career, Minnesota fifth-year senior Max McHugh accomplished his three-peat in the 100 breast Friday night at the 2023 NCAA Division I Championships.

McHugh was the top seed after swimming 50.26 in Friday morning’s prelims. He came back in the finals against a loaded field that featured four other swimmers that also went under 51.00.

Despite the worthy adversaries, the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., native led wire-to-wire. He went out in 23.37, .02 ahead of his competitors. McHugh then covered the final 50 yards in 26.63 seconds, while only one other swimmer was under 27.00 over the same stretch and that was still .32 behind McHugh.

McHugh touched the wall at exactly 50.00, the third fastest time of his career, trailing only his two sub-50 performances at last year’s NCAA Championships. The time was also .60 ahead of the field.

With the win, McHugh becomes the seventh male in NCAA history to win three straight 100 breast titles, the first since Arizona’s Kevin Cordes won four straight from 2012-15. McHugh is also the eighth swimmer to win at least three 100 breast titles in his career.

“It’s hard to put into words,” McHugh said of winning in his home pool. “We’ve known (the NCAA Championships) would be here for two years at least, so that’s been in the back of my head for awhile. 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.”

Coupling his three-peat with his 2021 title in the 200 breast, McHugh now has four individual NCAA titles. That makes him the fifth Gopher across all sports to reach that number.

The 20 points from McHugh’s win put the Gophers’ team in 24th place. Cal leads the team competition with 315 points, followed by Arizona State at 302 and Texas with 292.