NCAA Mens Swimming Championship

March 31, 2008 3:54:53 PM PDT
Arizona wins an NCAA title over Texas and a Stanford junior wins the 100 breaststroke.

Albert Subirats helped Arizona move into position for its first NCAA men's swimming title, winning the 100-yard butterfly Friday night for his third career NCAA victory.

Subirats, a senior from Venezuela, pushed strong out of the final turn, and came from behind down the last 25 yards to capture his second consecutive title in the 100 fly. Subirats' final time of 45.07 was half a second off his winning mark of 44.57 a year ago, but was enough to touch out top-seeded Alexei Puninski of Auburn. Puninski finished in 45.51.

The victory by Subirats, who also swam a leg on Arizona's runner-up 200 medley relay team earlier Friday night, helped the Wildcats extend their lead over nine-time NCAA titlist Texas.

Arizona came into the second night of finals with a 137-116 lead over the Longhorns. Heading into Saturday's final day of the meet, the Wildcats are in front with 376 points. Texas is second with second with 285, followed by Stanford (231), California (222.5) and five-time defending champion Auburn (213).

"We're in a great place, but it's not over until it's over," said Subirats, who later finished second in the 100 backstroke, an event he won last year. "We're just happy to be in first place right now, and we'll try to stay there as long as we can and keep racing hard."

Arizona finished the night with a new meet record in the 800 freestyle relay. The team of Jean Basson, Darian Townsend, Joel Greenshields and Nicolas Nilo won in 6:12.85. Three of those four (except for Greenshields) set the previous meet record of 6:14.14 last year.

In the 100 butterfly finals, Subirats trailed Puninski at the 25-, 50- and 75-yard turns. But he caught up with the Auburn star coming out of the last turn, surged ahead with about 20 yards to go, then hung on all the way to the wall.

"I wanted to go out hard, and it wasn't happening for me," Subirats said. "I saw myself behind at the 75, and I tried to go back hard."

Ben Hesen of Indiana denied Subirats a second consecutive backstroke crown. Hesen led from the outset on the way to a 44.72, the second-fastest mark ever. Subirats had a 45.40 for second. Michigan senior Alex Vanderkaay led from start to finish in successfully defending his 400 individual medley championship. Vanderkaay came into the finals seeded just third, 1 1/2 seconds behind top-seeded Florida sophomore Clark Burckle.

But Vanderkaay took a huge lead in the opening 100-yard butterfly leg, maintained it through the backstroke and breaststroke legs, then fended off Georgia senior Sebastien Rouault in the freestyle leg. Vanderkaay's winning time was 3:41.58.

Rouault, who won the 500 free on Thursday, was second in 3:42.25. "I knew I had to go out fast," Vanderkaay said. "That was the only way to do it. I was hurting on that last 100, but I was able to do it."

Miami of Florida sophomore Reuben Ross set a meet-record score of 466.80 points to win the 3-meter diving. Reuben broke the old record of 460.95 set by Georgia's Chris Colwill, the two-time defending champion. Colwill, who won the 1-meter title on Friday, settled for second on the 3-meter board with 460.55.

"I wasn't really thinking about (a record)," Ross said. "I was just focusing on what I had to do on my dives. At the end, I realized I got it, so that was an extra bonus."

One night after swimming the two fastest 50-yard freestyles, Auburn junior Cesar Cielo was at it again on Friday. Cielo, anchoring Auburn's top-seeded 200 medley relay, took off four-hundredths of a second behind Arizona's Jordan Smith, but finished well in front of him.

Cielo, who will swim for Brazil in the Olympics, had a split of 18.19 seconds to help give the Tigers a meet-record winning time of 1:23.24.

Arizona was second, nearly a full second behind, in 1:24.08. Cielo, along with Scott Goodrich, David Maras and Alexei Puninski, teamed up to win last year in 1:23.37, which stood as the meet record until Friday.

Texas sophomore Dave Walters came from the fifth-seeded position to win the 200 free. His 1:32.56 was just fast enough to beat out Arizona's Darian Townsend, who was second in 1:32.85. Townsend won the 200 individual medley on Thursday.

Stanford junior Paul Kornfeld won the 100 breaststroke in 52.03.