By John Lohn
CRANBURY, New Jersey, February 12. FOLKS, this is when it gets good. The weekend brought the start of the collegiate postseason, not to mention an ultra-quick dual meet between Stanford and California. Next week, more college action will dot the radar and many of the United States’ big names will be in Missouri for Grand Prix competition. Here are some more random thoughts.
**When the March issue of Swimming World Magazine is delivered, it will include the annual NCAA Championships previews. For the men, Texas and Stanford were slotted into the top-two slots, ahead of four-time defending champion Auburn. As the author who wrote that preview piece, I’m sticking with my initial feeling and read on the situation.
With that said, there’s no doubt that Auburn has the ability to capture a fifth consecutive championship. After all, the Tigers were blazing fast over the weekend at the Southeastern Conference Championships, with Cesar Cielo leading the way. The sprinter threatened the 19-second barrier in the 50-yard freestyle with a clocking of 19.03. He also took top honors in the 100 free with a time of 41.85, good for an SEC record.
In relay action, Auburn threw down the hammer with a quartet of victories, the most impressive in the 200 medley relay (1:24.63) and 400 free relay (2:51.31). As for the 50 free, five Tigers registered swims of 19.82 or quicker in the final. On a stage where sprinting points add up in a hurry, Auburn could have the proper mix to extend its title streak.
**As for Texas and Stanford, the across-the-board depth of those two programs is eye-popping. While the Longhorns will have the chance to show their status at the upcoming Big 12 Champs, the Cardinal looked sharp during Saturday action against California. Each year, the Stanford and Cal dual meet is one of the fastest in the country, usually the swiftest.
Proving itself an NCAA championship contender, Stanford received a 19.39 effort from Ben Wildman-Tobriner in the 50 free. BWT also went 43.30 and 43.15 (relay leadoff) in the 100 free and anchored the 200 medley relay in 18.80. Other highlights included a 1:41.22 effort from Hongzhe Sun in the 200 backstroke and a quartet of sub-two-minute swims in the 200 breaststroke.
**If there was any doubt as to the significance diving plays in the determination of championships, take a look at the results from the Big Ten Conference Champs. Indiana University emerged as a 153.5-point winner over Michigan and a 178-point victor over Penn State. In a big way, the Hoosiers’ triumph was made possible by 181 points piled up in the three diving events.
**In Missouri next weekend, a number of medal contenders at next month’s World Championships will be racing at the latest stop on USA Swimming’s Grand Prix circuit. The meet will provide a gauge as to the status of athletes such as Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen and Katie Hoff. The meet certainly will heighten expectations for Australia.
**On the high school scene, Center Grove’s Michelle McKeehan set a national-scholastic record in the 200 individual medley, thanks to a time of 1:58.06 at the Indiana State Champs. But, how long will the standard last? There’s a good chance Mary Beck will lower the mark at this weekend’s Texas Champs. After all, Beck went 1:58.28 just over a week ago for the former record. And, she stated there’s more in the tank.
Also, for those curious about the full weekend in college swimming, here are the stories as they appeared on SwimmingWorldMagazine.com:
Pac-10 Diving Championships Conclude DePauw Men, Trinity Women Take Home Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships Mary Washington Holds Lead Into Third Day at Capital Athletic Conference Championships Puget Sound & Linfield College on Top Going Into Final Day at Northwest Conference Championships Grinnell Maintains Its Lead Heading Into the Final Day at the Midwest Conference Championships UC San Diego Men and Women Capture PCSC Titles Emory Earns Ninth Straight University Athletic Association Championships A Day in the Life: Matt Lenton, Day 4 Indiana Claims Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championship Stanford, Arizona State Responsible for Wins on Second Day of Pac-10 Diving Championships SwimmingWorldMagazine.com Rewind: 20-Year Splashback – February 1987 Westminster Men and Women Win PAC Championships for Second Consecutive Year Wheaton Teams Finish First in Their Own Pool at CCIW Championships Kenyon Teams Victorious at North Coast Athletic Conference Geneseo Men, Oswego Women Take Home SUNYAC Championship Titles UMBC Maintains Lead at America East Championships on Second Day Marist Takes Home MAAC Title Salukis Win 2007 Missouri Valley Conference Swimming and Diving Championship Meet of the Week Recap: No. 2 Stanford Outlasts No. 4 California, 169-131 UC San Diego Teams Maintain Lead After Third Day at PCSCC Linfield Men, Whitworth Women In Front at Northwest Championships Swimming World Radio Speaks With Swimming World Magazine’s College Swimmers of the Week Elaine Breeden and Matt Stewart A Day in the Life: Matt Lenton, Day 3 Mary Washington Jumps to Lead at the Capital Athletic Conference Championships Grinnell Swims Ahead After First Day of Competition at Midwest Conference Championships Westminster Teams Remain Ahead at the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Championships Cortland Men, Oswego Women Lead SUNYAC Championships Hoosiers Bolt Into First Place at Big Ten Championships Wheaton Still Holds Lead after Second Day of CCIW Swimming Championships Kenyon Leads Men’s and Women’s Meet After Day Two of NCAC Championships UMBC Holds Lead on Second Day of America East Championships Marist Teams Move to Top of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Southern Illinois Pulls Ahead at Missouri Valley Championships Auburn Swimmers Take Six Titles During Day Three Of SEC Championships To Take Commanding Leads Into Final Day Stanford Sweeps Diving Accolades on First Day of Pac-10 Championships UC-San Diego Teams Lead Pacific Collegiate Swimming Conference CSCAA Releases Newest Dual Meet Rankings Geneseo Men, Oswego Women Lead SUNYAC Championships Emory Teams On Top of University Athletic Association Championships on First Day A Day in the Life: Matt Lenton, Day 2 Flash! New Jersey Legislative Committee Unanimously Passes Resolution Urging Rutgers to Reinstate Cut Sports