March 27, 2002
ATLANTA – Coming off its first runner-up finish at the ACC Championships, the 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech men’s swimming and diving team sends a program-best four members to the 2002 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which open Thursday at the University of Georgia’s Gabrielsen Natatorium.
Leading the way for the Jackets is junior Shilo Ayalon, who will compete in the 500 and 1650-yard freestyle, as well as the 400 IM. He posted an automatic qualifying time in the 1650 (15:01.14) at the 2002 ACC Championships, where he earned all-conference honors in three events. He garnered All-America honors with an 11th-place finish in that event a year ago.
A second All-America honoree from 2001, junior Tomonori Tsuji, will also compete in the championships. Tsuji, who was 13th in the 200 breast last season, will compete in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke this time around. He set a school record of 54.85 in the 100 breast earlier this season.
Senior David Laitala and junior James Salazar will make their NCAA Championships debut this season. Laitala, the ACC champion in the 100 fly, will swim that event, as well as the 200 IM. He established school records in both events this season.
Salazar will compete in the 200 back, an event in which he placed third at the ACC Championships, earning all-conference honors and eclipsing the Tech record. Salazar lowered his mark to 1:45.53 at the Auburn Last Chance Meet.
With four swimmers now in the fold, the Jackets have an opportunity to compete in a relay, likely the 400 medley. Earlier this season, the team of Salazar, Tsuji, Laitala and junior Josh Hersko posted a NCAA “B” cut and school record of 3:16.44.
The meet opens Thursday and concludes Saturday. Preliminaries begin each day at 11 a.m., followed by finals at 7 p.m. each evening.
The Jackets, who scored their first NCAA points a year ago, will hope to improve on a 29th-place finish.
Live results from the meet are available at www.georgiadogs.com.