FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 27. THE first day of what should be an enjoyable weekend of fast swimming began at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.
200 free relay
Arizona will be looking to dethrone two-time defending champ Auburn in the relay event as the Wildcat squad of Albert Subirats, Nicolas Nilo, Jordan Smith and Darian Townsend ripped off a 1:17.05 in for the top seed in prelims.
California's foursome of Williams Copeland, Jernej Godec, Joe Whittington and Graeme Moore touched second in 1:17.11, while Auburn's quartet of Cesar Cielo, Scott Goodrich, Steve Scheren and Luke Weniger grabbed the third seed in 1:17.14.
Cielo, who is making 18 routine, posted the eighth-fastest 50 free of all time with an 18.97 leadoff. Cielo now has six swims under 19 in his short course yard career.
Other championship heat qualifiers came from Stanford (1:17.64), Tennessee (1:17.71), Texas (1:18.07), Minnesota (1:18.25) and Indiana (1:18.45).
The event is guaranteed to have a new champion after the likes of Larsen Jensen, Peter Vanderkaay and Erik Vendt have won dating back to Klete Keller's back-to-back in 2001-02.
Georgia's Sebastien Rouault topped qualifying with a time of 4:13.67, while Michigan's Matt Patton (4:14.50) and Texas' Michael Klueh (4:14.64) touched second and third.
Other top eight finishes came from Texas' Dave Walters (4:14.93), Arizona's Jean Basson (4:15.00), Georgia's Troy Prinsloo (4:15.07), Stanford's Danny Beal (4:15.11) and Virginia's Matt McLean (4:16.27).
Texas did the most damage in the event with two up and one down, while Georgia went two up with Michigan and Stanford both one up and one down.
Arizona's Darian Townsend will be looking to keep the title in the hands of the Wildcats as teammate Adam Ritter won with a 1:41.72 last year.
Townsend qualified first with a time of 1:43.40, while Texas' Ricky Berens finished second in 1:44.10.
Townsend's time of 1:43.40 is the 14th-fastest of all time behind Ryan Lochte's 1:43.32. The performance jumped Townsend up to seventh all time in the event.
Arizona's Jack Brown (1:44.68), Indiana's Todd Patrick (1:44.74), Michigan's Alex Vanderkaay (1:44.78) Stanford's Nate Cass (1:44.84), Harvard's Geoff Rathgeber (1:45.00) and Michigan's Andre Schultz (1:45.00) completed the top eight.
Michigan and Arizona both qualified two up, while California and Florida earned three consol spots apiece.
Auburn's Cesar Cielo, the fastest man on the planet over short course yards, went off again with an 18.79 in the 50 free – his seventh time under 19. The performance is the third fastest in the history of the event. Cielo will be looking to be the first back-to-back winner of the event since Fred Bousquet captured the crown three straight years from 2003-05 for Auburn.
Yale's Alex Righi qualified second with a swift time of 19.11 to tie him with Jason Lezak and Ian Crocker as the 12th-fastest swimmers in the event of all time.
California's William Copeland (19.36), Auburn's Alexei Puninski (19.39), California's Jernej Godec (19.46), Texas A&M's Ozzie Gardner (19.49), Florida State's Scott Baker (19.49) and Arizona's Albert Subirats (19.49) will make up the championship heat.
California made a big push in the event with two up and one down.
Virginia Tech's Kaan Tayla and Cincinnati's Josh Schneider tied for 16th with matching times of 19.61. Why are we writing about 16th place here…because the pool erupted during the swimoff as the duo tied again with matching 19.73s. Schneider wound up winning the second swimoff, 19.70 to 19.85.
400 medley relay
California's team of David Russell, Damir Dugonjic, Jernej Godec and William Copeland dropped a time of 3:07.67 to earn the top seed in the event.
Michigan's team of Alon Mandel, Scott Spann, Chris Brady and Bobby Savulich touched second in 3:08.28, while Arizona's Cory Chitwood, Ivan Barnes, Albert Subirats and Joel Greenshields took third in 3:08.45.
Other top eight finishes came from Minnesota (3:08.52), Texas (3:08.62), Stanford (3:08.77), Florida (3:09.06) and Tennessee (3:09.14).