The Alabama Crimson Tide were without two-time NCAA champion Kristian Gkolomeev in the NCAA’s 2015-2016 season opener, but didn’t miss a beat, sweeping all 28 swimming events to top Delta State on the road.
The Crimson Tide men won 213-49, while the women topped Division II Delta State 219-42.
A well-rounded effort saw the Alabama men pick up the team victory, with 11 different swimmers taking home 12 individual wins.
Junior Pavel Romanov led the way with dual titles. Romanov swept the breaststroke races, including a big 100 breast win over Delta State’s star Matteo Fraschi.
Romanov went 55.43 in that race, building a three-tenth lead at the 50-turn but really powering away late to win decisively. Fraschi, an NSISC co-Swimmer of the Year last season, was 56.80, which isn’t a bad place to start the year either.
Romanov would come back to beat out teammate Anton McKee for the 200 breast win, going 2:01.26. McKee, who hails from Iceland, was 2:03.93.
For his part, McKee won the 200 IM late in the meet, going 1:52.33. He topped teammate and 200 fly champ Taylor Charles by three tenths. Charles had perhaps one of the highlight swims of the meet, going 1:49.60 to dominate the 200 fly.
Beyond that, Alabama’s stars pretty much rolled, though not always in their signature events. Star backstroker Connor Oslin jumped into the 100 fly and took the win, going 49.28. NCAA qualifier Christopher Reid won the 100 back (his time was not available) over last year’s freshman sensation Luke Kaliszak. Relay All-American Brett Walsh went 20.54 to take the 50 free.
Both of the sprint free races were great ones. Walsh topped Delta State’s Mattia Schirru by three tenths there, but after the diving break, Schirru came back to give Alex Gray a run for the 100 free title. Schirru went 45.57, but Gray just got the touchout win at 45.50.
The big absence of the meet was NCAA champ Kristian Gkolomeev in those sprints. The Greek sprinter did not appear on the results, but is still listed on the Alabama roster. It’s not uncommon for teams to hold out their stars in the early season, especially when they are coming off of a big summer season internationally. We saw the same thing with Arizona’s Kevin Cordes and Brad Tandey for much of last fall.
Some good news for the Crimson Tide moving forward: highly-touted freshman Knox Auerbach won the 200 free, followed by another first-year, Canada’s Christian Arseneau. Auerbach was 1:39.38, Arseneau 1:40.28.
Other event winners:
- Jack Hadjiconstantinou won the 1000 free to open the meet, going 9:25.38.
- Second in that race was Carl Madden, who would go on to win the 500 free in 4:37.31.
- Crews Wellford won the 200 back, though his time was unavailable.
- Wellford came up with the best split on the winning 400 free relay, going 44.86 on the anchor leg. Just a tick faster was Walsh from the B relay at 44.40.
- Oslin was solid in the 100 back leading off the winning medley relay. He split 47.85.
The women’s meet had more multi-event winners and was even more lopsided, with Alabama winning every single event in a 1-2 or better.
Paige Matherson, Emma Saunders, Bridget Blood and Mia Nonnenberg all won a pair of races apiece, with Nonnenberg nearly taking a triple.
Nonnenberg, a sophomore and returning NCAA qualifier, started off her night with a narrow second-place finish behind Saunders in the 200 free, 1:51.24 to 1:50.40. But just a few events later, Nonnenberg would win a tight 200 fly battle with teammate Hannah Musser. Nonnenberg was 2:01.03, Musser 2:01.87.
Finally, Nonnenberg took the 200 IM to close the meet, going 2:03.05 and winning handily.
Saunders would add the 200 back to her wins for the night (2:00.90) and Musser, a transfer from Western Kentucky, went 55.61 to win the 100 fly in her Alabama debut.
Blood swept the breaststrokes, leading 1-2-3 finishes in both. She was 1:03.97 in the 100 and 2:19.16 in the 200, with teammate Stephanie Klotz right behind in both.
Also winning twice was sophomore Paige Matherson, who swept the distance events and shut down Delta State’s top swimmer, Melanie Tombers. Matherson was 10:19.60 to win the 1000, relegating Tombers to third place, and added a 5:03.26 to win the 500 free. Tombers was fourth in that race at 5:16.75. The 10.31.63 from Tombers in that 1000 was the highest Delta State finish of the night on the women’s side, tied with third-place Celina Batsel in the 200 free (1:58.38) and third-place Anastasia Klyarovskaya in the 100 back (57.74).
Other event winners:
- Katie Kelsoe won the 100 back in 56.12, and was also second in the 200 back behind Saunders.
- Bailey Scott took the 50 free in 24.17.
- The other sprint event, the 100 free, went to Caroline Beene, who was 52.39 to touch out Scott by .01 seconds.
- Saunders had a 51.78 leadoff split on the 400 free relay to lead the winning Alabama team. The Crimson Tide went 1-2-3 in the event (though only two relays could score points).
- Freshman Temarie Tomley topped that with a 50.64 anchoring the winning 400 medley relay. Musser was also quick, with a 54.82 fly split.