By Phillip Whitten
December 2. DAY TWO of the Texas Invitational was much like Day One: times were very fast and the University of Arizona continued to dominate both the men’s and women’s events.
Nation-leading times were recorded in seven of the eight individual events contested this evening; only the men’s 100 back failed to produce a national #1 performance.
Arizona got the ball rolling with a convincing win in the 200 medley relay, touching in 1:25.93. Simon Burnett, the British freestyle import, led off with a 21.86 backstroke leg, giving the Wildcats a big lead over USC, and the Cats never challenged. The Trojans were second in 1:27.13.
USC’s Ous Mellouli continued his brilliant swimming, winning the 400 IM in a nation-leading 3:43.66, almost five seconds ahead of Michigan’s Peter Vanderkaay. Yesterday, these same two men battled it out in the 500 free, with Mellouli winning as both men recorded 4:12s.
Arizona’s Simon Burnett, winner of the 50 free yesterday, put Arizona back on top with a very fast 1:33.57 in the 200 free. He was pushed all the way by Michigan’s Vanderkaay, swimming back-to-back events. Burnett touched in 1:33.57 to Vanderkaay’s 1:33.97 the nation’s top two times this season, with Michigan’s Davis Tarwater third in 1:34.99.
Arizona’s Ivan Barnes then ripped the field with a stunning 52.87 – easily the #1 NCAA time this year — to take the 100 breast. USC’s Misi Flaskay was second in 53.73. Barnes split 24.94 – 27.93.
In the only event that did not produce a #1 time, Texas Aquatics’ Aaron Peirsol, the world champion and world record-holder for 100 meters backstroke, eked out a victory in the 100 yards back. Third at the 50, Peirsol did not pass Arizona’s Albert Subirats until the final 10 yards. At the wall it was Peirsol, 47.34, with Subirats at 47.48.
With its unparalleled depth in the middle distance events, Michigan breezed to victory in the 800 free relay in 8:22.76. USC, anchored by Mellouli’s 1:34.40, was a distant second at 6:28.54.
The Arizona women began Day 2 just as their men did: with a 1.2-second win over USC in the 200 medley relay, 1:39.81 to 1:40.97.
Andrea Wiesner of Wisconsin broke up the Arizona-USC monopoly of the individual events by taking the 400 IM in 4:14.25, with Pacific’s Ja-Neil Bragg right behind at 4:15.33. However, Arizona’s Whitney Myers recorded a national #1 time in prelims with her 4:13.25, then scratched the final.
The women’s 200 free produced an exciting three-way battle, as the lead changed hands several times. Arizona’s Lacey Nymeyer had used the third 50 to build up a lead, then held off a strong challenge from Hawaii’s Mela Schlanger to win, as Whitney Myers faded slightly. Nymeyer touched in 1:45.73 to Schlanger’s 1:45.96 and Myers’ 1:46.06, the #1, 2 and 3 times thus far this season in collegiate swimming.
USC freshman Rebecca Soni swam a lifetime best and a national #1 time of 1:00.35 to take the 100 breast. Arizona’s Erin Siepen was a full second behind, 1:01.37, to finish second.
The Wildcats’ Jenna Gresdal uncorked a crowd-pleasing 52.63 to turn away a strong challenge from ASU’s Catlin Andrews (53.90) and win the 100 back, as the two Zonies recorded the nation’s top two times of the 2005-06 season. Gresdal split 25.47 – 27.16.
USC and Wisconsin battled head-to-head for over 600 yards before the Trojans pulled away to win the 800 free relay in 7:15.33. Wisconsin touched in 7:17.34.