By John Lohn
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 14. DURING the coming week, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com will preview the Men's NCAA Division I Championships to be held in Minneapolis, Minn., from March 15-17. Next, take a look at a preview of the relays.
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Auburn and Northwestern are the top seeds in the 200 medley relay, with the Tigers holding the No. 1 position with a time of 1:24.63, an effort they posted at the Southeastern Conference Championships. But, Northwestern will be right there, particularly with the addition of Bruno Barbic, a transfer from Washington, to the freestyle leg. That was the leg that hurt the Wildcats last year, but is no longer a weak point.
In the 400 medley relay, Northwestern again will be a leading contender, as its opening three legs of Matt Grevers (backstroke), Mike Alexandrov (breaststroke) and Kyle Bubolz (butterfly) are among the top performers in their specialties. The Wildcats are followed as the second seed by Stanford, which boasts Hongzhe Sun on the backstroke and Ben Wildman-Tobriner anchoring. Look for Auburn and Arizona to be right there.
If its quartet clicks, and there's no reason to believe otherwise considering past performances, Auburn will be difficult to beat in the 200 free relay. Cesar Cielo headlines the Tigers' lineup, which is also likely to include Matt Targett. Northwestern, with a better chance of winning the medley relays, is the second seed and Stanford and Auburn sit third and fourth.
In the 400 free relay, Auburn, Arizona, Stanford and California are all seeded tightly in the 2:51-range and any of the squads has the capability of winning the event. As for the 800 free relay, the story is different as Texas is the favorite and likely to push the NCAA record of 6:16.25. The Longhorns went 6:18.43 at the Big 12 Champs with the unit of Dave Walters, Michael Klueh, Ricky Berens and Matt McGinnis. Arizona, the second seed, should be in the picture.