400 yard IM
This is probably the one race that the Pac-10 doesn’t have a legitimate National Championship contender in. In fact, the conference will have to fight for even an A-final spot. But Matt Thompsen could be the swimmer that bucks that trend. He won the men’s 400 IM in 3:45.01, which ranks 10th in the country. But this is almost identical to his career best time that was set a year ago to the day. I have a hard time believing that a swimmer like Thompson hasn’t gotten any faster in a full year, which could mean a big swim is coming at NCAA’s.
In second in this event was Cal Poly’s Peter Kline in 3:45.91. This was a very important swim for his program at their very first Pac-10 Championship. Kline is a senior and will be moving on, but Poly can use this swim to show recruits that they have the coaching to compete with the Pac-10’s great programs, and that, with the right talent, they can make huge moves forward. The next two places were taken by Cal swimmers Ben Hinshaw (3:46.33) and Martin Liivamagi (3:48.45).
Cal and Stanford were roughly even in this event, which is about what was expected.
100 yard butterfly
This was the race of the meet that pitted the past two NCAA Champions in this event against each other: Austin Staab, the 2009 champ and U.S. Open Record Holder, and Tom Shields, who took the title in a Staab-less race last season as only a freshman. The two were nearly identical through the 50 mark (with Shields holding a tiny lead). But on the back half of the race, Staab was just a little bit stronger, and pushed through to a win (and Pac-10 Championship record) of 44.66. Shields was just behind in 44.78, which means that these two now have the two best times in the country…and it’s not even close (roughly a second separates them from Michigan’s Sean Fletcher, who now ranks 3rd).
Cal had a ton of depth in this event, including a 3rd place finish from Graeme Moore (46.20), who was just able to out-touch his teammate Nathan Adrian (46.21) All-told, Call had five A-finalists in this event, which netted them big points and cut Stanford’s lead in half.
200 yard freestyle
Much of the focus in the USC freshman class has been on Vlad Morozov (for good reason). But Dimitri Colupaev is going to be just as great, and just as important in the future of this Trojan program. He is a 200-yard specialist, and he’s on a path to be a future star in this freestyle race both collegiately and internationally. His 1:34.05 winning time ranks him as the fastest freshman in the country, and 9th overall, this season.
USC had two out of the top three finishers in this event, including senior Clement Lefert finishing 3rd in 1:34.39. In between these two touched Stanford’s Jake Allen in 1:34.28, which is a huge season best by three-and-a-half seconds for him. This was a great swim, and the fastest he’s ever been since the end of the polyurethane-suit era.
Stanford dominated the scoring in this event. They had four A-finalists, as well as the B-final Champion Alex Coville, whose 1:35.12 was the fourth best in the evening session. Cal managed only a single scoring, a 13th place finish from freshman Samuel Metz, and this allowed the Cardinal to open nearly a 100-point lead. The result in this race made the next race, the 100 breaststroke, extremely significant.
100 yard breaststroke
Cal’s Damir Dugonjic has won the last two NCAA Championships in this race, as well as the last-two Pac-10 Championships. His teammate Nolan Koon hung with him through 50-yards, but shortly thereafter faded behind Dugonjic’s strong finish in 51.88. This gives Dugonjic the four fastest-times ever swum at the Pac-10 Championships, and is much faster than he was at last year’s Pac-10’s.
Koon finished 2nd in 52.54. Little-known Cal senior Nick Ferrif had a sensational swim to take 3rd in 52.77, which is his career-best time by almost a second. Fourth went to yet another Cal swimmer, Martti Aljand, who was 4th in 52.81. In fact, Cal’s 5 finalists maxed their points, thanks to a B-final win from Trevor Hoyt. Despite a loaded field, Cal picked up as many points as they possibly could have hoped for in this race, which was absolutely vital for them. Again, this cut Stanford’s lead in half, and the Golden Bears now sat only 39 points back.
100 yard backstroke
Cal’s Tom Shields is planning on tackling the 100 fly/200 free double at NCAA’s, but here he decided he wasn’t quite ready for that. No matter, he eased himself into that with a two-event session that included this 100 back. He won the race in 45.65, which is the third-best time in the country.
Arizona’s Cory Chitwood is considered by many to be close-to a lock to win this race at NCAA’s. He didn’t look anywhere near ready for that in this race, with a B-final championship of 47.57, which is a full 1.01 seconds behind his season-best time. He was shown up in this race by senior teammate Ivan Tolic, who nobody saw coming given that he hadn’t been faster than a 49.5 this season. He finished second in this race in 46.76, which ranks him in the top-15 times in the country this season.
USC’s Vlad Morozov, who is much more than just a sprint freestyler, showed his versatility by taking third in this race in 46.90. Cal, with four A-finalists (versus just one for Stanford) was able to surge into a single-digit lead after this event.
400 yard medley relay
By this point of the meet, 3-meter diving points were factored into the score, and Stanford had taken back the lead. They hoped to solidify that lead in the 400 yard medley relay, which is a race that Cal is absolutely loaded in. Though the scoring from this event wasn’t all that significant, it really helped Cal continue to build the momentum that they had earned over the last three events. Their 3:05.29 winning time is the second-best time in the country this season, and included a 41.66 anchor from Nathan Adrian.
Cal has a few decisions to make on this relay at NCAAs. Based on what Shields did in the 100 backstroke, and what his teammates have done in that same race, it’s very possible that Dave Durden decides to go with a bit of a curveball and shift Shields to backstroke, and putting Graeme Moore (who swims the butterfly leg on the 200 medley) into this race. If things go as expected, amongst the four backstrokers and butterfliers (Barnea, Shields, Moore, and Gydesen), only Barnea will have an individual race on day 1 of the championships; and that race is only the 50 free. Cal has a ton of great options in these medleys, and they all appear to point to gold medals.
As expected, Cal and Stanford will battle down to the last day of this meet. Of the 6 individual final days events, two will be in the favor of Cal (100 free, 200 breast), two will be in the favor of Stanford (1650 free, platform diving), and two will be fairly even (200 back, 200 fly). Even though their lead is only 19 points, that might be just enough for Stanford to hold off Cal.
There’s also a great battle going on for third-place. USC seems to have the advantage on Day 3, especially with how Arizona has been swimming.
1. Stanford 599
2. Cal 580
3. USC 339
4. Arizona 336
5. Arizona State 190
6. UC-Santa Barbara 115
7. Cal Poly 114