FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 27. AUBURN started the NCAA Division I Men's Championships off in a strong way as the Tigers defending their 200 freestyle relay title. Auburn's Cesar Cielo also destroyed his U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 50 free.
Auburn's squad of Cielo, Alexei Puninski, Luke Weniger and Scott Goodrich hit the wall in 1:18.47 to win the event for the third time in as many years. Auburn previously won the event from 2006-07. The win also gives Auburn seven 200 free relay titles in the program's history, the second most ever behind only Stanford's eight wins.
In the 50 free leadoff, Cesar Cielo blasted the 50 free U.S. Open and NCAA record with a blistering time of 18.47, destroying his previous standard of 19.60 set last year. Cielo was out in 8.88! That is the eighth time Cielo has been under 19.
"We knew that with Cesar Cielo leading off, we knew he was going to come out blazing with all guns firing," Goodrich said. "When I looked up and saw 18.4 (Cielo's split), I knew this relay was going to be unstoppable. We knew that all we had do to was finish our legs of the race and we knew we had it won. We had Alexei (Puninski) on the second leg and we knew he would do well. (Luke) Weniger jumped in and had a great third leg. All I had to do is finish off what Cesar started. It was a great relay. It got the team fired-up. When you have a lead (after the first race in the meet), it kind of relaxes you and doesn't put as much pressure on (the team). You can go out and race instead of worrying about the team. It was a great way to start off."
Arizona's quartet of Albert Subirats, Jordan Smith, Nicolas Nilo and Ryan Richardson placed second in 1:16.55, while California's team of William Copeland, Jernej Godec, Joe Whittington and Graeme Moore finished third in 1:16.94.
Subirats also posted a strong 50 free leadoff with a 19.18, just .1 off his best time of 19.08 set at last year's NCAAs.