California’s Nathan Adrian waited a long time to swim his first NCAA meet of the 2010-2011 season. His first performance was well worth it, however, as he threw down a thunderous performance in Cal’s triple-distance meet against Stanford on Wednesday.
Adrian led the way for number 2 Cal as they put on a dominating show against mega-rival number 3 Stanford in this unique, but exciting, meet format. In the “triple-distance” meet, the swimmers split into different specialty groups, and swim three distances within that specialty. The times from each of the three events are totaled, and the swimmer with the lowest total time wins. For example, the sprinters and strokers swim the 50, 100, and 200 of their stroke. IM’ers swim 100, 200, and 400 IM’s. The distance swimmers do a 200, 500, and 1000 freestyle.
Nathan Adrian blew the competition away in the sprint group, winning all three distances, including putting up easily the country’s best times in the 50 and 100 freestyles of 19.67 and 43.27. He did one better in the 200 free relay by leading off in a flat-start 19.43. He is now the only swimmer in the country to go below 20 seconds in the 50 freestyle (and he’s done it twice) and the only swimmer below44 in the 100 freestyle.
Adrian was not the only Golden Bear to put up great times in the dual. Cal’s Tom Shields, the defending national champion in the 100 fly, swam a 48.06 that ranks third nationally. His 1:46.57 in the 200 fly is the second-best time in the country. Stanford’s Austin Staab, who didn’t swim for the Cardinal last season but was reportedly going to return this year, was absent from this meet, thus missing out on a matchup between the last two NCAA Champions in the 100 fly.
Cal’s Damir Dugonjic touched first in the 100 breaststroke in 55.08, which would have been the nation’s best time except that he was DQ’ed.
Stanford, though clearly outmatched in most of the stroke events, did manage to shine in the distance races. Chad La Tourette and Scott Korotkin finished 1-2 in the 500 free in matching 4:30’s. They repeated that feat in the 1000 free, with La Tourette going a 9:14 and Korotkin a 9:17. In the 1000, in fact, the Cardinal took the top three spots, rounded out by Michael Zoldos in 9:19.
These distance events are an area that Cal knew was their biggest weakness coming into the season. Though tonight’s results confirmed those suspicions, they have to be encouraged by a very good performance from freshman Jeremy Bagwell who was third in the 500 in 4:33.7, and fourth in the 1000 in 9:34.9.
Then there’s the Cal medley relay. There, they took first and second in 1:29.76 and 1:30.93, both which would place in the top 11 in the country. What’s even scarier is that they pulled that off without Adrian anchoring either relay, which would have given them easily the best time in the country. Stanford finished well back at 1:32.5. Though in this meet no swimmers swam both relays, it’s likely that Cal will try and repeat their strategy from NCAA’s last season, where they won the 200 medley without Adrian. Cal also won the 200 free relay easilyin 1:21.31.
Cal had not shown much leading up to this meet, which was a day late to count on the initial CSCAA poll that came out this morning, which had them and Stanford receiving the same number of votes. It appears now, however, that at the very least there is a huge gap between the number two and number three teams in the country.