Louisville Cardinals Reflect on First Relay Win: ‘We Made History’ With ‘Special Connection’

Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

There have been several first-time or drought-breaking NCAA titles won in just a two-day span, but the last one was the most unexpected. While Cal and Texas are battling it out for the team title and were poised to battle for the 200 medley relay title, it was the Louisville Cardinals who stunned the field with an historic victory.

The Louisville Cardinals won the 200 medley relay, their first relay title in program history, behind Mitchell Whyte, Evgenii Somov, Nicolas Albeiro and Haridi Sameh.

“I closed my eyes and went for it,” Sameh said of his anchor leg.


Haridi Sameh. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

Whyte led off with a 20.70, followed by Somov with a 22.87, Albiero with a 20.07 and Sameh with an anchor split of 18.45 as the Cardinals won the race in 1:22.11 to break the Greensboro Aquatic Center Pool record and hold off Florida, Cal, Ohio State and Texas.

“It means a lot. We made history, not only this year winning ACCs, but we made it again being the first relay to win NCAAs, which is awesome — and going a best time in the 50 back is just amazing for me,” Whyte said.

It is the first relay title for the Cardinals and fifth NCAA title overall.

“All of us have a special connection,” Somov said.

That special Louisville Cardinals connection comes from all over the world. Somov is from Russia, Whyte is from Minnesota, Sameh is from Egypt and Albiero is from Louisville, his father and coach Arthur Albiero is from Brazil.

“Our team as a whole is pretty diverse so it is nothing new to us. The four of us have been doing this relay for a long time together, so it just felt like a family race,” Nicolas Albiero said.


Nicolas Albiero. Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

It was part of a spectacular day for Nicolas Albiero, who earned two individual All-American honors during an evening with a tough individual double.

“(The relay) is my favorite thing to line up with these guys. They give me confidence and that is what pushes us to be better,” Albiero said.

Albiero started strong with a second-place finish in the 100 butterfly, touching the wall in 44.32, just seven hundredths of a second behind Cal’s Ryan Hoffer.

He didn’t have long to celebrate since he would be competing again three events later.

Albiero took fifth in the 100 backstroke, finishing in 44.86, to complete his individual double.

“The mentality that we all go through is the mentality of, ‘next,’” Albiero said. “You do one race and put it in a box, whether it is good, bad or ugly, then focus on the next one. I knew I had the 100 fly first and I went out for it and it happened. It was great, but then I had to warm down and put it in a box, then the 100 back went well, then the same thing and I had to focus on the relay with these guys. I gave the 100 fly what I had then tried to get it all back, then did the same in the 100 back, then the same for the relay.”

But he still had the 200 medley relay to go and he and the Louisville Cardinals saved their best for last with an unexpected and historic victory.

“We have been together for long enough to act like a family,” Sameh said. “That is what we did today — we won like a family.”

A family from around the world that came together for an historic win.

“We just forget that we are from different places,” Whyte said. “We are just Louisville.”

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Ad Djo
Ad Djo
3 years ago

They looked happy and as a family as everyone stressed, congrats for the win

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