By Kevin Noth, SwimInfo Special Correspondent
Photos by Tim Morse
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., March 25. OUS Mellouli of Southern California used an opening 100 butterfly split of 50.82 to immediately take the lead in the 400 individual medley at the NCAA Championships.
Mellouli touched .74 ahead of the field after his butterfly leg, but saw his lead slowly dwindle as Robert Margalis of Georgia gained on him during the backstroke.
The event became a two-man race during the third leg as both swimmers continued to distance themselves from the field during the breaststroke. Mellouli began his freestyle leg about a body length ahead of Margalis, and though the Georgia senior clocked the fastest freestyle split in the field at 50.66, he could not catch Mellouli who recorded a final split of 50.73, touching in 3:39.19. Margalis followed close behind in a time of 3:39.93.
Interestingly, both swimmers moved up one position from their finishes in last year’s event. Mellouli was the NCAA 400 IM runnerup in 2004, while Margalis finished third.
Eric Shanteau of Auburn was seeded first for the evenings event, but finished in third, recording a time of 3:42.44. Justin Mortimer (Minnesota) finished in fourth and Pat Mellors (Virginia) took fifth. Timothy Liebhold (Wisconsin), Chuck Sayao (Michigan) and Brian Hartley (Florida) placed sixth through eighth, respectively.