Joe Patching’s Blazing 200 Back Part of Electrifying Alabama-Auburn Dual Meet

Photo Courtesy: Auburn Athletics

Alabama and Auburn, both major rivals in the Southeastern Conference, matched up early in the season this year with a very intense dual meet for the men’s and women’s teams in Tuscaloosa. Auburn won both meets, taking the women’s victory with a decisive 192-108. The men’s meet was a little closer, as Auburn managed a 158-142 win.

Several of the races were decided by less than half a second, with Auburn claiming 11 events on the women’s side and nine in the men’s meet. Several swims from both teams will carry through the remainder of the fall as some of the fastest in the nation.

One such swim came from Auburn junior Joe Patching in the 200 backstroke. Patching ruled the event today with a 1:43.66, winning by 2.5 seconds and posting the fastest time in the nation by two seconds. Patching has a history of swimming fast in-season, and now looks to carry that into the NCAA championships and a spot in the championship final. Placing a distant second was Alabama’s Connor Oslin with a 1:46.17.

Patching was on fire in the meet, winning two more events. He was in a three-way battle in the 200 free, using a 24.49 split in his final 50 yards to win in 1:37.06. The time is the fastest done by a Division I swimmer so far this season, but is second to the 1:36.58 swum by Division II swimmer Dion Dreesens of Queens University of Charlotte. Patching’s teammate Arthur Mendes was second with a 1:38.20, while Alabama’s Alex Gray was third in 1:38.74 after turning even with Patching at 150 yards.

Patching closed out the day with a 3:50.26 in the 400 IM, beating out the 3:55.11 by Alabama’s Anton McKee with a very strong opening 200 yards that McKee’s 1:02.76 on breaststroke couldn’t match.

The Alabama men’s 200 medley relay won by three seconds with a 1:24.84, a blazing fast time that beats the fastest of the season by almost three seconds and gives the school automatic selection for the event at the NCAA championships. Alabama was second in the 2015 NCAA championships in the 200 medley relay, and three of the four from that NCAA squad (backstroker Connor Oslin, butterflyer Brett Walsh and freestyler Kristian Gkolomeev) raced today. McKee was replaced on breaststroke by Pavel Romanov.

One of the more exciting battles on the men’s side came in the 200 breast, as McKee and Michael Duderstadt were never more than three tenths apart at each turn. McKee barely got the win with a 1:57.52 to Duderstadt’s 1:57.75. Both swims are well ahead of the nation in the event, with Duke’s Peter Kropp as the only other swimmer under 2:00 so far this year with a 1:59.01.

McKee’s 200 breast win was a bit of revenge, as Duderstadt won the 100 breast earlier in the meet with 53.51 to McKee’s 54.62.

Reigning 100 free champion Kristian Gkolomeev, in his first meet of the season, took the 50 free in 19.87, just seven hundredths slower than Caeleb Dressel swam last month for the fastest time in the nation.

Gkolomeev led the field at 50 yards in the 100 freestyle, but Auburn’s Kyle Darmody got the win with a 44.56 to Gkolomeev’s 44.81. Two other men broke 45 seconds in the race, as Auburn’s Jacob Molacek (44.83) and Peter Holoda (44.84) placed third and fourth.

Three freshmen won events today. Auburn freshman Bailey Nero won the women’s 200 fly with a strong 1:58.49, and made a late charge in a bid to win the 100 fly later in the meet. But fellow freshman teammate Aly Tetzloff won with a 54.01 to Nero’s 54.87. Alabama’s Christian Arsenau took the men’s 500 free in 4:28.57, holding Alabama’s Grant Schenk and his 4:30.62 at bay.

Auburn’s Erin Falconer tried to make it four victories for freshmen at the meet, but her 4:52.99 in the 500 free wasn’t enough to beat the 4:51.82 by teammate Zoe Thatcher.

Jillian Vitarius and Allyx Purcell helped Auburn’s cause by each winning two individual events. Vitarius swept the backstrokes with a 54.76 in the 100 and 1:58.07 in the 200. She held off a strong charge from teammate Caroline Baddock in the 200 back, as Baddock just missed the win with a 1:58.46.

Purcell won both sprint freestyle events, both of them over teammate Ashton Ellzey. In the 50 free, Purcell won with a 22.59 to Ellzey’s 22.81. Purcell pulled away on the second half of the 100 free, allowing her to win with a 49.97 to Ellzey’s 50.43.

Ashley Neidigh won the 1650 freestyle by 22 seconds in 16:48.56, while newly-minted USA Swimming national team member Annie Lazor won the 200 breast with a 2:13.21.

Lazor fell short of a breaststroke sweep when Alabama’s Bridget Blood out-touched Lazor in the 100 breast with a 1:01.33 to Lazor’s 1:01.83. Emma Saunders also had a close win for Alabama, taking the 200 free in 1:48.61 to Falconer’s 1:48.78.

Alabama’s Mia Nonnenberg won the final individual event of the day, claiming the 400 IM with a 4:11.87.

Auburn went 1-2-3 in the men’s 1650 free, one of the main reasons the Tigers were able to win the meet. Grant Schenk took the win in 15:39.13, while teammates Alec Morris (15:42.72) and Russell Noletto (15:50.26) rounded out the top three.

Mendes and Arthur Morris won both butterfly events for Auburn. Mendes won the 100 fly with a 47.84 over the 47.94 by teammate Luis Martinez, while Morris had a very convincing victory in the 200 fly with a 1:47.25.

Alabama’s Luke Kaliszak and Connor Oslin gave Alabama big points in the 100 back with a 1-2 finish, as Kaliszak posted a 47.48 to Oslin’s 47.90.

Auburn won two of the four relays. The Tigers took over the lead on butterfly to win the women’s 200 medley relay with a 1:39.39 to Alabama’s 1:40.55. In the women’s 200 free relay, it was Alabama who took the lead after the halfway point, winning by nine tenths of a second with a 1:32.86.

Alabama was untouchable in the men’s relays. In addition to winning the 200 medley relay, the Tide also claimed the 200 free relay with a 1:19.54 to Auburn’s 1:19.62.

2015 Alabama vs. Auburn Dual Meet – Results


  1. avatar
    Lane 0

    17.1 split for Gkolomeev? no way!

    • avatar
      Jeff Commings

      It was a glitch in the timing system. The final time in the relay is right, though, according to Alabama.