MONMOUTH, NJ, February 25. SOUTHERN Connecticut State University senior Ben Michaelson didn't just have a Spitzian-like performance at last weekend's Meropolitan Conference Championships here at Rutgers.
All things considered, he did better!
Micxhaelson, defending NCAA Division II champ in the 100 free/100-200 flys and divisional record-holder in the fly races, won the 50-100 frees and 100 fly at the Metro meet in times that not only qualify him for the Division 1 Championships next month at Texas…they also rank him No. 1 nationally in two of the three.
In the 50 free, he clocked a pr, meet, conference and DII record 19.40, which also happens to be faster than the No. 1 time in Division 1 (19.41 by Tennessee's Renato Gueraldi from last weekend's Southeastern Conference Championships at Auburn).
In the 100 free he splashed to a pr, conference and DII-record 43.34, which would be fifth-quickest in Division 1 and is an auto "A" cut.
But in the 100 fly he outdid himself. He won last season's DII Championships in Orlando with a then pr and DII-standard 46.74, No. 22 on the all-time performers' list and the highest ranking for any DII swimmer in any event.
At Rutgers, he proved conclusively (as if any proof were needed) that he can compete with the big boys. He won in an eye-popping 45.87 — fifth-fastest performance in history and third on the all-time performers' list!
The only swimemrs ahead of him are American/NCAA record-holder Ian Crocker of Texas (45.44) and Olympic gold-medalist Lars Frolander. Frolander, a Swedish native, swam at SMU in the late 1990s and held the old U.S. Open/NCAA-record of 45.59 before Crocker broke it at NCAAs last season in Athens.
(Frolander has a 45.65p for third-best performance and Crocker did a 45.70 in the prelims last year for history's fourth-best performance.)
The national DI leader in the 100 fly is Auburn freshman Fred Bousquet, who swam a Southeastern Confernece-record of 46.70, also from last weekend's championships.
Michaelson's pr in the 200 fly, which he did not swim this past weekend, is 1:45.25. He also led off SCSU's 400 medley relay in 48.65, by far the fastest 100 backstroke split of the meet, and did a 21.54 leading off the 200 medley relay. When Texas' Neil Walker set the American/NCAA record in the 100 back leading off the Longhorns' medley relay six years ago, he split 21.45.
For good measure, Michaelson led off his school's 800 free relay in 1:38.76 — not a bad weekend's work that.
As for why he went so fast when all he was trying to do was ostensibly qualify for the NCAA DII Championships, the reason would appear to be obvious. The only way Michaelson can get to swim at the Division 1 Championships the final weekend of next month in Austin is to attain the auto qualifying times prior to the deadline, which is two weeks from last weekend (March 9).
Were he to have swum these tims at the DII Championships it would have been too late. By making the cuts last weekend, he's home free, presuming he wants to compete at "The Big Dance." And in this, his senior year, it would seem that that is certainly the objective.
If he does, indeed, show up at Austin and doesn't get "stage fright" (and having finaled at last summer's U.S. Nationals, there's no reason to believe he will), Messrs. Gueraldi, Jayme, Ervin, Cavic, Bousquet and Draganja — among others — may well be in for a big surprise.