Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
September was a very light month in terms of major NCAA dual meets – until its final days.
But an Ohio State – Alabama showdown in Columbus on September 27 provided all the fireworks the month needed. Especially on the men’s side, where a thrilling back and forth meet came down to just 8 points.
Ohio State won the meet while losing both relays – not an easy feat in the NCAA’s dual meet scoring system. That’s a testament to great coaching and roster-building from Buckeyes skipper Bill Dorenkott, who used his team’s depth and maximized strengths to win the dual.
Alabama won both relays, but Dorenkott spread his swimmers out between A and B relays to finish 2nd and 3rd. After Alabama went 1-2 in the 1000 free, the same depth strategy came up big in the 200, where Alabama’s Robert Howard won, but Ohio State’s three entrants went 2-3-4, led by Paul DeLakis, who Dorenkott left off the medley relays a few events earlier. With Ohio State highly-favored to go 1-2-3 in both diving events, the name of the game for the swimmers was to dominate events where Alabama was weak and just weather the storm in the Crimson Tide’s top events, keeping the scores from ever showing up too lopsided.
In particular, the 200-yard stroke events were good for Ohio State. The Buckeyes went 1-2-3 in the 200 breast and 1-2 in the 200 fly, despite losing all three 100s.
The biggest showdown was in the sprints, where Dorenkott put star Canadian freshman Ruslan Gaziev up against ‘Bama’s top swimmers, Howard in the 50 and Laurent Bams in the 100. Gazier won the 50 free 20.19 to 20.25 and the 100 free 43.79 to 44.58, pulling in a points advantage in some of the visiting team’s strongest events.
A smart lineup and a strong team effort brought Ohio State a 156-144 win over Alabama, with the 28th-place team from last year’s NCAAs beating the 13th-place team.
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