Vendt Wins 1650y Free For Second Title Of NCAAs

March 30, 2002

Junior Erik Vendt won his second NCAA title of the meet, shattering a 14-year-old USC record in the process, finishing first in the 1650y free to lead USC to a fifth-place finish on the final night of the 2002 Men's NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Georgia's Gabrielsen Center on Saturday (March 30).

USC finished fifth with 272 points. Texas won the team title with 512 points, followed by Stanford (501), Auburn (365.5), Florida (277), USC (272) and Cal (271). The Trojans have finished no lower than sixth in each of the last six seasons.

Vendt, who won the 400y IM on Friday, won his third career NCAA title with a 14:37.48 in the 1650y free, solidly ahead of second-place John Cole of Harvard (14:39.71). Vendt broke former Trojan Mike O'Brien's record of 14:41.43 set in 1988.

Vendt, along with sophomore teammate Klete Keller, are among only 10 Trojans ever to have at least three career NCAA titles. Vendt won the mile as a freshman in 2000, when the event was competed in shortcourse meters.

Second in the 500y free on Thursday, Vendt finished with a meet-high 57 individual points. Keller finished sixth overall with 48 points.

Junior Jeff Lee came within 50 yards of earning his first NCAA title, but was overtaken by Alabama's Ioan Gherghel, who won the 200y fly in 1:42.68. Lee, who took second in the event, still crushed his own record in the 200y fly, swimming a 1:42.94. It was the second time of the day he broke his own record in the event. He first broke the record in prelims with a 1:44.34.

Keller, who won the 500y free on Thursday and was third in the 200y free on Friday, finished seventh in the 1650y free in 14:54.83. In six NCAA races, he was won three and finished no lower than seventh in the other three.

USC's 400y free relay unit of senior Rodrigo Castro, Lee, Keller and senior Tamas Kerekjarto, the same foursome that won the 800y free title on Friday, finished sixth in the 2:53.87, less than a second off of USC's school record of 2:53.15.

Senior Joel Everman, competing in his third career NCAAs, made his scoring debut in his final race. He finished 15th in the 1650y free (a timed final) in 15:13.55, good for two points on the NCAA scoring scale. Senior Mark Warkentin was 19th in the event in 15:16.17.

Castro, who finalled in the 200y free on Friday, finished seventh in the consolation finals of the 100y free (15th overall) in 43.90.

Other USC finishers from the morning included sophomore Trent Staley, 23rd in the 200y back (1:46.21), freshman Paul Fahey, 27th in the 200y breast (2:00.34), Kerekjarto, 20th in the 200y fly (1:46.13) and sophomore Mike Gausman, 28th in the 200y fly (1:47.60).

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