March 15, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -
Cesar Cielo swam 50 yards faster than anyone has ever done before Thursday night at the NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, and more impressively, he did it twice in less than an hour. Cielo posted matching times of 18.69 to win the 50 free and leading off the record-setting 200 free relay as Auburn took a 66-point lead after the opening day. The Tigers have 187 points, followed by Arizona (121), Texas (107), Northwestern and Florida (106 each).
Cielo broke the NCAA and US Open records held by former Tiger Fred Bousquet, who had a time of 18.74 in the prelims of the 50 free at the 2005 meet, which was also held in Minneapolis. Prior to Thursday, Bosquet was the only man who had ever swum 50 yards in less than 19 seconds, but Cielo did it four times in one day. He had times of 18.84 and 18.89 during the prelims in the 50 free and 200 free relay, respectively.
"It feels great," said Cielo. "Before today I was just a guy who was trying to break 19 seconds, and I broke it four times. It feels great to break Fred's time, and be the fastest guy in the NCAA. That was one of my dreams, and I'm very happy to reach this level of swimming."
But Cielo was just one of several sprinters who excelled Thursday. The Tigers started the evening session by repeating as champions in the 200 free relay, and they did it impressively. Cielo teamed with Matt Targett, Scott Goodrich and Bryan Lundquist, who all swam sub-19 second splits, to smash the NCAA and U.S. Open records with a time of 1:14.71. Their time was more than one second faster than the old record of 1:15.78 set by California in 2005, which stood until the Tigers posted a mark of 1:15.56 in the prelims.
"It was pretty awesome. I was impressed with our performance," said Lundquist. "I've had 1:14.99 on my water bottle all year long as our goal, and to beat that was pretty impressive even to me. I was kind of surprised that we even beat that, and it feels great."
Less than an hour later, Auburn scored 70 points in the 50 free by placing five swimmers in the top nine. In addition to Cielo's first-place finish, Targett, who was 17th in the 50 free at last year's NCAA meet, tied for second in 19.08 seconds, while Goodrich (19.29) was fifth and Lundquist (19.49) was eighth. Jakob Andkjaer won the consolation final in 19.42 to place ninth overall.
"The sprinters were nothing short of amazing," said head coach David Marsh. "I don't use that word very often when I'm coaching, but that was an exhibition I'd like to say has never been seen at the NCAA level. But since all but Lundquist are underclassmen, I surely hope we'll see more of this for the next few years to come. I'm really pleased not only with Cesar's performance as the fastest human to ever perform in swimming now, but I'm also just as excited to see Bryan Lundquist and Scott Goodrich - guys who weren't the top recruits in the nation, now exerting themselves as the top echelon of sprinters not only in the NCAA but also in the world."
Cielo and Goodrich also helped Auburn finish third in the 400 medley relay to conclude the night. Goodrich led off and Cielo anchored, with David Maras and Alexei Puninski swimming the middle legs as Auburn clocked a time of 3:06.09.
Auburn also received valuable points from its divers, as Steven Segerlin finished third and Kelly Marx sixth on the 1-meter board. Segerlin repeated his finish on the 1-meter board from last year with a score of 371.40, while Marx set a new personal best in the finals with a score of 345.70. Dan Mazzaferro finished 19th in the prelims with a score of 300.25 in the weakest of his three events.
"What an awesome way to start," said diving head coach Jeff Shaffer. "I told the guys, our events go `good, better, best', and if we can improve on today through Friday and Saturday, what a contribution to the team race we would make. I'm so excited for Kelly - what a great job by a freshman to step up. For Steve to come back and get another third-place performance on 1-meter is awesome. I couldn't be prouder."
In the 200 IM, James Wike finished eighth in the championship final with a time of 1:46.06. Jon Roberts placed 14th in the consolation finals with a time of 1:46.21, while Sean Osborne, who was 30th at last year's meet, improved to 15th this year with a time of 1:46.59 in the finals.
Wike also led off Auburn's 400 medley relay team, which posted the third-fastest time in the prelims of 3:09.20. Wike and David Maras, Puninski and Lundquist finished behind only Northwestern (3:07.78) and Stanford (3:08.58).
Neither of Auburn's two swimmers in the 500 free reached the finals. Daniel Slocki came closest, finishing in 4:20.52, which ranked 18th and was just .03 seconds behind the 16th-place finisher. Pascal Wollach finished 32nd with a time of 4:24.65.
Action will resume with the second prelims session beginning Friday at noon. Live results can be found on the Minnesota athletics website at www.gophersports.com.
2007 NCAA Championships
Day One Event Winners and Auburn Finishes
200 free relay
1. Auburn (Cielo, Targett, Goodrich, Lundquist), 1:14.71
1. Larsen Jensen (USC), 4:09.80
1. Adam Ritter (AZ), 1:41.72
8. James Wike, 1:46.06
14. Jon Roberts, 1:46.21
15. Sean Osborne,1:46.59
1. Cesar Cielo, 18.69
T2. Matt Targett, 19.08
5. Scott Goodrich, 19.29
8. Bryan Lundquist, 19.49
9. Jakob Andkjaer, 19.42
1. Terry Horner (FSU), 366.80/399.35
3. Steven Segerlin, 363.80/371.40
6. Kelly Marx, 337.15/345.70
19. Dan Mazzaferro, 300.25
400 medley relay
1. Northwestern (Grevers, Alexandrov, Bubolz, Barbic), 3:04.40
3. Auburn (Goodrich, Maras, Puninski, Cielo), 3:06.09
1. Auburn 187
2. Arizona 121
3. Texas 107
4. Northwestern 106