Night Swims Get Glory, Morning Swims Get the Lead

The stars were out in force tonight at the Texas A&M Student Recreation Center, site of the 2009 NCAA Championships.  It was a night that saw Ryan Lochte's name erased from one record and a rising force in American sprinting on display.  Three NCAA and US Open and two American records fell during the evening, but the day wasn't won in the evening - it was won in the morning, by a group of young Texas Longhorns who swam like seasoned veterans.  Texas won but one event on the night (diving) but by placing swimmers in each of the evening's finals, they established a significant lead after day one of the meet.

Remember when you first saw a sub-19 split?  Remember when you saw Fred Bosquet go under 19 in a flat start?  Think that having a sub-19 lead-off and three sub-19 splits would be enough to get the win?  Auburn University did just that en route to a new new NCAA and US Open record 1:14.08.  Jakob Andkjaer (18.89), Gideon Louw (18.33), Kohlton Norys (18.67) and Matt Targett (18.19) set the pace, but they weren't the only team to post a quartet of sub-19's.  Stanford and California did as well, as they went 1:14.22 and 1:15.13 respectively.  California's Nathan Adrian regained sole-posession of his American record in the 50-yard freestyle.  Stanford's Alex Coville tied Adrian's mark in the morning, but the Golden Bear beared down to go 18.76.  Texas finished fourth in 1:15.90.  The team of Dave Walters, James Feigen, Scott Jostes and Ben Vanroekel established a new American record of 1:15.90.  Tennessee (1:16.54), Arizona (1:16.68), Minnesota (1:17.65) and Florida (1:18.05) rounded out the top heat.

The 500 freestyle was a tale of two races – the first half – all Matt McClean.  The Virginian swam free and easy for the first 275 yards of the race.  Arizona’s Jean Basson and Michael Klueh of Texas were quick to give chase.  Basson’s stroke rate increased about 15-20% over the final 150 yards.  By the 400, it was all over but the shoutin’.  Klueh offered a big push in the final 50 yards – but it wasn’t enough.   After a somewhat unspectacular morning, Arizona had a big start to the night with Basson winning in 4:08.92 – just a stroke off of Peter Vanderkaay’s NCAA and US Open Marks.  Klueh was second in 4:09.32 while McClean faded to third in 4:10.41.   

Brad Ally left no doubt whatsoever as to who the best 200 IMer is.   The Florida Gator set the pace going out in 21.45 and never looking back. Nobody could compete with Ally's underwaters.   Like so many swimmers in the era of suits – the edge goes to the swimmer who can generate more power off of the walls.   Berens and Shaune Fraser were closing on Ally, but by then the race was over.  Gal Nevo snuck into fourth – and in doing so put the Yellowjackets just three points behind the Georgia Bulldogs.  Fraser finished fifth while Andre Schultz, Omar Pinzon (Florida) and Martti Aljand (Cal) rounded out the big heat.  Ally, Fraser and Omar Pinzon lifted Florida in the team race, but Texas’ Bryan Collins, by winning the consolation heat kept the Longhorns in the lead by five points.   That’s it for individual Gator scoring tonight, however.

In the 50 freestyle, Jimmy Feigen showed mad hops off of the blocks, but was passed on his breakout stroke.  Heading into the turn just a 1/10 separated , but Nathan Adrian, tonight sporting a Blue70 blistered the field on the final length to turn in an American Record 18.71.  Considering the meteoric rise of Adrian from trials swim-off winner to Olympian, Feigen, just a freshman, could be considered the ‘next Nathan Adrian’ and together the pair form the future of American swimming.  In fact the field boasted FIVE Americans – including four of the top five.  Matt Targett, the man with the fastest 50 of the year, finished third with Alex Coville – enjoying a banner day of sub-19 times, finished fourth.   In the consolation heat both Stanford’s Austin Staab and Auburns Jakob Andkjaer shook off the morning blues to share the consolation title.  Both swimmers benefitted from having clean water and both easily cruised under the vaunted 19-second mark.  That made for eight swimmers going sub-19.   

When Dave Durden puts together next year’s Christmas wish list, put a butterflier on the top of the list because a 45 just doesn’t cut it anymore.  The 400 Medley Relay was a three-team race with all three going under 3:02.  Consider the plight of Cal however.  David Russell led off with one of just three sub-46 backstroke legs and Damir Dugonjic swam a sick 50.58 breaststroke leg.  Even with Nathan Adrian going out in 19.02, however, it wasn’t enough for the Bears to overtake Auburn .  The Tigers’ Tyler McGill, from the heart of America blistered to a 43.99 butterfly split that more than made for the difference between the top two squads.  Not that the rest of the Auburn relay was anything to sneeze at.  Pascal Wollach led off in 45.32 while Adam Klein (breast-51.01) and Matt Targett (41.07) were just good enough to take the win.  

McGill’s split wasn’t the fastest on the evening though.  That belonged to Stanford’s Austin Staab.  Staab went 43.55.  The Cardinal finished third in 3:01.91 placing three squads under the previous NCAA and US Open records.  The Longhorn Olympic quartet of Peirsol, Hansen, Crocker, and Walker retain their American Record of 3:02.47 while the current Texas squad finished fourth in 3:03.92.  Those thirty points provide the margin they hold over Auburn who trails 171-141.  Stanford sits third at 130 with Florida with the current edge in the race for a trophy at 107.  

Rounding out the top ten after the first night are California (103), Arizona (92), Michigan (78), Tennessee (60), Virginia (47) and Georgia (36).