By John Lohn
PHOENIX, April 8. WHEN it came time for Sports Illustrated on Campus to select its Collegiate Swimmers of the Year, there shouldn’t have been much debate: Auburn's Kirsty Coventry and Florida's Ryan Lochte were easy choices.
Coventry and Lochte are featured in the April 7 edition of S.I. On Campus, which is distributed with school newspapers on more than 70 campuses throughout the nation.
A senior at Auburn, Coventry dominated the NCAA Women’s Championships, as she cruised to victories in the 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley and the 200 backstroke. Her time in the 200 back (1:50.54) was the second-fastest in NCAA history.
In addition to winning three events at the NCAA Champs, Coventry helped Auburn finish second in the team standings to Georgia. A few weeks earlier, she rolled to Southeastern Conference crowns in the I.M. events and the 200 back.
Last summer, Coventry unfurled a sensational effort at the Athens Olympics. Aside from capturing a gold medal in the 200 backstroke, Coventry earned a silver medal in the 100 back and took bronze in the 200 I.M.
Lochte was equally impressive at the NCAA Men’s Championships, where he captured championships in the 200 individual medley and the 200 backstroke. For good measure, the University of Florida junior finished second in the 100 back.
During the NCAA Championships, Lochte established an American record in the 200 I.M. (1:41.71) and nearly broke his own American standard in the 200 back, which he set at the SEC Championships. At the SEC Champs, Lochte won both I.M. disciplines and the 200 back.
A two-time Olympic medalist in Athens, Lochte spent last week qualifying for this summer’s World Championships in Montreal. In Canada, Lochte is scheduled to swim the 200 I.M., 400 I.M., 200 backstroke and 800 free relay.