Three American Records Fall At NCAA Men’s Championships; Murphy Wins First NCAA Title As Freshman
By Sharon Robb
March 28, 2014
On an amazing night of fast swimming, three American records were shattered Friday night at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
Headed into the third and final night of competition at the University of Texas’ Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center, Texas leads with 318.5 followed by California with 312.5, Florida with 279 and Michigan with 225. Florida State is tenth with 96.
Three American records, two individual and one relay, fell on Friday night.
In the 400-yard individual medley, defending champion and top-seed Chase Kalisz of Georgia pulled away from the field to win in an American, NCAA, U.S. Open and pool record of 3:34.50, taking nearly two seconds off the previous record.
After a solid first half, the 6-foot-4 Kalisz came on strong in the back half on the breaststroke and freestyle legs to post the fastest time in the event’s history.
“The whole season I was looking at that record,” Kalisz said. “I told my coach that’s what I wanted to get. We worked on my front half. I got it done today. I couldn’t be happier.”
Florida junior Dan Wallace was second in 3:38.17. Florida teammate Carlos Omana, a Florida Gold Coast swimmer for Metro Aquatics, was 36th in 3:49.69.
Two-time defending champion Kevin Cordes of Arizona blistered his own American, NCAA and U.S. Open record in the 100-yard breaststroke to win his third NCAA title in the event in 50.04, winning by nearly a second and a half. He went out in 23.58, his fastest first half ever.
Cordes has now broken the record seven times in the last two years.
Cordes first broke his own American, NCAA and U.S. Open record during morning prelims in 50.55. The junior’s splits were 23.95 and 26.60. His previous best was 50.70.
Cordes now has the four fastest times in the history of the event.
In the 200-yard medley relay, California, which barely made it into the final, held off Texas and Arizona in an exciting battle to win in an American and pool record 1:22.83, lowering its own 2013 record of 1:23.17.
Bolles alum and freshman Ryan Murphy gave the Bears an early lead on the opening leg. Other relay members were Chuck Katis, Tony Cox and Tyler Messerschmidt with a quick anchor leg to the wall.
Texas was second in 1:23.30. Florida State with Pavel Sankovich, Jared Pike and Florida Gold Coast swimmers Connor Knight and Paul Murray was fourth in 1:24.57 and earned All-America honors, edging fifth-place Florida in 1:24.82 with Christian-Paul Homer, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak and Bradley deBorde. Arizona was disqualified for an early takeoff on its second exchange.
With a great back-half surge, Murphy won his first individual NCAA title as a freshman in the 100-yard backstroke.
The PAC-12 champion, top-seed and youngest in the field at 18, won in a best time 44.63.
Murphy also lowered his own national age group record he had set on Thursday’s leadoff medley relay leg.
Before Murphy’s race, California and Texas were tied in the team standings. After his swim, the Bears moved ahead of Texas, 286.5-270.5. Florida was third with 245 and Michigan fell out of contention with 195.
“Going into the last turn I was hurting pretty bad but all the practice paid off there,” Murphy said. “Obviously, the team title is our goal and to help contribute to that makes it all that much better.”
Defending backstroke champion and junior David Nolan of Stanford was fourth in 45.21.
Heading into Friday night’s finals, Texas had a one-point lead over California with Florida and Michigan close behind.
Defending NCAA diving champion Nick McCrory was forced to withdraw from the 3-meter springboard competition after failing his third dive. Minnesota Matt Barnard hit his right heel on the board and was taken to the hospital with a splint on his right leg.
University of Florida was dealt a blow on the second day, losing 17 points from its seeds including fifth-seeded Sebastien Rousseau unable to make the “A” final in the 400-yard individual medley. Rousseau came back to win the “B” final by a best time by half a second in 3:40.77.
The Gators are not without their loyal teammates who did not qualify for NCAAs including Florida Gold Coast swimmers Luke Torres and Ryan Rosenbaum, painted with orange and blue Gator colors and hard to miss in the stands.
“The coaches were really excited about us coming,” said Torres, who drove to Texas with several of his teammates.
Michigan lost valuable points when its fourth-seeded 200-yard medley relay dropped to ninth place and lost its projected 30 points.
There have been 16 disqualifications in the relays after two days. ESPN analyst Rowdy Gaines said he has never seen anything like it in his 30 years of coming to the NCAA meet.
In other championship races:
100-yard butterfly: Florida senior Marcin Cieslak attacked the final wall to knock off an impressive field to win his second NCAA title in a best time 44.87, seventh fastest time in history. He also won the 200 IM earlier in the meet.
“I just tried to go as hard and fast as I could,” Cieslak said. “There is not a lot of time to think in the 100 fly. Every race counts at this meet. I just tried to stay relaxed.”
Florida State senior Pavel Sankovich was second in 45.00, also a best time. Top seed Tim Phillips, looking for Ohio State’s first NCAA title since 1965, was third in 45.10. FSU teammate and Florida Gold Coast swimmer Connor Knight was 19th in 46.42.
200-yard freestyle: Defending champion Joao de Lucca of Louisville defended his title in 1:31.96. Top seed Michael Wynalda of Michigan was third in 1:32.58.
“I knew those guys were coming for me, but I was so in my zone, I just did my race,” said de Lucca, who works with assistant coach and three-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov, a former Florida Gold Coast swimmer.
Also in the 100-yard breaststroke, Florida State freshman and Florida Gold Coast swimmer Jason Coombs was 20th in 53.26.
3-meter springboard diving: Texas freshman Michael Hixon nailed his final dive for more than 90 points to win his second NCAA title in two days with 457.20 for six rounds and gave the Longhorns another 20 points and put them back in the lead with 290.5 points to the Cal Bears’ 286.5. Hixon finished with 40 points for the Longhorns.
Stanford’s defending champion Kris Ipsen was fourth with 394.90. University of Miami fifth-year senior Zach Nees finished fifth with 386 points.
“The best thing to do was stay in the dive and take it one dive at a time,” Hixon said. “Our goal is to win a national championship and I am just trying to do everything I can do to help that.”
800-yard freestyle relay: University of Southern California, with a strong leg from Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter, won in 6:13.09. Other relay members were Cristian Quintero, Reed Malone and Dimitri Colupaev. Defending champion Florida was second in 6:14.74. Michigan’s U.S. open record-holding relay was looking for its first title of 2014, was third in 6:16.37.
Saturday’s events are 1,650-yard freestyle, 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly, 10-meter platform diving and 400-yard freestyle relay.
Prelims are 11 a.m. and finals 7 p.m. Both sessions will be live streamed at Texassports.com.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org