March 19, 2010

By Judd Spicer

Special to

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Day Three of the Division III Swimming and Diving Championships began with a lone trumpeter blowing out the national anthem before diving off of the 10-meter board into a pool smoked with dry ice. The spectacular onset of the eve set the stage for another night of inspired performances at Minnesota's University Aquatic Center.

And there was no waiting for new history.

In the first swim of the night, John Dillon of Middlebury College (Vermont) followed up a stellar prelim time by setting a new NCAA championship record in the men's 200 butterfly. Dillon's 1:45.01 broke the longest-standing record coming into these championships, that of Kenyon College's Pedro Monteiro, who recorded a 1:45.19 prelim time in 1997 before winning the event in the finals. Monteiro's '97 win was his third of four NCAA titles in the 200 'fly.

"To be honest, I don't remember a single thing about the race," said a collected, but glowing Dillon, who added that he was unaware that he had just broken the event's longest-standing record. "I've swum that race 100 times; it's just muscle memory at this point. ... I just went in there and did what I practice every day.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Dillon added of his new record. "I'm happy to represent my school. We're a pretty small school, so I'm excited to get our name out there."

Record breaking has become a trend this week. In the women's 200 butterfly, Logan Todhunter of Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) set a record with a swim of 1:57.46. In Thursday's 100 butterfly finals, Todhunter took the title with a finals time of 53.56 after recording an NCAA record of 52.94 in the finals. The two wins made it a "cap trick" for the sophomore, who began the championships with a win in the 200 IM on Wednesday.

In the 100 yard backstroke events, Kalamazoo (Mich.) College's Paul Ellis, who was laned next to last year's winner John Thomas of Johns Hopkins University, took the race with a time of 48.36. Thomas finished second.

On the women's side, senior Olivia Zaleski of Denison College (Granville, Ohio) defended her 2008-09 victory with a winning time of 55.24. On Wednesday, Zaleski was the first swimmer on the Big Red's repeat win the 200 medley relay, just as she was on Thursday for the Big Red's title defense relay win in the 400 medley relay.

"I knew ever since last year that it was going to be a challenge," Zaleski said of her title defense in the 100. "When you come into an event as a first time swimmer, you never have any expectations, but as soon as you win or you do well, people set expectations that you're supposed to achieve. Wrapping my mind around that this year was something that I struggled with. But I had my sights set on it since day one."

Aided by Zeleski's performance and a narrow Big Red victory over Emory (Atlanta) in the raucous 800 freestyle relay, Denison (346 points) enters the final day of competition trailing Emory (371.5) by just 25.5 points, narrowing the gap after trailing by 46 entering day three. Williams College is third with 297 points.

On the men's side, buoyed by senior David Lazarus' individual win in the 100 breaststroke and a team win in the 800 relay, Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio) extended its lead over second-place Emory University as the Lords close in on their 31st consecutive D III title. Behind Kenyon's mammoth 502 points, the Eagles are perched with 222.5, while third-place Denison has 212.