Huskies Smash Three Records on Pac-10 Opening Day
March 4, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Inspired by a best-ever Pac-10 finish last week by their Husky women counterparts, the Washington men's swim team got day one of the Pac-10 Men's Swimming Championships off on a record-setting start, breaking three school records in the only two races that were contested Wednesday night.
The 200 medley relay team of Jon Banker, Russ Mahan, Andre Blyth and Evan Bernier started the night off right, finishing fourth and breaking the old school record in the event, which was set in 2004, by exactly two seconds. The time was also just .15 shy of an NCAA automatic qualifying time and should get the Huskies into the NCAAs when B times are considered.
In the final race of the night, the 800 free relay team shattered the old school record, dropping nearly eight seconds under the old standard established earlier this year in the Husky Invitational. The same four swimmers who set that record - Bernier, Scott Spansail, David Bai and Ben Aaberg, placed fourth and earned an automatic NCAA qualifying time, the first men's relay in Whitney Hite's three years as head coach to earn a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Additionally, Bernier's leadoff 200 leg of the 800 free relay smashed his own school record as he set the tone with a 1:34.47 split, which was two seconds faster than his previous 200 free record.
With news today that six UW women will go to the women's NCAA Championships later this month, the Husky men will now add to that with seven swimmers headed to the biggest meet of the year.
'It was a really good night. To be honest, I don't know how it could have been any better,' Hite said. 'This was just a tremendous start for us. I'm proud of guys like Evan Bernier and Jon Banker who bought into the system and this is the result of three years for Jon and two years for Evan of really hard work.'
With no diving program, the men started the night 110 points behind the field after last week's men's diving championships in Federal Way, but Hite estimated the Huskies have chipped away roughly 40 points from that deficit. The men will try to finish fourth at Pac-10s for the first time in school history after the women finished fifth last week for the first time ever. The men did finish fifth once - in 1995-96 - but have finished sixth in 12th consecutive years since. They currently sit fourth after one day.
The Pac-10 Championships continue Thursday and run through Saturday with finals taking place each night at 6 p.m.
1. Arizona, 72
1. California, 72
3. Stanford, 68
4. Washington, 60
5. Arizona State, 54
6. USC, 28