By Richie Krzyzanowski
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 7. DAY two of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships started off on the right foot as the Drury men turned in an NCAA record. Drury looked to extend its lead on the men's side, while the women's side of the racing did not have a single team take clear control.
Women's 200 free relay
Ashland's Julie Widmann, Rachael Ausdenmoore, Gabriela Verdugaluz and Kaylyn Murphy posted the top time of this morning's session with a 1:32.88. Grand Canyon's Catherine Polito, Rebecca Coan, Stacey Rudman and Mychala Lynch followed with a 1:33.29, while Incarnate Word (1:33.56) and UC San Diego (1:33.76) placed third and fourth as less than a second separates the top four squads heading into the finale. Drury's relay, which typically is much stronger, made the finale in eighth with a 1:34.41. The question remains whether Drury will have the services of Wai Ting “Janet” Yu, their monster anchor leg, during finals after the posted an ACL-less gutsy performance in the 50 free last night.
Men's 200 free relay
Drury's men were much stronger than the field in the morning at Nicholas McCarthy (20.28), Samuel Olson (19.85), Olexandr Padalkin (19.72) and Vladimir Sidorkin (19.35) topped the NCAA D 2 record with a 1:19.20 in prelims. That swim clipped the previous record of 1:19.25 set by Limestone in 2009.
Grand Canyon's Kyle Shores, Tanner Brotherton, Taylor Turner and Michael Branning finished second in 1:20.21 with Branning delivering a 19.28 anchor leg. Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez, Oscar Pereiro, Vladislav Paskas and Krzyszstof Wilk placed third in 1:20.37.
We may witness some line-up changes as the top three teams jockey for prime position this evening.
Women's 400 IM
UC San Diego junior Bethany Dong sits on top of qualifying after posting the only sub-4:20 of the morning with a 4:19.80. Queens' Caroline Arakelian (4:20.85), 200 IM winner Amanda Thomas of Southern Connecticut (4:21.17) and Nova Southeastern's Lauren Chappel (4:22.41) make up the rest of the top four. All of these swimmers came into NCAA with sub-4:20 seed times, and the swimmer with the best freestyle might just win the finale tonight as each swimmer seems balanced throughout the rest of the legs.
Men's 400 IM
Wingate junior Marko Blazevski has the top time heading into finals with a 3:52.37, while he is closely followed by NCAA D2 record-breaker Piotr Jachowicz with a 3:52.77. Jachowicz earned top billing last night with an NCAA D2 record in the 200-yard IM, and is looking for an IM sweep tonight. The top two swimmers will definitely push the NCAA D2 record of 3:49.17 set by Drury's Kyrillo Fesenko in 2009.
Several other swimmers could factor into the finale as Saint Leo's Pawel Trenda (3:52.93, 3rd), Grand Canyon's Brian Morrison (3:54.86, 4th), and Drury's Daniel Swietlicki (3:54.93, 5th) all could make some noise tonight. Two-time defending champ Blazevski, though, looks likely to win his third title.
Women's 100 fly
LIU Post's Joyce Kwok buzzed the tower on Li Tao's NCAA D2 record of 53.55 for Drury in 2011 as Kwok led the morning with a 53.69. Kwok has some unbelievable underwaters off every wall, but could see competition tonight from Mychala Lynch of Grand Canyon. The senior is looking to repeat as national champ in the event after a 54.70 in prelims, but has a rookie in Kwok in line to unseat her. UC San Diego had a strong morning in terms of team points with Naomi Thomas (55.08), Olivia Fountain (55.54) and Jaclyn Amog (55.80) all earning spots in the championship heath.
Men's 100 fly
Ouachita Baptist senior Marcus Schlesinger posted the top time with a 47.77, but the time proved to be a bit labored.
“The last 7-10 yards, I could not breathe because I swallowed water off the breakout,” Schlesinger told Swimming World.
Should Schlesinger put together a clean race in finals, he could be looking at his first NCAA title.
Drury's Stanlislav Kuzmin qualified second in 47.96, while Grand Valley State's Michael Griffith earned third in 48.05. The finale could also feature some outside smoke with the likes of Ivan Nechunaev of Grand Canyon (48.43) and UC San Diego's Dane Stassi (48.45) qualifying for the championship heat as well.
Women's 200 free
UC San Diego's Anjali Shakya turned in the top time of the morning with a 1:48.37. She took second last year in this event behind Wayne State's Ana Azambuja, who shockingly finished 21st in prelims with a 1:52.73. Drury's Tiffany Bell qualified second in 1:49.24, just ahead of Queens' Lillian Gordy (1:49.29).
Wingate's Kathryn Pheil (1:49.78) and Nova Southeastern's Erin Black (1:49.99) could also make an impact in the wide-open finale after qualifying fourth and fifth. The loss of Azambuja from the finale is still the marquee occurrence from this morning.
Men's 200 free
Drury senior Vladimir Sidorkin raced to the top time with a 1:36.53, and could challenge the NCAA D2 record of 1:35.05 set by Wayne State's Andrey Seryy in 2012. Sidorkin led his prelim heat start-to-finish, and pretty much put in an open-water swim. That will change this evening as the rest of the finale is stocked.
Florida Southern went two up with Luis Rojas (1:37.96) and Jeffrey Halfacre (1:38.18) taking second and third, while Wayne State's Kristian Larsen (1:38.25) and 1000-yard free winner Mark Rubin (1:38.35) qualified fourth and fifth. Rubin is one to look out for, as he has the endurance to hold on against some of the top swimmers in a much speedier event.
Women's 400 medley relay
LIU Post's Johanna Pettersson (55.88), Tamara Garriock (1:03.58), Joyce Kwok (53.34) and Meghan Brazier (50.35) turned in the top time by far this morning with a 3:43.15. The team heads into the finale with a three-second lead ahead of Wingate's Rita Koryukova, Charlotte Cornet, Valerie Dembny and Kathryn Pheil, who posted a 3:46.24. Simon Fraser (3:46.50) and Drury (3:46.51) will also help push the pace after qualifying third and fourth.
Men's 400 medley relay
Grand Canyon's Everton Kida (49.00), Eetu Karvonen (52.47), Ivan Nechunaev (47.87) and Kyle Shores (43.70) clocked the fastest time of the morning with a 3:13.04, while Drury's Taylor Westby, Kacper Pelczynski, Stanislav Kuzmin and Nicholas McCarthy qualified second in 3:13.86. Florida Southern's Luis Rojas, Miguel Ferreira, David Janzen and Zach Edwards earned third in 3:14.42.
GCU will be looking for some revenge in the longer distance medley relay after being touched out in the 200 medley relay by Florida Southern last night. Drury, however, might also play a spoiler between these two rivals. Florida Southern's NCAA D2 record of 3:12.43 from last year is definitely on the chopping block this evening.
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