NCAA Division I Men’s Champs: Auburn’s Cesar Cielo Breaks 41! New 100 Free NCAA, U.S. Open Record; On Demand Video Available

FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 29. AUBURN's Cesar Cielo officially became the bonafide rock star of the meet when he broke the 41-second barrier in the 100 free with an astounding time of 40.92 at the NCAA Division I Men's Championships.

He shattered his previous U.S. Open and NCAA record of 41.12 set during prelims. Here's what the splits of a sub-41 100-yard free look like: 9.27, 19.60, 30.26, 40.92.

"In the morning I broke my best time of 41.17 with a 41.12 and I got really confident," Cielo said. "I felt like I could break 40 but you never know what's going to happen. In these events, it's really hard to predict so I just came out tonight and I tried to do my best.

"I was relieved actually," Cielo continued regarding swimming sub 41. "Everyone has been talking about it all season. It's just hard when everyone's expecting you to do something that you don't know if you're going to achieve or not. I felt the pressure was really strong and I handled it pretty well so I'm pretty happy with myself."

Incredibly, Yale's Alex Righi gave Cielo all he could through the initial 50 yards as he touched in 19.65. Righi, however, was eaten up at the wall and wound up with a second-place time of 42.13 – off his prelim time of 41.94. Arizona's Nicolas Nilo rounded out the top three in 42.42.

Not only did the win give Cielo his second straight victory in the event, he became the first person since the amazing Matt Biondi to win both the 50 and 100 free in successive years. Biondi accomplished the feat from 1986-87.

The win is Auburn's fourth in the event as Rowdy Gaines won the other two titles when he went back-to-back from 1980-81. Notably, Gaines was in attendance this evening as a commentator for the ESPN crew. Gaines also gave out the awards at the podium later in the evening.

Arizona pushed its lead to triple digits with a 107.5 advantage over Texas, 444.5 to 337. California (270.5), Stanford (247) and Auburn (246) claimed the rest of the top five.

Event results

ON DEMAND VIDEO