AUSTIN, Texas — Records fell faster than scoreboards could flash them Friday at the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships.
Not every event produced a new mark, but three of the seven scored swimming finals did – the 200-yard medley relay, the 400 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
Once competition ended and pools calmed, the host Texas Longhorns retained the lead they had forged in Thursday’s opening events at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center. Texas remained first on Friday with 318.5 points after 14 scored events. California (312.5), Florida (279), Michigan (225) and Georgia (200) rounded out the top five, respectively.
Still, Texas head coach Eddie Reese chafed at the six-point margin separating his Longhorns from the Cal Bears.“[Saturday]’s going to be a heck of a day for everybody,” he said. “We line up equally across the board.”
“Obviously there’s a lot of teams swimming lights-out right now,” said California freshman Ryan Murphy, who won Friday’s 100-yard backstroke and was first off the blocks for the Bears’ winning 200 medley relay team. “We’re obviously swimming very well.”
The first new entry in Friday’s record books came from that 200 medley relay, also the night’s first final at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swimming Center. Murphy and teammates Chuck Katis, Tony Cox and Tyler Messerschmidt won in 1:22.83, erasing the American record of 1:22.02. Texas finished second, followed by Auburn.
“Relays are the most fun part of swimming,” Murphy said, adding how the significance of the moment struck him as he and his teammates waited on deck for the start. “’Wow – I get to swim this with some of my best friends.’ That’s really special. Everybody says that when you get to college and it’s really true. It’s just adds to the intensity.”
Georgia sophomore Chase Kalisz was next, erasing the NCAA, American, U.S. Open and meet record of 3:35.98, set March 2009 by Michigan’s Tyler Clary. Kalisz clocked in at 3:34.50. In comparison, second-place Dan Wallace of Florida finished in 3:38.17.
“It’s been a goal of mine all season long so to finally accomplish it, I couldn't be happier right now,” Kalisz said. “I feel like I’m on top of the world right now.”
Already an NCAA champion – he won the 400-yard IM as a freshman in 2013 – Kalisz was happy to add a 200 IM title after finishing 10th in the event at last year’s NCAA meet. Several semesters’ worth of fine-tuning his backstroke and butterfly specifically paid off Friday in Austin.“It’s night and day compared to last year and that’s by far my best improvement,” Kalisz said.
And, the winning part never gets old.
“Obviously when you set goals, you have to believe in yourself,” Kalisz said of his second NCAA title. “I had an idea, but luckily it worked out for me [Friday].”
Arizona junior Kevin Cordes was Friday’s third record-breaker, winning his second consecutive NCAA title in the 100 breaststroke. Like Georgia’s Kalisz, he erased all four records – NCAA, American, U.S. Open and meet – with his time of 50.04. Unlike Kalisz, the record he erased, he had set in Friday’s preliminary heat – 50.55.
“I took more strokes tonight than I did this morning,” Cordes said. “I was trying to go after it.”
The victory also assuaged any regret over a disqualification in Thursday’s 400 medley relay preliminaries, which cost the Wildcats a chance to compete in that Thursday-night event. Cordes, the second swimmer in Arizona’s lineup, was cited for an early takeoff in the Wildcats’ 400 medley relay preliminary heat. Nailing Friday’s 100 breaststroke title was a bit of give-back to his team.
“Absolutely,” he said, “It didn’t feel good when that happened. Just tried to put it behind me as soon as possible – had a lot of swimming to do.”
He has more on Saturday, as the strong favorite to repeat as NCAA titlist in the 200 breaststroke. But, he knows he likely won’t be the only record-breaker on the final day of competition.
“This has been a really fast meet,” Cordes said. “I don’t I’ve ever seen it this fast – great venue, great fans. It’s been really great.”