By Richie Krzyzanowski
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 8. THE final day of prelims at the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships in Birmingham is complete, and another NCAA D2 record fell by the wayside.
Women's 100 free
Incarnate Word's Tamiris Nascimento posted the top time in the morning with a 50.22, but has plenty of competition heading into the finale as first through eighth is separated by a mere .76 seconds. Ashland's Julie Widmann (50.35), Drury's Wai Ting “Janet” Yu (50.66), and Alaska's Bente Heller (50.70) make up the rest of the top four qualifiers. Yu, meanwhile, who had been in and out of the meet after recently tearing her ACL, could actually contend for an NCAA title tonight in what has to be one of the gutsiest NCAA performances ever. Nascimento and Widmann, meanwhile, will battle again similar to their epic 50 free contest on the first night.
Men's 100 free
Drury senior Vladimir Sidorkin had a solid swim this morning, leading his heat from the start and is the heavy favorite this evening after leading the way with a 43.92. Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez (44.12) OBU's Marcus Schlesinger (44.45) and Clarion's Joseph Ward (44.55) turned in the second through fourth-place qualifiers. The big question tonight is whether Sidorkin can take down the NCAA D2 record of 42.61 set by Andrey Seryy of Wayne State last year.
Women's 200 back
Wingate's Kathryn Pheil posted the top time in the morning with a 1:57.89, about a second short of the NCAA D2 record of 1:56.90 set by Florida Southern's Mary O'Sullivan in 2011. Queens University's Caroline Arakelian (1:58.72), SCSU's Amanda Thomas (1:59.38), and Wayne State's Ana Azambuja (1:59.60) qualified second through fourth, and all the top four swimmers have the potential to put for an NCAA title and quite possibly the record. Pheil was on pace to down the record this morning through 150 yards.
Men's 200 back
The top seed heading into the finale tonight is Drury's Daniel Swietlicki. He posted a time of 1:44.80, and is ahead of the three-time defending champion in the event, Florida Southern's Jeffrey Halfacre. Halfacre is looking for a career sweep in the event, and qualified second in 1:45.05. After the top two, the rest of the top eight could create the fastest heat in NCAA D2 history in the event. The field includes three men from Florida Southern (Halfacre, Thomas Nguyen (1:46.37), and Luis Rojas (1:46.67)), two from UIW (Andrii Nikishenko (1:45.46) and Daniel Torres Samaniego (1:46.37)), as well with two from Drury (Swietlicki and Jordi Montseny Diez (1:46.11)).
Women's 200 breast
After last night's NCAA record-breaking swim in the 100, Simon Fraser freshman Mariya Chekanovych is back with the top swim in the longer distance event (2:14.88). She already made history as Simon Fraser's first NCAA titlist in the Canadian school's history, and likely will become its first two-time winner as the rest of the field looks to be battling for second. Drury's Agnieszka Ostrowska (2:17.05), St. Cloud State's Kellyn Craig (2:17.62), and Drury's Ekaterina Alyabyeva (2:17.84) qualified second through fourth. Chekanovych could be gunning for the NCAA D2 record of 2:12.89 set by Wayne State's Ana Gonzalez Pena in 2011, and just needs to get out a bit faster than usual. She has the backhalf to take down the record, having split a 1:09.34 coming home this morning.
Men's 200 breast
After taking ninth in the consolation heat of the 100-yard breast last night, UC San Diego's Nicholas Korth posted a 53.08 that would have finished third overall. This morning, Korth did not make the same mistake in the longer distance event, clocking a 1:56.23 for the top seed. He's just .12 seconds off Grand Canyon's Eetu Karvonen's NCAA D2 record of 1:56.11 set a year ago, a time likely to tumble this evening. Karvonen qualified second in a time of 1:57.59, while UIW's Thiago Parravicini (1:57.76) and Drury's Kacper Pelcynski (1:57.98) took third and fourth.
Women's 400 free relay
Drury made a statement in the 400-yard free relay, by claiming the top seed in 3:23.88 by Tinsley Andrews (51.63), Leah Reed (51.22), Wai Ting “Janet” Yu (49.68), and anchor leg Tiffany Bell (50.35). Again, Yu looked blazingly fast for the relay considering she's operating without an ACL in one of her knees. Tampa (3:24.15), Grand Canyon (3:25.19), and Incarnate Word (3:26.28) qualified second through fourth in what could be an exciting finish.
Men's 400 free relay
Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez (44.05), Krzysztof Wilk (43.93), Vladislav Paskas (44.85) and anchor leg Oscar Pereiro (43.56) clipped an NCAA D2 record in prelims with a top time of 2:56.39. That swim lowered the record by .03 seconds, besting the 2:56.42 clocked by Drury in 2012. Wingate (2:57.45), Drury (2:57.51), Florida Southern (2:58.32), and GCU (2:58.45) all will be chasing Bridgeport tonight as they look for not only the NCAA title, but also to make Bridgeport's NCAA D2 record short lived.
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