March 25, 2006
ATLANTA – Just when it looked like Auburn was going to take control of the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Arizona burned up the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center on Friday night and took over the lead with 336.5 points, five ahead of the three-time defending national champion Tigers.
“We’ve just never had anything like this,” said Arizona head coach Frank Bucsh. “These guys, they really believe. They’re just going to keep fighting `til the end.”
The Wildcats turned in three national championship performances, one by its 200-yard medley relay team that set a new U.S. Open and NCAA Record with a time of 1:23.88. Arizona’s Lyndon Ferns and Albert Subirats turned in first- and second-place finishes with times of 45.89 and 46.02, respectively.
“I’m pretty excited, glad for my teammates,” said Subirats. “Three seniors, three great seniors and now a championship, and we broke the record so we feel really good.”
“Just to train with Albert (second place) every day, he is such a nice guy and a great swimmer,” said Ferns. “That’s the future of Arizona. We mean business. We’ve got nine guys. We want to win the championships and we showed it tonight.”
UA’s Burnett clocked a U.S. Open and NCAA Record time of 1:31.20 in the 200 freestyle to post the Wildcats third national title of the evening session.
“You know, I’ve always come to NCAAs and swam slower than I have in season, so it was really satisfying to come here and improve my time,” said Burnett.
Auburn’s Doug Van Wie, James Wike, Alexei Puninski and Matt Targett would not allow the Tigers to go quietly into the night as they posted a time of 1:25.08 to finish in second place in the 200 medley relay.
“Of course the goal is always to win, but hats off to Arizona,” said Targett. “They had a great swim. And we do our best.”
The Tigers’ Van Wie swam a time of 46.22 in the 100 backstroke to touch the wall in second place. Northwestern’s Matt Grevers touched the wall in 45.93 to win his second consecutive national championship in the 100 back.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done I guess,” said Grevers. “I’ve been going faster times, especially at the beginning of the meet, so I thought I would go a little faster, but that really doesn’t matter, because I got the win and that’s what I really wanted.”
Florida’s Ryan Lochte continued to impress the fans with another record-setting performance in the night’s first even, the 400 individual medley, posting a NCAA Record mark of 3:38.15. Lochte set American Records in the 200 IM and 100 back on Thursday night.
“It feels good, the 400 IM is probably the hardest race for this kind of meet and to come up on top feels pretty good,” said Lochte.
California’s Henrique Barbosa edged Indiana’s Kevin Swander in the 100 breaststroke to capture his first national title with a time of 52.52. Swander finished with a time of 52.54 to tally a runner-up finish.
Georgia’s Chris Colwill won his second national title in as many nights with a score of 460.95 on the three-meter springboard. Colwill won the one-meter board on Thursday night to sweep the springboards for the Bulldogs.