March 22, 2012
FEDERAL WAY, WASH. - The 2012 Cal men's swim team, looking to defend its 2011 NCAA team title, put on an impressive performance Thursday (March 22) and leads after the first day of the 2012 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. The Golden Bears' 200 free relay team - freshman Tyler Messerschmidt, sophomore Shayne Fleming, freshman Fabio Gimondi and freshman Seth Stubblefield - won the meet's opening event with a time of 1:16.58.
Cal also ended the first day with a relay victory, taking the national title in the 400 medley relay (3:03.24) behind the swims of senior Mathias Gydesen, senior Nolan Koon, junior Tom Shields and freshman Messerschmidt. It was the third year in-a-row the Bears have won the national title in the 400 medley relay.
Coach David Durden's squad also produced an individual national champion during Day One of the NCAAs with sophomore Marcin Tarczynski capturing the 200 IM with a school record time of 1:41.97. Tarczynski broke the record that had been set by senior teammate Martin Liivamagi, who swam a time of 1:43.05 in 2010. Liivamagi placed fourth in the 200 IM at this year's NCAAs with a mark of 1:42.90.
After six events, Cal owns a 157.5 to 140 lead over second place Stanford. Texas is third with 128.5 points and Arizona is fourth with 118 points.
Other top swims for the Bears Thursday were Stubblefield placing fifth (19.57) in the final of the 50 free for 14 points, while Messerschmidt won the B Final of the 50 free with a time of 19.45. Fleming placed 13th in the 50 free with a mark of 19.52.
Freshman Will Hamilton also garnered points for Cal with a B Final victory in the 500 free (4:15.04).
"It was a solid Day One for our guys," said Durden. "I was really happy for Mathias (Gydesen) and Nolan (Koon), as seniors, to lead the 400 medley relay off so well. We will get some rest and go after it tomorrow."
On Friday, the Bears will be competing in the 200 medley relay, the 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back and 800 free relay. Cal's Shields is the defending NCAA champion in the 100 back and is the No. 1 seed in the 100 fly. The Bears' 800 free relay of Shields, Messerschmidt, sophomore Sam Metz and junior Ben Hinshaw is seeded sixth, and Koon is seeded sixth in the 100 breast.
Additional NCAA Notes and Quotes From Day One
NOTES - FINALS - DAY ONE - NCAA DIVISION I MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Fabio Gimondi couldn't remember all of the specifics. But after helping California win the meet-opening 200-yard freestyle relay championship in dramatic fashion from Lane 8 on Thursday night, it seemed clear that for the native of Italy, life in the outside lane isn't necessarily all that bad.
"I think it was a couple years ago when I was in Italy," Gimondi said, "when I set the U-18 or U-19 national record in the 50 free in Lane 1," Gimondi said.
As for which moment was better - a national record in Italy or a national record in Federal Way - suffice to say that Gimondi was all caught up in Thursday's moment.
"I feel so excited. After this morning, we barely made it into the finals," he said of Cal's close preliminary call. (The Bears clocked 1:17.74, just fast enough to edge Florida State's 1:17.92 for the final spot. "But after the 50 free prelims (in which relay teammates Seth Stubblefield, Tyler Messerschmidt and Shayne Fleming made either the final or consolation finals), we knew we could do this."
AND THEN THEY DID IT AGAIN Cal's Tyler Messerschmidt just might want to make a permanent home in Lane 8. He swam the 50-yard leadoff leg on the Bears' victorious 200 free relay, splitting a 19.37. Then, from that same lane in the 50 free consolation finals, he clocked 19.45 to win the race.
Shayne Fleming, Cal's second man on the relay, took fifth in the consolations (13th overall) in 19.52.
TOP SEED DIDN'T MEAN TOP FINISH In the four of Thursday's five swimming finals, someone - or some team - other than the top seed came away with the big prize.
It started with California's eighth-seeded foursome winning the 200 free relay. Top-seeded Texas had to settle for fourth. In the 500 free, second-seeded Martin Grodzki of Georgia was second-seeded going in, but hung on to touch out fourth-seeded Cristian Quintero by 12 hundredths of a second. Michigan sophomore Connor Jaeger, the No. 1 seed, wound up fifth.
Then in the 200 individual medley, Cal's second-seeded Marcin Tarczynski, in third place and trailing top-seeded Stanford freshman David Nolan by 1.7 seconds halfway through, surged from behind to take the victory in 1:41.97. Nolan faded to third in 1:42.85.
Cal was back at it in the night's finale, winning the 400 medley relay from the third-seeded position, while top-seeded Arizona had to settle for second.
LEAVING THEIR PREDECESSORS BEHIND California sophomore Marcin Tarczynski and Texas diver Drew Livingston both came up with better marks than the winners when the NCAAs took place in Federal Way in 2008. Tarczynski's winning time in the 200 IM of 1:41.97 bettered the 1:42.72 that Arizona's Darian Townsend posted here four years ago. Livingston's victorious diving total of 448.10 was well ahead of the 407.25 that Georgia's Chris Colwill posted in 2008. Cal's 400 medley relay also went faster, winning in 3:03.24. Arizona won the 2008 race in 3:04.43
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? Although plenty of swimming remains, Cal is well ahead of its total after the first day of last year's NCAAs. The Bears have 157.5 points at the conclusion of Thursday's action. In the 2011 meet at Minneapolis, the Bears were in third with 134 points before going on to win their first title in 31 years. Texas was last year's first-day leader with 139; the Longhorns are third this time with 128.5. Stanford was in second place a year ago with 136; the Cardinal also are second now with 140.
Arizona, whose only NCAA title came in 2008 in Federal Way, is fourth after Thursday's action with 118 points.
200 Freestyle Relay Winner (Fabio Gimondi, California) "I'm so excited. We didn't think we'd do it after this morning. We were in eighth place, and barely made the final. After our 50 freestyle, we knew we could do it. It was really amazing. I want to say thank you to my buddies, my swimmates, Seth [Stubblefield], Tyler [Messerschmidt] and Shayne [Fleming], and my coaches, David [Durden] and Greg [Meehan]."
200 Individual Medley Winner (Marcin Tarczynski, California) "Whenever I race, I don't care who's next to me because I don't think anyone has a monopoly on winning. I don't really understand the obsession with David Nolan. Obviously he's a great swimmer, but there were six other guys in the field I was racing; it wasn't only David Nolan." "That was a huge job for me. I think I finally figured out how to swim yards, because I struggled a bit with that last year. So a two and half second drop is amazing for me."
400 Medley Relay Winner (Tom Shields, California) "It was fun. It was really good. I didn't think too much. I have a chronic problem of thinking and over-thinking my races. I got out of the pool from warm up, after warming up a ridiculous amount. I looked at coach Durden and I said, `you know, I feel good, but I don't feel ready.' And he said, `Tom, if you're ahead, then you're going to be fine and if you're behind, then you're totally going to forget that anyway and you're going to be fine.' And that kind of spoke to me, and I was like, `Okay. Sounds good.' I trust Durden a lot; he's guided us through so much and it was a really fun split. It was a fun time. It was really fun to see a lot of new faces in relay spots from the year before that. It's just such a cool, young environment. To have Tyler Messerschmidt come back and just rip it on that last 100, that was really breathtaking to me. It was just really fun to see."