PHOENIX, Arizona, March 1. THE first national collegiate swimming and diving championships began yesterday afternoon in Oklahoma City. The NAIA meet only featured diving yesterday, which was won by Concordia University in the women's one-meter and men's three-meter. Christine Runkle won the one-meter event for the third straight year by just four points, and Christopher Salgado took the three-meter by a comfortable 51-point margin over Illinois Tech's Ian McNair. Today starts the first day of swimming, with the men's one-meter event also being held. The California Baptist women and Fresno Pacific's men's teams are looking to repeat as team champions.
The official psych sheets for the women's Division I, as well as the men's and women's Division II championships, have been posted. In the Division I ranks, Georgia has the most swimmers with 16, followed by Cal with 14. The Division II meet will be a crowded affair, with 340 men and women to compete next week. You can see the psych sheets for both meets by going to ncaa.com.
The Pac 12 men's meet featured relay wins by UC-Berkeley and Stanford last night. California won the men's 200 medley relay over Stanford, but the big highlight of that event was the 18.43 freestyle split by Southern Cal's Vlad Morozov, the fastest in the field. Stanford won the 800 free relay just barely over Southern Cal. USC's leadoff by Dimitri Colupaev and California's Tom Shields' leadoff leg were both under 1:34, making that five swimmers now who have swum 1:33 in the 200 free so far this season, but with Shields likely to do the 100 fly/100 back double again at NCAAs we can count him out of the 200 free national title contenders. After the two relays, Stanford has a two-point lead over California.
The Irish are holding their Olympic Trials today in Dublin, though getting on the Olympic team won't be as easy as getting first or second in finals, as is pretty much the case in the United States. The top two finishers have to be faster than the FINA A qualifying time to be put on the Olympic roster. Two swimmers were pre-selected to be on the Olympic roster, based on swims from previous meets. Grainne Murphy swam under the FINA A cut in the 800 free at the Dutch long course nationals last December, and Barry Murphy swam under the cut in the 100 breast last spring at the Indianapolis Grand Prix. No one made the Olympic standard in yesterday's events in Ireland, but we'll keep you posted throughout the week.
South Africa's Olympic Trials doesn't start until mid-April, but the tiny country got some big Olympic-related news yesterday when Princess Charlene Wittstock of Monaco, who represented South Africa at the 2000 Olympics, has offered her country's services to the South African swimming team from June 1 to the start of the Olympics. That means the team will have free accommodations, food and pool use for about three weeks. The only thing they have to pay for is the flight from South Africa to Monaco. South Africa had been in a little bit of a financial crunch after losing major sponsorships, though Swimming South Africa officials say the princess' support was not related to the loss of sponsors, since the offer was made a few months before the sponsors ended their relationships.
The UCLA Bruins have taken over the top spot in the women's collegiate water polo coaches rankings, after beating Stanford last weekend at the Irvine Invitational. The Bruins won the final 5-4 to give Stanford its first loss after spending the season at the top of the national rankings. Stanford could work its way back to the top of the list this weekend with matches against Long Beach State and UC Irvine.