Top swimmers meet for Pac-12 Championships
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - With four Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 10 in the Feb. 20 College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, the 2013 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships are shaping up to be competitive as ever. With several Olympians and national team members in the field, the meet will continue to showcase some of the top swimmers in the world.
USC went 7-1 in dual meets this season, notching impressive wins over Arizona and Stanford. Olympic bronze medalist and European Short Course Championships gold medalist Vladimir Morozov has played a pivotal role in USC’s success. At the SMU Classic in January, the junior posted the fastest times in the nation in the 50 and 100 freestyle en route to being named the Pac-12 Men’s Swimmer of the Month. As a sophomore in 2012, he earned four All-America honors and won Pac-12 individual titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle. All-Americans and Olympians Christian Quintero and Dimitri Colupaev both have had success at the Pac-12 and NCAA championships. Colupaev, a junior, is the reigning Pac-12 champion in the 200 freestyle, while Quintero, a sophomore, was the Conference’s runner-up in the 1,650 freestyle and the Conference and national runner-up in the 500 freestyle. He holds the league’s top time in the 1,650 freestyle this season.
Before California can begin its second NCAA championship defense in as many seasons, it will attempt to win its first Conference title in more than three decades. The Bears are led by senior Tom Shields, last year’s Pac-12 Men’s Swimmer of the Year. Shields has collected five individual Conference titles and four NCAA crowns in three years at Cal and is the current Pac-12 record holder in the 200 Butterfly (1:41.20). The Bears will also rely on strong performances from sophomore Will Hamilton and junior Marcin Tarczynski, each of whom won NCAA individual titles in 2012. Hamilton won the 200 butterfly, while Tarczynski took the 200 IM title in a school-record 1:41.97.
On the heels of its 31st consecutive Conference Championship, Stanford is squarely in the Pac-12 title hunt once again. Seniors Aaron Wayne and Matt Thompson anchor a squad that went 4-2 in dual meets and upset top-ranked Arizona late in January. Wayne is a member of Stanford’s 400 medley relay and 200 free relay teams that look to defend their 2012 Pac-12 titles. Sophomore standout David Nolan, the 2012 Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year, garnered All-America consideration in seven disciplines as a freshman last season after winning three individual Conference championships. He went on to record a pair of second-place finishes in the 100 and 200 backstroke at the NCAA Championships.
Arizona is led by sophomore Kevin Cordes, a four-time All-American and the reigning NCAA champion in the 100 breaststroke. Cordes opened the 2012-13 campaign by setting a pair of American records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the AT&T Winter Nationals in November and followed it up with a pair of medals — a gold and a bronze — at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships in December. Senior Carl Mickelson, a four-time All-American, claimed Pac-12 titles in the 100 and 200 breaststroke in 2012. Junior Giles Smith, a five-time All-American, posted a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships in 2012. Cordes and Smith were also members of Arizona’s 2012 national champion 200 medley relay team.
Junior Hayden Thomas, who holds top times in the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 freestyle, is Arizona State’s top distance swimmer, and junior Herbie Behm has been solid in freestyle sprints. Versatile juniors Alex Coci and Ryan Dignan have also been consistent for the Sun Devils this season. Sophomore Nick Soedel, Utah’s record holder in the 100 freestyle (43.84), swept the sprint freestyle events in four of seven dual meets this season.
Senior Tim Freeman, juniors Lucas Norman and Randy Aakhus and sophomore Wade Allen have been steady contributors for UC Santa Barbara this season. Freeman, who set a new school record in the 100 breaststroke at the AT&T Winter Nationals, owns the Conference’s eighth-fastest time in the 200 breaststroke this season. In 2012, Aakhus posted the second-fastest time in UCSB history the 400 individual medley.
Junior Konrad Antoniuk leads a Cal Poly team that has gotten a boost from its underclassmen this season. Sophomore Mackey Hopen broke the school record in the 100 breaststroke (54.61) at the Arena invitational in November, while freshman Ian Sinclair posted a top-10 finish in the 1,650 freestyle at the AT&T Winter Nationals in December.