Editorial coverage sponsored by SpeedoUSA
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, March 28. VERY few times will a split dominate the conversation ahead of an NCAA title, but that happened to kick off the NCAA Division I Men's Championships tonight. While Auburn took its first title in the 200-yard free relay since a four-year run from 2006-09, Southern California's Vlad Morozov turned in the fastest split of all time with a sick 17.86 for the Trojans.
The fastest free splits we had found this morning, when Morozov clocked an 18.22 for USC, were an 18.10 from Matt Targett on Auburn's second leg of its SEC title-winning 200-yard free relay in 2009. Additionally, Nathan Adrian ripped off an 18.13 anchor leg for Cal's 200-yard medley relay at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Morozov, however, proved to be in another stratosphere with his stunning swim. Could a 39 split be in the offering later tonight in the 400-yard medley relay?
Auburn's Marcelo Chierighini (18.99), James Disney-May (18.87), TJ Leon (19.06) and Kyle Owens (18.56) took home the title in 1:15.48. That's Auburn's ninth win in the event's history, tying with Stanford for the most by a single program. Auburn has now won in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2004 as well as the four-year run already mentioned.
USC's Jack Wagner (19.72), Maclin Davis (19.36), Morozov (17.86) and Dimitri Colupaev (19.28) took second overall in 1:16.22, while Michigan's Bruno Ortiz (19.45), Zack Turner (18.95), Sean Fletcher (19.30) and Miguel Ortiz (18.79) finished third in 1:16.49.
Texas (1:16.60), California (1:16.79), Stanford (1:16.99), Arizona (1:17.97) and Florida (1:18.29) also competed in the championship heat. Ohio State topped the consolation with a winning time of 1:17.69, while Louisville took 10th overall in 1:17.94.
Auburn earned the early team lead with 40 points, USC (34), Michigan (32), Texas (30) and California (28) made up the rest of the top five.