TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, November 30. THE Alabama Swim team got off to a hot start at the unique Alabama Classic being held here in the Don Gambril Olympic Pool this weekend.
"We had a great first day," head coach Eric McIlquham said. "We had career best swims up and down the line and we had some truly outstanding times tonight from folks like Ida Persson, Agustina de Giovanni and Chris Perry. We just need to keep things rolling tomorrow."
The invitational, which features preliminaries and finals each day, competes over the 25 yard course, the standard for collegiate competition, including the NCAA Championships, during prelims. For finals, the competition goes to the 50-meter course, which is used at the Olympic Games. Swimmers can qualify to the NCAA Championships on either course.
Alabama went one-two in the finals of the 50-meter freestyle, with Persson, a freshman, turning in a blistering 26.11 and junior Vanessa Von der Heyde taking second with a 26.61. Persson's time was just off the NCAA "A" standard while Von der Heyde's made the "B" cut.
"That was a pretty amazing swim for Ida, especially for this time of year," McIlquham said. "She also came back and posted a tremendous butterfly split on the 400 medley (relay)."
In the 200 IM, de Giovanni, a junior, posted a career best 2:02.28 in the morning session, earning an NCAA "B" cut. She came back to win the 200m IM in finals with a 2:19.30, just off the automatic NCAA "A" cut. Senior Erin Sparks was third in the 200m IM, with a 2:22.37, earning an NCAA "B" cut of her own.
The 200 freestyle relay of Sparks, Von der Heyde, Persson and sophomore Brooke Baldi posted an NCAA "B" cut, turning in a 1:32.79 to take second place.
The men's 400m medley relay of Perry, sophomore Riley Boulden, junior Alin Mihalca and senior Mike Jones posted a time of 3:52.80 to take the win. Perry's lead off 100m backstroke leg came in at 57.61, qualifying for this Spring's U.S. Olympic Trials. Rookie Catalin Cosma posted a 3:58.16 in the 400m freestyle, earning an NCAA "B" cut, and taking second place in the process.
Special thanks to Alabama for contributing this report.