Banker, Bernier Carry Huskies Into Fifth

March 6, 2009

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LONG BEACH, Calif. - Backed by their senior leaders and their relays for the third consecutive day, the Washington men's swimming moved up to fifth in the standings at the Men's Pac-10 Swimming Championships at the Belmont Plaza Pool as they eye their first fourth-place finish in school history.

UW made it a perfect four-for-four on relay school records, finishing the night by breaking the 400 medley relay record set in 2004. Jon Banker, Russ Mahan, Andre Blyth and Ben Aaberg finished fourth in a time of 3:11.74, nearly two seconds under the previous record.

Banker and Bernier, meanwhile, continued to re-write the Husky record books as each broke their second records of the meet on Friday.

Banker, in fact, took another record away from Bernier, this time in the 100 back after he broke Bernier's 200 IM school record on Wednesday. On Friday, Banker qualified fourth in the prelims in 47.03, breaking Bernier's record by .79. He went on to finish sixth in the finals in 46.42. Banker then lowered the record by another .19 as the leadoff leg in the 400 medley relay with a 46.84 split.

Bernier also set a personal best in the 100 back, beating his previous school-record time by .31 with a 47.51. He also qualified for the A final and finished eighth overall in 47.62.

Bernier took back the spotlight in the 100 fly, finishing fifth in a time of 46.43 to break his own school record that he set in the prelims. He qualified for the A final with the fifth-fastest time in the prelims of 43.63 to dip under the previous record of 47.25 held by Justin Adrian since 2003. Andre Blyth just missed breaking Adrian's record in the prelims as well but settled for the third-fastest time in school history, qualifying 10th in 47.28. He went on to finish fourth in the B final to place 12th overall.

Erez Fern also had a career-best time in the 100 fly prelims and moved up to No. 7 all time by qualifying 15th in 48.21. He swam just .01 slower in the finals to place 15th overall.

In the 400 IM, Marshel Renz, who transferred to UW from Auburn just a couple months ago, etched his name in the Husky record books, qualifying 10th overall in 3:52.55, the fourth-fastest time in UW history. Renz went on to finish third in the B final and 11th overall, with a finals time of 3:52.74.

The highlight for the men in the 200 free was Ben Aaberg finishing 20th in a career-best 1:37.84, the fourth-fastest time in UW history. In the prelims of the event, David Bai swam a personal-best 1:37.95 to move up to No 5 all time while Clinton Stipek, who also just recently joined UW over the winter break, had a personal best time of 1:38.21, the seventh-fastest time in UW history.

Scott Spansail was the highest UW finisher in the 200 free, placing 14th in 1:37.04.

In the 100 breast, Russ Mahan swam a personal best in the B final to finish ninth overall. His time of 53.59 is the second-fastest time in UW history. Teammate Yonatan Cohen, who swam what was then the No. 2 time in the prelims of 53.69, went just over that time in the finals (53.93) to place 12th.

The Huskies have now broken nine school records in three days at the championships, with four relays falling, along with Scott Spansail breaking the 500 free record, Banker topping the 200 IM and 100 back records and Bernier breaking his own 200 free record along with the 100 fly.

As a team, UW moved up one spot to No. 5 and will look to finish fifth in the Pac-10 meet for the first time since 1995-96. UW has never finished fourth in the meet.

'We're fighting the good fight,' Washington head coach Whitney Hite said. 'We're out-swimming USC for the week which is all we can ask and we were even on the day with them. We're also at about 90 percent best times which is outstanding since you usually expect about 60 percent. I couldn't be more proud of our guys. Jon Banker was awesome today and Evan's double was really tough to do. Our senior leadership was outstanding again today.'

The Pac-10 Championships wrap up Saturday evening, with finals taking place at 6 p.m. The Washington women compete in the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, March 19-21, while the men's NCAA Championships take place March 26-28, also on the campus of Texas A&M.

Team Standings
1. Stanford, 607.5
2. California, 572
3. Arizona, 421
4. USC, 269
5. Washington, 216
6. Arizona State, 171.5

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