By Richie Krzyzanowski
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama, March 6. THE 2013 NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships have finally begun in Birmingham, Ala. The events on the day were the Men's and Women's: 1000 freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, 50 Freestyle, and the 200 Medley Relay.
Teams arrived nice and early for a strong first session of the meet and it looked across the board that all teams were on FIRE from the first beep. So, let's get started with some highlights of the morning session.
Women's 1000 Free:
With the 1000 free being a timed final event, the top eight seeded swimmers will swim tonight but the others posted some fast times that can very well hold up and place on top of the podium.
Heather Glenday, Junior, Tampa University, dropped 13 seconds and posted the fastest time in the morning of 10:00.00. That time is already four seconds faster than the top time qualified for the meet by Erin Black, Senior, Nova Southeastern University.
Black has the ability to top that time tonight and we will see what she does. Another great swim in the morning came from Paige Schmidt, Senior, Wingate University, who dropped nine seconds from her qualified time and also posted a time of 10:03.24 which is faster than Black's qualified time. Black will have a lot to say to her competitors tonight and let's see how far she can go under 10:00.00 to top Heather.
Men's 1000 Free:
The men's 1000 free is also a timed final event, with the fastest swimmers competing tonight. However, some of the morning times might just hold up for podium spots tonight.
Ryan Arabejo, Senior, Drury University had the fastest time of the morning of 9:11.82, followed by Marko Blazevski, Junior, Wingate University with a 9:13.80. Both had some big drops that put them into contention of finishing top eight. Tonight's race will produce a battle between the two favorites of Mark Rubin, Senior, University of the Incarnate Word and Oskar Nordstrand, Senior, Nova Southeastern University.
Women's 200 Individual Medley:
Sitting in the top spot qualified for finals tonight with a time of 2:02.16 is Caroline Arakelian, Freshman, Queens University of North Carolina. She led start-to-finish as she controlled the prelim field. Tonight, could be a different story as three-time defending champ Amanda Thomas looked to have cruised through prelims with a fourth-ranked 2:03.65.
The biggest surprise this morning cam from Ekaterina Alyabyeva, Senior, Drury University who was qualified 31st in the event and dropped from her season best 3.46 seconds to a fifth-ranked 2:04.21.
Men's 200 Individual Medley:
Evandro Silva, Sophomore, University of the Incarnate Word qualified with the top seed in 1:47.08. Silva initially had a challenge in his heat, but separated during the breaststroke leg before posting a clear water victory in prelims.
Piotr Jachowicz, Sophomore, Wayne State qualified second into finals, and looked a tad sluggish this morning on his final leg after a fantastic breaststroke split of 29.68. The finale could be a close one as the field from 1st-6th place is separated by a mere .6 tenths of a second.
Women's 50 Free:
The women's 50 free went to form as Tamiris Nascimento of Incarnate Word led the way with a 22.99. She swam a nearly flawless race, and will control her own destiny tonight. My dark horse for the race, Ashland's Julie Widmann, qualified second in 23.14 and could challenge the favored Nascimento.
The biggest surprise in this event from the morning proved to be Drury's top sprinter Wai Ting “Janet” Yu. Yu tore her ACL two weeks ago, and is swimming with the injury. That wound up being a great decision as Yu turned in a gutsy 23.49 to rank fifth out of prelims.
Men's 50 Free
Grand Canyon's Michael Branning separated himself from the field this morning with a strong 19.84 in the splash-and-dash. Branning could be vying for the NCAA D2 record of 19.39 set by Wayne State's Andrey Seryy. Two other men cleared 20 seconds with Queens' Michael Trice (19.90) and Bridgeport's Ruben Gimenez (19.91) qualifying second and third heading into the evening.
Women's 200 Medley Relay
Wayne State's Sarah Maraskine, Kayla Scott, Alexandria Malfroid, and Ashley Corriveau earned the top seed. The squad led the entire race, and seemed to cruise on every leg heading into the finale. The battle for the top eight, however, proved to be exciting. St. Cloud State bumped Grand Canyon out of the championship heat by .01 seconds, while UC San Diego's eighth-seeded relay dropped to 12th. Ashland and Incarnate Word also had strong swims, and could make noise tonight. Nascimento had the top freestyle split of the day with a 22.49.
Men's 200 Medley Relay
Grand Canyon sits in the top spot after prelims with a 1:28.23, followed closely by Florida Southern's second-seeded time of 1:28.28. The two teams will be fighting for redemption as the two squads had the top times in the event last year out of the consolation final.
Grand Canyon served up a relay team of Everton Kida, Eetu Karvonen, Taylor Turner and Michael Branning, while Florida Southern had Jeffrey Halfacre, Miguel Ferreira, Allan Gutierrez, and Zachary Edwards. Both teams can push the NCAA D2 record of 1:27.25 set by OBU.
Looks like tonight's final session is shaping up nicely for some exciting races and I expect it to get loud! If you want constant coverage follow us on twitter @SwimmingWorld for updates. Best of luck to those who are swimming in finals tonight!