This week’s HardCore Swim goes to a swimmer who inspired some engaging chatter in our comments section not for one single swim, but instead for the hardcore way he swam a number of events (and distance) at the Pac-12 Men’s Championships.
USC had the great fortune of entering an oustanding distance/middle distance swimmer into the Pac-12 ring, one who won both the 200 (1:32.81) and 500 (4:12.56) frees. The Trojans also had an athlete who could bring the heat in the splash-and-dash, anchoring their 200 free relay in 18.8, one of the faster splits in the nation so far.
The interesting part is that those two athletes are the same person: junior Cristian Quintero.
Quintero showed off some impressive range at Pac-12s, combining big-time speed with the length and endurance to impact longer races. He won the 200 and 500 frees and finished a strong second in the 100. But where his range might be most helpful to USC is in relays – as good as many freestylers in the NCAA are, you won’t find many who can headline a 200 free relay and an 800 free relay in the same week, which Quintero did. He split 1:31.9 on the Trojan’s 800 team before putting up that 18.8 over the shorter distance.
There’s no doubt Quintero could have scored big points in any of the freestyle distances, even outside the range that he entered in (100-500 yards). The question has arisen if Quintero is the first men to break 15 minutes in a mile as well as 19 seconds in a 50, and whether he’s the first or not, he’s certainly in very elite company with that kind of resume.
The Trojans will likely need to lean on Quintero even more at NCAAs, but they couldn’t pick an athlete with more weapons to rely on. His scary combination of speed and endurance is a truly hardcore feat.
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