Admission Troubles at USC Force Turkey's Merve Tuncel to Seek a Fresh Start in NCAA


Admission Troubles at USC Force Turkey’s Merve Tuncel to Seek a Fresh Start in NCAA

Turkish Olympian Merve Tuncel’s plans to attend USC have been disrupted due to an unforeseen “admission issue” that was communicated to her this week. This has left the 18-year-old distance freestyle specialist in a scramble to secure a new NCAA home for the 2023-24 season.

Regrettably, Tuncel shared with SwimSwam, “Unfortunately, there was a problem with admission and they told me this week. I am currently talking with other universities. I have very little time to decide. If they had told me this at least two months ago, I wouldn’t have been in such a difficult situation.”

Last May, Tuncel committed to the Trojans, following her remarkable victories in the 400 free, 800 free, and 1500 free at the 2021 European Junior Championships, setting meet records in the latter two events. She continued her success a few months later, securing wins in those same three events at the 2022 World Junior Championships. This year, she achieved gold in the 1500 free and 800 free, along with a silver in the 400 free, at Euro Juniors.

While Tuncel’s best converted LCM-to-SCY times indicate her potential to contend for A-finals in both the 500 free and 1650 free at NCAA Championships, there remains a question about whether she can recapture her peak form from 2021, having not set a lifetime best in two years. Her times have shifted from 15:55.23 (2021) to 16:13.68 (2022) and then to 16:18.53 (2022) in the 1500 free, and from 8:21.91 (2021) to 8:24.33 (2022) to 8:35.10 (2023) in the 800 free.

Here are Tuncel’s notable LCM (SCY conversion) times:

  • 200 free: 1:59.70 (1:44.95)
  • 400 free: 4:06.25 (4:35.91)
  • 800 free: 8:21.91 (9:22.36)
  • 1500 free: 15:55.23 (15:36.50)
  • 200 fly: 2:11.54 (1:55.98)

In December of 2020, Tuncel made a remarkable debut on the international stage by shattering the world junior record in the SCM 1500 free with a time of 15:45.29 at the Turkish Nationals held in Istanbul.

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