Stanford's Sam Perry wins 50-yard freestyle for first Pac-12 title
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Stanford moved to the top of the leaderboard on Day Two of the 2016 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championship, and sophomore Sam Perry helped the Cardinal get there.
After finishing with his best career time (19.48) in the 50-yard freestyle in last year’s championships, the New Zealand native bested that on Thursday night, finishing with a time of 19.30 and taking first place in the event.
It was Perry’s first win at a Pac-12 Championship.
“It means quite a bit,” Perry said after the race. “It’s a good little benchmark. I’ve wanted to win a Pac-12 title since I’ve been at Stanford, and it’s satisfying to do that.”
The day didn’t start great for Perry, who says he struggled in his prelims before finishing strong in the finals.
“This morning I had a not-so-great start, so I really want to get off the blocks well and break out with the pack, if not ahead, and I’m pretty sure I did that, from what I heard from my teammates.”
Being one of the shortest events, the 50-yard free doesn’t allow time for mistakes. Once in the water, it became all instinct for Perry.
“It’s all just a blur, it all becomes instinct. It just happens, and you finish and look at the time.”
And with such a competitive field, starting strong in the short race is key.
“There’s not a huge amount you can control in a 50 free,” Perry explained. “To see that you came up first in a field like that, where it’s all very even, it’s satisfying because it meant I swam a relatively mistake-free race.”
That race helped put Stanford 46 points ahead of USC for the team lead, and Perry likes the Cardinal’s chances.
“Sitting in first, I think, is actually a lot easier for us. We all know we’re swimming fast, and we all know we’re doing best times, so it’ll actually be hard to slow down at this point.”