2017 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championships: With coach Bob Bowman, future looks bright for ASU freshman Cameron Craig
FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- ASU freshman Cameron Craig lined up for the 200 IM against some of the best in the Pac-12 Conference -- best in the world, even. Flanked by last year's 200 IM champion and the eventual winner, Cal's Andrew Seliskar, and Olympic gold-medalist Ryan Murphy, Craig clocked in at 1:42.75, good for fourth place.
Despite falling short of the podium in a stacked event, Craig's first two days of these Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championships suggest a successful career lies ahead for the Michigan native.
ASU coach Bob Bowman has said that Craig has the potential to be the best swimmer in Sun Devil History, and reassessed that assertion in light of Craig's performance here on Thursday. Craig posed a real challenge to the likes of Murphy and Seliskar in the 200 IM.
"I think it's obvious that Cameron has some physical potential. He knows how to race," Bowman said. "So we're putting all the pieces together. There's a lot of things he learned tonight. He got a good education in that final heat about what it's going to take to compete on this level."
"I was happy with the results of dropping three seconds," Craig said. "I just keep practicing my turns and my underwaters and hopefully I'll just drop more time in three weeks at [NCAA's]."
While Craig and a touted group of ASU recruits are on the outskirts of a stacked Pac-12 talent pool, the Devils have been quietly shattering school and personal records and meeting NCAA standards.
Craig and teammates Patrick Park, Andrew Porter and Richard Bohus took third in the 200-yard free relay. Their 1:17.20 time was good for an NCAA A standard and set a school record.
Craig's 1:42.75 time in the 200 IM was a personal best and just .03 off the school record, and his 1:32.16 leg in the 800 relay on day one broke a 26-year-old school record, good for fourth-best nationally.
He has the pure talent and potential, said Bowman. The next step is to sand the edges.
"He's just really improved his training in general," Bowman said. "He's gone from not doing a whole lot of training to doing a whole lot of training, so it took some time to adjust to that. He's improved his skills quite a bit on turns and breakouts, and there's still a lot of things to do. But he's really made a lot of progress in the technical areas."
For Craig, the process is founded on his faith in Bowman.
"It's an honor learning from one of the best coaches, I think, in the country," Craig said. "And he just helps me every day at practice and pushes me to a new level every day."
When reminded of his high praise for the freshman, Bowman made his point clear: The potential for greatness is there.
"He had a great relay leadoff last night, put him in the top four guys in the country, so he knows he's one of those types of swimmers," Bowman said. "So what we have to do is just get better every day and find ways to improve and all those other things will take care of itself."