One Swimmer and Thousands of Fans

Nobody's talking about who's sick now.  At the first night of the NCAA Championships, the storyline turned to a tight team race and a storybook performance from a local kid.  Other highlights on the night included a Wolverine with a broken hand taking to the water for valuable team points, a small Gator squad going to the blocks time and time again for great swims, and a Longhorn freshman finding his way to the wall first. 

200 Freestyle Relay
It would be hard to ask for a more exciting start to the final meet of the season. Cal jumped out to an early lead on Nathan Adrian’s 18.99 opening salvo, but Texas closed the gap a little at the 125 only to see Auburn sneak past them for second behind Cal’s winning 1:15.71. Stanford was fourth and the speedsters from Kentucky moved up to 5th. Arizona moved up one spot from this morning to sixth and Florida and UVA finished out the heat. Minnesota led from wire to wire in the consol heat to finish ninth.

500 Freestyle
All kinds of drama in this one, with the 1650 all-stars in every other lane of the consol heat we had every race strategy imaginable. OSU’s Stefan Sigrist went out fast and hung on for dear life as an energized Matt McLean from UVA dropped the fastest final split to get within .09 as runner up in the consol heat. In the finals USC’s Clement Lefert tried the same approach as Sigrist, but without the hometown love from the crowd. Lefert held up until the final 100 when Jean Basson charged from lane eight and Conor Dwyer came up right next to him.

Dwyer out touched defending champion Basson by .01 and Lefert finished .12 back with Stanford’s David Mosko getting in on the action .15 behind Lefert. In total, the top four finalists were .28 apart- what a race.

OSU’s Markovic added to Sigrist’s points with a 5th place finish while the Maize and Blue had Dan Madwed in 5th and Hassan Abdel Khalik in 8th. Abdel Khalik started in the water with a broken hand and had nothing to offer the field but a whole lot of heart and eleven points. Balas Gersak gave it everything he had to make it to the final out of the early heats and finished 7th tonight. Gersak’s swim from the morning rivaled Cal’s Josh Daniels’ 50 freestyle for the prelim swim of the day.

200 Individual Medley
Bold races have set the tone for the early races and the IM was no exception with six swimmers at 48 or better in the first 100, but the 6th seeded Martin Liivamagi from Cal was laying in wait at 49.02 and passed everyone on the breaststroke. However, even with the great breaststroke split Liivamagi could not hold off Austin Surhoff and Shaune Fraser who touched one-two with Austin holding a .04 advantage over the Gator Fraser who in turn beat Liivamagi to the wall by .06.

“I was happy just to make it in the championship final in prelims.  I figured with the loaded field we had at the NCAA Championships that it was going to take everything I had in prelims to get into that final," said Surhoff. "Tonight, I knew it was time to swim the race the way I know how to swim it.  I wanted to take it out nice and easy and save what I had left to race at the end.  That’s what Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik have trained me to do.  They have trained me to race.  All I wanted to do was race and have fun.”    

For Kubik the win wasn't all that surprising but prior to the race they tried to keep things loose. "We joked that the pool is still 25y just like NBAC," Kubik explained.  "He's quite a competitor be it in games on campus or in the water."

Every finish in this meet is ridiculous and I am reminded of my high school coach Neil Anderson’s words of wisdom “shave down and grow out your nails.” Omar Pinzon was fourth, adding to Florida’s points total followed by two Wolverines with Tyler Clary in fifth and Andre Schultz in sixth. Texas’ Ricky Berens and Georgia Tech’s Gal Nevo rounded out the top-8. Arizona’s Jack Brown shaved three tenths off of his prelim time to win the consol heat in 1:44.05.

50 Freestyle

Well you’ve all heard of the SI curse, well apparently the opposite is true for This morning we featured a story on Cincinnati Bearcat Josh Schneider who finished third in this morning’s preliminaries. Tonight the Bearcats’ lone entrant in the meet jumped out to a 9.27 first 25 split just behind favorite Nathan Adrian’s 9.20 and even with Texas’ Jimmy Feigen, but Schneider absolutely jumped off the bulkhead and out split Adrian by .16 to win on the final length. After the race Schneider let us all know how he felt “I feel complete. Complete! I can’t finish the season any better than that. I can’t finish my senior year any better than that. The race was perfect.” Hopefully the Cincinnati Athletic Department will reward the Bearcat program with a restoration of some well deserved scholarship dollars. Adam Brown from Auburn took third, followed by Feigen, Auburn’s Gideon Louw, surprise finalist Josh Daniels from Cal in sixth and the two Cardinal Dunford and Colville followed in seventh and eighth. Graeme Moore of Cal powered to a 19.29 to win the consol heat just ahead of Minnesota’s Michael Richards. Just one final note on Schneider, the Bearcat has not lost the 50 all year…..all year.


These points will be critical to the team race and Texas picked up the most points with a win in the consol heat and a third place finish out of Drew Livingston in the finals to garner 25 points. Nobody else in the race for wood had anyone up, but Auburn had Kelly Marx tie for 11th to pick up 5.5 points. Purdue once again stole the diving show with David Boudia repeating as champion and David Colturi in sixth. Terry Horner from FSU was second, Duke got on the board with a fourth place finish out of Nick McCrory and the diving only program at Miami had Rueben Ross place fifth. Brandon Watson from BYU, who may not be able to compete in platform due to religious convictions finished seventh followed by Grant Nel of Texas A&M.

400 Medley Relay

Whoa, Eugene Godsoe of Stanford sets the pool record in the 100 back with his lead-off, but that was the last time anyone’s eyes strayed from lane four. Cal put on a clinic in the middle of the pool with a 50.91 breaststroke split out of Dugonjic and a 44.54 split on the fly leg from Tom Shields, but those were just the warm-up act for Nathan Adrian who dropped the third fastest 100 free split in history anchoring in 40.89 leaving backstroke as the only leg where they didn’t out split the field. (No disrespect to Guy Barnea who had a very respectable 46 lead-off). Auburn landed in second three body lengths behind Adrian and the rest of the Bears with another Pac-10 squad, Stanford, in third. One has to believe that Stanford would have given the Bears a run with Staab in their foursome. Florida, Texas, Arizona finished four, five six and UVA moved past a revised Texas A&M line-up for seventh. Dino’s Cavs are looking good for another top-10 finish.

Team Standings/Quotes

The Texas Longhorns closed out the evening in first with 145 points, while California stands in second with 139 points. Rounding out the top five is Florida (118), Auburn (114.5) and Stanford (106).

“It was a great team effort and I’m really proud of the way they fought,” said Auburn head coach Brett Hawke said. “Everybody stepped up and moved forward tonight and did what they needed to do. Tomorrow is a crucial morning for us. We need to bring our A game and compete.”

“We had a really great first day – our best first day in a long time,” said Florida head coach Gregg Troy said. “We thought we could have been a little faster in the final relay (fourth), but we swam well the whole way through tonight, including multiple swims for Shaune (Fraser). I also can’t say enough about Conor. He had a great race. We have to rest up tonight and come back ready to race tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Final Thoughts

Anyone remember last week and one of the greatest NCAA Championship finishes of all time? We could have just as much fun this week watching this thing come down to the wire. This was a good day for the Golden Bears and tomorrow is solid as well, but that was true at Pac-10s as well and Stanford staged a major comeback on the final 200 laden day. They certainly capitalized on the day with a second place point total, Florida followed in third and Auburn is a strong fourth only 40 points behind the leader. Stanford, who hasn’t finished out of the wood since before California was a state, is fifth and I think we can count on them climbing back into familiar territory tomorrow and Sunday. However, the lesson from last week is diving and the Longhorns have a great diving coach and divers to go along with two of the best swimming coaches in the land coaching some mighty talented swimmers who have a six point lead over the field. Good night Columbus.