Editorial coverage sponsored by SpeedoUSA
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, March 28. THE first session of the NCAA Division I Men's Championships is complete at the IU Natatorium, and the entire swimming community is still talking about USC's Vlad Morozov.
Morozov opened the morning by stunning those assembled on the hallowed grounds of The Nat with a sizzling 18.22 split in USC's 200-yard free relay. He then cleared 19 seconds in his individual 50 free swim, before dropping a 40.45 anchor for USC's 400-yard medley relay.
Meanwhile, the team battle definitely began to take shape. Favored Michigan went four up, six down individually. Two-time defending champion California went four up, four down, while Florida went three up, two down as one of the other teams likely looking at a top three finish.
Men's 200 free relay
The big news came by way of the Sizzling Siberian Vlad Morozov with his jaw-dropping 18.22 split for Southern California. Michigan, however, put up the top time overall in the morning. Bruno Ortiz (19.59), Zack Turk (18.99), Sean Fletcher (19.43) and Miguel Ortiz (18.79) turned in the top qualifying time with a 1:16.80.
Michigan could make some serious history, have last won this event back in 1930. Michigan won three of the first four titles in the 200 free relay from 1927-30 before the event took a long hiatus until Texas won it in 1989. Robert Walker, Frank Walaitis, Rawson Hosmer and Ivan Smith are the last Wolverines to have won this event in 1930 with a 1:37.2.
Led with Morozov's sick split, USC's Jack Wagner (19.69), Maclin Davis (19.34), Morozov (18.22) and Chase Bloch (19.59) raced to second in 1:16.84. USC has never won this relay, but could be looking to keep it in the hands of the Pacific 12 as California and Stanford have traded the last three titles. Morozov's blistering split rivals the fastest splits ever. Early research has Matt Targett closing out Auburn's NCAA record with an 18.19 in 2009 to win the NCAA title. Austin Staab also clocked an 18.28 for Stanford in that race.
Watch that race here:
Meanwhile, Nathan Adrian ripped off an 18.13 anchor leg for California's 200-yard medley relay at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Targett also turned in a blazing fast time of 18.10 as Auburn's second leg of their SEC title-winning 200-yard free relay in 2009.
Texas' Charlie Moore (19.80), Dax Hill (18.76), John Murray (19.11) and Kip Darmody (19.34) wound up third in 1:17.01. The Longhorns have won this event four previous times, with the last time being in 1996 when Brian Esway, Sean McGrath, Steve Martyak and Neil Walker clocked a 1:17.90.
Stanford (1:17.03), Auburn (1:17.06), Arizona (1:17.18), California (1:17.45) and Florida (1:17.83) also earned their way into the championship finale.
Men's 500 free
Olympian Connor Jaeger put together an easy-speed lifetime best in the middle-distance event as his Michigan Wolverines dominated the 500-yard free this morning.
Jaeger led the way with a sterling time of 4:12.82 to jump to 15th all time in the event, knocking distance stud Klete Keller (4:12.83) out of the top 15 all time. The swim looked easy for Jaeger, and fans could see a scary time going down this evening. That was the top swim for the Wolverines in what proved to be an early statement as Michigan went one up, four down in the event.
Anders Nielsen (4:16.25), Hassaan Abdel Khalik (4:16.28), Sean Ryan (4:16.69) and Ryan Feeley (4:16.85) qualified ninth, 10th, 12th and 13th for the Wolverines.
Texas' Michael McBroom touched second in the morning with a 4:13.61, in what proved to be a calm swim aside from dropping a 24.63 final split to beat the rest of the field in his heat. Georgia's Matias Koski earned third-place honors in 4:14.44.
Wisconsin's Michael Weiss (4:14.94), Florida's Sebastien Roussaeu (4:15.31), Arizona's Matthew Barber (4:15.70), USC's Cristian Quintero (4:15.87) and Auburn's Zane Grothe (4:16.17) grabbed the rest of the transfer spots into the championship eight.
Defending champion Martin Grodzki of Georgia surprisingly finished 19th with a 4:18.34. Having to post a qualifying time for Germany at sectionals just a week ago could not have helped his taper this week.
Men's 200 IM
Some of the top teams looking to vie for the team title made an impact in the 200-yard IM. Florida's Marcin Cieslak raced to the top time with a 1:42.52, leading the Gators to a one up, two down finish. Dan Wallace touched ninth for Florida with a 1:43.69, while teammate Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez qualified 14th in 1:44.06. Florida will be looking to regain its dominance in the event, previously winning three out of five titles from 2005-09 with wins from Ryan Lochte (2005, 2006) and Bradley Ally (2009).
Texas' Austin Surhoff turned in a 1:42.63 to qualify second. He'd love to get back to the mountaintop in the event, having won his freshman year in 2010 and has been looking to become just the 12th swimmer to ever win multiple 200 IM titles.
California's Josh Prenot led a two up, one down performance for the two-time defending champs with a 1;42.95. Teammate Marcin Tarczynski, the defending champion in the event with a 1:41.97 last year, qualified seventh in 1:43.31. Ben Hinshaw also put himself in position for team points for California with an 11th-place 1:43.75.
Indiana's Cody Miller and Stanford's David Nolan posted matching times of 1:43.27 to tie for fourth. Michigan went two up with Dylan Bosch (1:43.28) and Kyle Whitaker (1:43.55) also making their way into the championship field.
Men's 50 free
USC's Vlad Morozov turned in his second special swim of the day, following his scintillating 18.22 split earlier in the 200 free relay. Morozov led the way in the splash-and-dash with an 18.91. That swim is just a bit slower than his 10th-ranked lifetime best of 18.86 from earlier this month at the Pacific 12 Conference Championships.
Morozov is vying to become USC's first 50 free champion since Joe Bottom won three straight for the Trojans from 1975-77. Dan Frawley is the only other winner for USC with a 21.04 in 1969.
Auburn's Marcelo Chierighini, the only other sub-19 swimmer this year with an 18.85 from SECs, qualified second in 19.04. Auburn ruled this event with Fred Bousquet (2003, 2004, 2005) and Cesar Cielo (2007, 2008) winning five titles in six years. But, the Tigers have not won since. Chierighini will be looking to put Auburn back on top of the collegiate sprint ranks.
Minnesota's Derek Toomey raced to third in 19.10, while Florida's Brad deBorde qualified fourth in 19.17. Michigan's Miguel Ortiz (19.31) and Auburn's James Disney-May (19.43) qualified fifth and seventh, while California went two up with Shayne Fleming (19.41) and Seth Stubblefield (19.47) taking sixth and eighth for the Golden Bears. California also will be looking for a spot in the consolation heat as Anthony Cox will be in a swimoff with Louisville's Joao De Lucca after tying for 16th with matching 19.63s.
De Lucca hurt the Golden Bears in the team-title hunt with a 19.51 to 19.79 win in the swimoff.
Men's 400 medley relay
Keyed by a monster butterfly of 44.04 from reigning NCAA Swimmer of the Year Tom Shields, California's Jacob Pebley (46.45), Trevor Hoyt (52.25), Shields (44.04) and Fabio Gimondi (42.56) posted the top time in the morning with a 3:05.30.
California will be looking to keep its win streak intact in the event, having captured the title the previous three years with the likes of Guy Barnea, Damir Dugonjic, Shields, Nathan Adrian as well as Mathias Gydesen, Nolan Koon and Tyler Messerschmidt last year. Overall, California has won the title five times in program history, also taking home wins in 1978 and 1979 with Peter Rocca, D. Graham Smith, Par Arvidsson and anchor legs of Jim Fairbank and Pelle Holmetz.
Michigan's Zack Turk nearly overcame Shields' fly leg with a strong anchor leg as the Wolverine foursome of Miguel Ortiz (46.01), Richard Funk (51.79), Sean Fletcher (45.80) and Turk (42.03) qualified second in 3:05.63. Michigan has won the event three times in its history, dating back to victories in 1957, 1959 and 1966. The Big Blue would definitely love to update the record books with a more modern victory.
Vlad Morozov continued to shine, dropping a smoking anchor leg of 40.45 as USC's Luca Spinazzola (46.97), Sergio Lujan-Rivera (52.35), Maclin Davis (46.28) and Morozov (40.45) qualified third in 3:06.05.
Auburn (3:06.55), Arizona (3:07.67), Texas (3:07.78), Florida (3:08.16) and Penn State (3:08.31) picked up the rest of the championship spots.