AUSTIN, TX., December 8. THE annual Longhorn Invitational in early December has produced some stuning results over the years, but it's hard to remember any more impressive than USC's Erik Vendt's and Texas' Aaron Persol's this weekend.
Vendt, the USC Trojan senior who has the "dubious" distinction of having finished second in the fastest 400 meter IM race in history — going under the old world record too — splashed to the fastest non-championship 400 ever here Friday evening, a nation-leading 3:41.49.
His swim comes in at No. 8 on the all-time performances' list and of those eight times Vendt has three — one more than American/NCAA record-holder Tom Dolan and one more than Florida's Greg Burgess, each of whom has a pair.
Vendt's pr that won him NCAAs in Athens last March is 3:40.65, .01 slower than Burgess' pr of 3:40.64, which is No. 2 performer-performance. Then Vendt has No. 5 (3:40.98 that got him second at the 2001 NCAAs behind Mihcigan's Tim Siciliano's 3:40.77) and his swim from four days ago.
But again, all the above swims were done at NCAAs. Vendt goes 3:41.4 in the middle of winter and rest well asurred Trojan coach Mark Schubert didn't cut back much on the yardage for this meet.
To top that, Vendt swam a 14:42.97 mile here, 23rd-fastest performance ever.
OK, you say, 23rd-fastest, that's nice but no big deal, right?
Every performance ahead of last night's was done at NCAAs and, with the exception of three of those (including Harvard's John Coles' runner-up finish last season), resulted in a national collegiate title.
Not Dolan, not current AR-/NCAA record-holder Chris Thompson, not the great Brian Goodell — nobody has ever swum as fast as Vendt has in a non-championship competition. The only non-NCAA time among the Top 25 was LA Olympic 1500m gold medalist Mike O'Brien's 14:41.57 from the U.S. Nationals at Monterey Park in 1985 — a week after he had won NCAAs in a pr 14:41.43.
And who was O'Brien's coach when he won that gold in LA? Try Mark Schubert.
Interestingly, O'Brien's mark from the U.S. Nationals will forever remain the championship record unless United States Swimming changes the spring nationals to a yards meet — and Schubert will be wearing blue and gold before that happens (hmmmm, aren't those the Nadadores' colors?)
On the premise that the day's work is never done, Vendt hardly got to take a deep breath after his mile swim before he was back in the water racing Texas' Brendan Hansen in the 200 breast.
No, Vendt didn't beat last year's World Champion and the double-defending NCAA 100-200 titlest. But he came close, going a pr 1:56.87 to the former's nation-leading 1:55.74. Vendt ranks No. 2 here and how many 200 breaststrokers are world-class milers too?
Only one that we can think of.
Hansen's time, icidentally, is No. 2 on the all-time invitational and/or dual meet list behind Stanford's Kurt Grote's 1:55.54 from the Speedo/U Cal Irvine Invitational at Belmont Plaza in December of 1993.
Former Virginia All-America Ed Moses went a 1:53.38 during a dual meet with Tennessee earlier this year but he was competing unattached, having left Charlottesville following the '99-'00 season to turn pro. Moses' time places him thnird all-time, performer-performance.
Not many milers these days are also world-class IMers, as is Vendt, and even rarer is a swimmer who's a world-class miler/400 IMer and a top-flight 200 breaststroker as well.
Vendt has a history of swimming fast in-season. Last winter he raced to his career-pr in the 1000 free — 8:49.59 — in a dual-meet against Stanford in Los Angeles. That swim ranks him ninth all-time (performances), eighth performer and is the fastest-ever in a dual-meet.
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Several other performers turned in world-class swims here including World 200 back champ Aaron Peirsol, who went a meet and Texas record 1:41.34 in his specialty — No. 1 nationally.
The time is also a 17-18 national age-group record. The old record was a 1:42.41 by 1996 Olympic champ Brad Bridgewater from the '92 NCAAs in Indianapolis.
Peirsol, after his first major college meet, now ranks 10th on the all-time 200 back performances' list and the seventh performer. Prior to debuting at Texas, there was speculation as to whether he could be a great short course 200 swimmer as he supposedly didn't have sufficient "speed" or "strength" and his "walls" weren't that hot.
The only question now is whether he'll get the American/NCAA record of 1:40.06 by Stanford's Brian Retterer from the '95 NCAAs at Indy at the Big 12s in a couple of months or wait until NCAAs and then cut loose with a nice sub 1:40!
Cal's Alex Lim, who on opening night blasted to a nation-leading and pr 46.83 in the 100 fly, chased Peirsol in the 200 back and went a fast 1:43.30 — not far off his pr of 1:42.85 from last season.
A Malaysian Olympian, the Cal junior still holds the national high school record in the 100 back from his days at The Bolles School a few years ago.
Another Pac-10 swimmer who made an indelible impact was Arizona junior butterflyer Juan Veloz, a Mexican Olympian and World Championship semifinalist last year.
Fresh off his pr/NR 200 meter fly win at the Central American and Caribbean Games in mega-smoggy San Salvador just before Thanksgiving, Veloz won the 200 yard fly here in a Wildcat record 1:42.72.
His time ranks 'Cat coach Frank Busch's protege No. 1 nationally His old pr was a 1:43.93 from NCAAs at Athens last mach and Veloz now ranks fifth all-time on both the performers' and performnces' lists.
Alabama's Romanian flyer Ioan Gherghel won NCAAs last season as a freshman with his pr and Crimson Tide record 1:42.68, so Veloz is certainly on course to be competitive at the DI Championship here next March.
The Wildcat star is also just .12 off former Stanford great Pablo Morales' Pac-10 record 1:42.60 that, when he swam it here 15 years ago during NCAAs, was the American/NCAA record.– and is still No. 3 all-time (performer-performance).
Busch's most recent NCAA champ was sprinter Roland Schoeman, who defeated Cal's Anthony Ervin in the 50 at Athens, 19.08-19.10. Veloz doesn't have quite that kind of speed but perhaps a 1:40 in the 200 fly in about 14 weeks?
Stranger things have happened — like, oh, say, Cal's Natalie Coughlin breaking the 200 free and 200 fly American/NCAA records overthe weekend in Auburn.
And speaking of the Divine Ms. C,, while it is true she broke Mary T. Meagher's American 200 fly record with her 1:51.93 (T. had the old mark at 1:52.99 from 21 years ago), Coughlin also broke Stanford's Shelly Ripple's NCAA record of 1:53.23.
Ripple's swim, done last March here during NCAAs, gave her her first and only NCAA individual title in her final collegiate meet.
She had a brilliant career on The Farm and, undoubtedly, Cardinal coach Richard Quick only wishes he could get her an extra year of eligibility this season.