By Sharon Robb
March 29, 2014
The University of California Bears came to swim Saturday night at the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
By the third event on the final night of competition, the Bears knew the title was theirs.
Headed into the championship finals at the University of Texas’ Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center, only six points separated leader Texas and California but that all changed quickly after the first two events.
After a perfect dual-meet season and second consecutive conference title, California won its third team title in four years and fifth overall in the program’s history with 468.5 points.
Texas was second with 417.5 followed by Florida with 387 and defending champion Michigan fourth with 310. Florida State under first year coach Frankie Bradley finished 14th with 105 and University of Miami was 25th with 26 points, all in diving.
Cal had seven swimmers in the “A” finals and two in consolations. Texas had five in the “A” finals and five in consolations.
California freshman Ryan Murphy, 18, swept the backstroke events winning his second NCAA title in the 200-yard backstroke in an NCAA record 1:37.35, all but clinching the national title.
The Bolles alum and race favorite led from the start and was ahead of American record pace by half a second until the final five yards. Murphy also re-broke his 17-18 national age group record of 1:38.15.
Cal teammate Jacob Pedley was fourth in 1:39.59. Murphy and Pedley earned 35 points for the Bears. After the backstroke and mile, the Bears led Texas, 364.54-349.5.
“It’s all about the team title,” Murphy said. “We did everything we could do to contribute to the team. It was a great start to the evening. I hope we can keep rolling. It would be awesome if we did make a difference for the team title in this race.”
Arizona’s Kevin Cordes stole a little of California’s thunder with his second American record of the meet.
Cordes won the 200-yard breaststroke in an American, NCAA and U.S. Open record 1:48.66, breaking the record by 2/100ths of a second.
It was Cordes 11th American short course record in the last two years.
After the first 50, Cordes was a second ahead of American record pace, taking five strokes per 25. With clean walls and perfect streamline, he built a three-body length lead over some of the best breaststrokers in the world.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Cordes said. “It hasn’t really set in yet. I just go out there every day and try to improve. It’s just about different strategies, learning to swim and execute.”
After the breaststroke, Cal had a 412.5-370.5 lead.
In other championship races:
1,650-yard freestyle: Defending champion Connor Jaeger of Michigan led from wire-to-wire to win in a pool record 14:29.27. Cal senior Jeremy Bagshaw, who swam in an earlier heat, finished second in 14:39 to score 17 points for the Bears in their title run. After the event, California led Texas by 11, 329.5-318.5. Florida sophomore Arthur Frayler was third in 14:43.08.
100-yard freestyle: Brazilian Joao De Lucca of Louisville fought off fellow Brazilian Marcelo Chierighini of Auburn to win in 41.70. He is the first swimmer to sweep the 100 and 200 freestyle titles since Gustavo Borges accomplished the feat in 1995. Florida State senior and Florida Gold Coast swimmer Paul Murray was 20th in 42.70. Chierighini had broken the pool record in prelims in 41.52. Cal’s lead was 385.5-365.5 over Texas.
200-yard butterfly: South African Dylan Bosch, a sophomore at Michigan, knocked off Florida’s Marcin Cieslak to win in an NCAA and U.S. Open record of 1:39.33. Cieslak was second in 1:40.19. Florida State junior Connor Knight, a Florida Gold Coast swimmer, won the “B” final in 1:42.25.
“I had a pretty good feeling I could get it,” Bosch said. “This is the fastest meet in the world. It is crazy. I always thought I had a chance to get the record. I wanted to do it for my teammates. We all train together so well. Records are there to be broken. Just to be in the books and written into history is a great feeling.”
10-meter platform diving: Defending champion Nick McCrory of Duke nailed his final dive to make history as the only diver ever to win four consecutive NCAA platform titles. The Olympic bronze medalist finished with 454.85 that included a 10 on his final dive. Rafael Quintero of Arizona was second with 452.40 points.
“I was up there doing the math in my head what scores I had to average, I knew it was a tall order,” said McCrory, who scratched from 3-meter with an injury. “I tried to do my best. It was better than I thought when I hit the water. For me this is huge. I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out at Duke.”
400-yard freestyle relay: With two freshmen duking it out on the anchor leg for Auburn and N.C. State, Auburn, led by freshman Kyle Darmody knocked off a stacked field to win the final event of the night in a meet record 2:48.33. Cal was second in 2:49.48 and N.C. State, with freshman Areas Schiellerup on anchor leg, was third in 2:49.50.
In all, 56 schools and 270 participants—235 swimmers and 35 divers—competed in the three-day meet.
For those who would like to again watch the NCAA Men and Women Swimming and Diving Championships, ESPNU is re-broadcasting the women’s meet on April 2 at 9 p.m., April 3 at 11 p.m. and April 11 at 10 p.m. The men’s meet will be re-broadcast on April 9 at 8 p.m., April 10 at two times, 1 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org