Commentary by Jeff Commings
PHOENIX, Arizona, April 5. AS I did yesterday with the women, I present my picks for swimming's Final Four, which highlights the top four male swimmers at the Division I level this NCAA season.
Number four: Zach Turk. Talk about an NCAA debut. Turk was a standout in the Division III ranks, helping Kenyon to multiple individual and relay titles. In 2012, Turk posted one of the fastest 50 freestyle relay splits of the year, swimming an 18.91 on his team's 200 medley relay. It's one thing to do that in a smaller — albeit intense — meet, but how would he perform at the faster championships? Quite admirably. Turk was the Wolverines' go-to sprinter as part of the fastest 200 medley relay in history, and his 18.45 was one of the fastest relay splits of 2013. Turk is now one of the first, if not the first, swimmers to hold NCAA records in two different divisions, and likely the first to hold a team championship trophy in Division I and Division III.
Video interview with Zach Turk:
Number three: Connor Jaeger. Michigan gets two swimmers in the Final Four, with distance star Connor Jaeger stepping up and making the most of his breakout year. Not only was he able to hold back on the gas in the first 100 yards of the 500 freestyle, but he was able to win what he would consider a sprint event over athletes who specialize in the 500. Then, on Saturday, he and Michael McBroom dueled in the mile for about 1000 yards before Jaeger said “I've had enough. It's time for me to do the rest of this alone.” Jaeger wasn't really alone. He had the support of his teammates and Michigan alumni pulling him along as he fought for a place in the elusive sub-14:30 club. His win not only helped secure Michigan's team title, but put him squarely in the driver's seat for this summer's long course season.
Video interview with Connor Jaeger:
Number two: Vlad Morozov. Have you gotten over that 17.86? Neither have I. It might sound extremely clich?, but Morozov made men look like boys in the 200 free relay final, when he went from sixth to second in less than 18 seconds. The Russian junior from the University of Southern California looked like a water bug skimming along the surface of the water — if that water bug had a motorboat engine attached to it. And how's this for impressive: Splitting 19.10 in the 100 freestyle final on the way to a US Open record of 40.76. It was the only way Morozov was going to beat Cielo's record of 40.92, since Cielo had the advantage of wearing a (non-rubber) bodysuit and would experience less muscle fatigue. After his targets of the world records in the long course sprints are vanquished this summer, it's likely that 18.46 in the 50-yard free is the only way Morozov will call his senior year in 2013 a success.
Video interview with Vlad Morozov:
Number one: Kevin Cordes. 1:48.68 in the 200-yard breaststroke. Nothing more needs to be said. Thank you and good night.