We have finished another college season as the Men’s NCAA Championships finished this past Sunday. There were countless close races, excellent relays, and a clear-cut winner – Texas! Overall, the 2009-2010 college swimming and diving championships showed excellent performances from a significant number of swimmers, and TSC is here to acknowledge their accomplishments throughout the meet as well as the entire year. Without further ado, our award winners are:
Swimmer of NCAA Champs
Andy — Conor Dwyer, Jr, Florida — Conor Dwyer had an outstanding meet collecting two national titles (500 freestyle and 200 freestyle) through this year’s NCAA’s. However, it’s not just the victories that give him my vote for swimmer of NCAA’s. It’s more or less how he swam the events – in the 500 free, he trailed in last place through the first 100(well, ahead of Hassaan Abdel Khalik who hurt his hand in prelims and had to start off the push), and then started to kick it in during the 200 and turned on the afterburners as he negative split the last 200 and finished the last 50 with a 24.84 split. The 200 was much of the same, and is the reason why he wins this award for me.
Braden –– Nathan Adrian, Jr, Cal — In the men’s national championship, Adrian had a monster of a performance. He won the 100 freestyle, was runner up in the 50, and was a part of 3 National Title winning Cal relays. His 100 free time of 41.50 was very fast in the post-polyurethane era, and twice split under 41 seconds in relays. Adrian just had an incredible meet, over an incredible number of swims, and that’s why he wins this award.
Comeback Swimmer of the Year
Andy — Josh Schneider, Sr, Cincinnati — When you look at year-round performances, Josh Schneider has been pretty consistent with his in-conference swims. However, that was not the case in NCAA Champs. Last year he came in 15th for the 50 freestyle, 44th in the 100 fly, and 36th in the 100 free. To say the least, not the performance that he wanted, but also not entirely his fault as he was ill prior to the meet (to be honest, he might have been sick during the meet as well). Either way, Schneider made a significant comeback this year at NCAA’s with a national title win in the 50 freestyle (and a new pool record by breaking the 19 second mark), a 9th place touch in the 100 fly, and a 6th place finish in the 100 freestyle. Josh Schneider had an outstanding comeback performance for champs and is my selection for the Comeback Swimmer of the Year.
Braden –– Cory Chitwood, So, Arizona –– Chitwood was overrun with hardships this NCAA season. He missed the entire 2008-2009 season due to shoulder surgery. Then, a few months ago, his former club coach Andy Rose tragically passed away. And as if all of that wasn’t enough, Chitwood was one of nine Arizona athletes who was hospitalized by the Norovirus, which threatened the final taper that Arizona relies so heavily on. It’s the kind of story that TV movies are made of. But despite all of this, Chitwood persevered to have an outstanding meet, including winning the 200 backstroke on the final day of competition. This is an amazing performance and demonstration of mental fortitude from the Arizona sophomore, and I look for more great performances from him in the future.
Freshman of the Year
Braden and Andy –– Tom Shields, Fr, Cal –– Shields didn’t exactly catch anyone by surprise in his intial collegiate season. Shields was the 2009 National High School Swimmer of the Year, and in his senior season broke the national high school record in the 200 free. But the level of success he had, even in the grueling butterfly events, was still impressive. Shields was the National Champ in the 100 fly, and runner-up in the 200 fly, and helped his team to a second place national finish.
Coach of the Year
Braden and Andy –– Eddie Reese, Texas –– Coach Reese won his 10th National Title at Texas, 29 years after winning his first. But it wasn’t just the win that makes Reese the Coach of the Year. Reese led his charges after some of them were reported to have been hospitalized in the Noro-Gate drama. Reese set his team up to win National Championships. The Longhorns only won 1 individual event, Austin Surhoff in the 200 IM, and 1 relay, the 800 free, but still won the team title in relatively convincing fashion by 31.5 points. He also made sure to take care of his diving program, which scored his team a whopping 50 points. Reese also recruited a squad that included 16 All-Big 12 Academic first or second team recipients. Reese gets the nod on the strength of his ability to lead and develop a very well-rounded program.
Student Athlete of the Year
Braden and Andy –– Jimmy Feigen, So, Texas –– In his first year of eligibility, Texas’ Jimmy Feigen made the Big 12 All-Academic first team, which means that his GPA was at least a 3.20. Feigen backed up his academic pursuits with his well-known athletic performance, which included a runner-up finish in the 50 freestyle, and obviously a team National Championship. Feigen, along with 15 of his Longhorn teammates who joined him on the All-academic squad, show that the folks in Austin are building a quality program with quality young men.
Breakout Swimmer of the Year
Andy — Adam Brown, So, Auburn — When it comes to sprints, anything can truly happen. This year, in NCAA’s, Adam Brown as beat in the 50 free by only two people – and that is as a sophomore. Now, those two people were Josh Schneider (your winner) and Nathan Adrian (who is considered one of the best freestyle swimmers out there). With that said, he only lost to Adrian by .01 – if only he grew his fingernails out a little more! However, the reason why Adam Brown gets my vote as the Breakout Swimmer of the Year is because he was ineligible for the 2008-2009 season, and truly lifted the veil of uncertainty throughout the entire year. I am looking forward to seeing him dominate the freestyle events his junior and senior year with the Tigers.
Braden –– Josh Schneider, Sr, Cincinnati — Schneider wasn’t totally unknown in previous seasons. He always has a good season. His big problem in past seasons has been carrying a great regular season into a great performance at the NCAA Championships. This year, however, he finally broke through, and grabbed the NCAA title in the 50 freestyle. Schneider also finished sixth in the 100 freestyle, and was the consolation champion in the 100 butterfly.
Diver of the Year
Braden and Andy –– David Boudia, So, Purdue –– David Boudia of Purdue pulled off a springboard double, by taking the 1-meter and 3-meter events, both by over 30 points, and both with NCAA meet record scores. He also placed sixth in the platform. He also scored over half of his teams points (53/97). With two more seasons of eligibility left, it’s going to be tough for anyone to knock Boudia off in either springboard event any time soon, and Purdue’s rapidly improving swimming program makes the Boilermakers a team to watch for a run at the top 10 next season.
Swimmer of the Year
Andy — Nathan Adrian, Jr, Cal — There is no doubt about it – Nathan Adrian was one of the best sprinters throughout this year. He was not beat in dual meets, and came in second in the 50 free to Josh Schneider. He won the 2010 title for the 100 freestyle, and to top those performances, was a part of 3 title wins for relay teams. To say the least, he has had a stellar junior year with the Cal Bears, and will be back to lead Cal into a season where they will likely be the favorite to win the National Championship. Even though he was not my pick in any of the sprints prior to championships, he absolutely gets my vote for Swimmer of the Year!
Braden –– Tyler Clary, Jr, Michigan –– Although he only (the term only used in relative terms) won 1 event at the National Championships, Clary ended the season with the nation’s top time in 3 different events, the 200 backstroke, 200 IM, and 400 IM. His Michigan Wolverines dominated their opponents on the way to a perfect 7-0 dual meet record, thanks in no small part to his efforts. Beyond that, his 400 IM National Championship swim was one of the more dominating swims of the meet. He won the race by almost 2 seconds, and looked like he eased off the gas a little at the end of the race. Considering the entire body of work, Clary is hands down my swimmer of the year.
So, we put an excellent 2009-2010 college swim season to rest. A season that was marked in controversy with technical suit debates, caffeine intake, and great competition between several great teams. Congratulations to all of the college swimmers out there for your awesome performances, and we can only look forward to next year!
If you have any other thoughts as to who should have gotten what awards please feel free to comment at the bottom of this article.