Ute Swimmers Break Three School Records on Friday
ATLANTA- It was a day for the records books as the Utah men's swimming team broke two school records in one race during the 400-medley relay to close out the third day of competition. Individually, Andrei Ungur had himself a day breaking the 100-backstroke record twice on Friday.
"The relay lowered the school record by one and half seconds, which was really impressive considering the school record was only three weeks old. We were a few spots away from scoring, which is unfortunate, but I couldn't be more proud of these guys," interim head coach Jonas Persson said. "We're beating pretty good teams in these relays, which is really a great confidence boost for our team and looking good for our future."
In the night cap event of the championships, the 400-medley relay quartet of Ungur, Jaek Horner, Ben Waterman and Finn O'Haimhirgin stepped up ready to compete in heat one against Purdue, Florida State, Penn State, Texas A&M and North Carolina. Ungur led off the relay and got the Utes out to a fast start swimming the 100-back in 45.05 to break the school record he just set earlier that morning. Horner followed swimming the breast portion of the relay in 52.08 and Waterman completed the fly in 46.19 to pass the lead over to anchor O'Haimhirgin in the freestyle. Texas A&M closed in and just barely touched before O'Haimhirgin who finished his leg in 42.52 to break the school record in a time of 3:05.84 and capture the top-20 overall finish (20th), 10 spots up from where they came in seeded.
It was a full second and half improvement from the previous record which the same squad set back at the Pac-12 conference championships earlier this month.
"We haven't been this successful in our relays in a long time," Persson said. "It shows that our guys are buying into the culture, buying into a winning mentality and training really hard. Three swims and four school records, wow!"
Ungur started the day for the Utes with a great showing in the 100-backstroke breaking the school record and touching third in his heat to bring home 20th overall. A 14 spot improvement from last year.
Ungur finished with a time of 45.46 and topped the previous best which was held by his older brother, Paul Ungur (45.52), and was set back in 2018 at the Pac-12 Championships.
In the prelims, Ungur swam the second fastest 50 back split of the season in 21.64 and followed with a 23.82 in the second split to give him the school record and shave 0.41 seconds off his entry time of 45.87.
"Andrei had a fantastic day. Lowering his personal-best by almost half a second in the morning and then another half second in the afternoon in the relay, breaking the 100-back school record twice," said Persson. "Unfortunately, he was a few spots behind scoring in the 100-back, which would've scored any other year."
Over the course of three days at the NCAA Championships, the Utes have set four new school records with first taking place on Wednesday when the 200-medley relay team of Ungur, Horner, Cooper deRyk and O'Haimhirgin downed the previous record they set at the Pac-12 Championships with a time of 1:23.62.
In the diving well, Tony Chen's career at Utah came to an end Friday afternoon on the 3-meter springboard. Chen posted a total of 306.10 to finish in 42nd while freshman Ben Smyth made his NCAA Championship debut totaling 248.65 and capturing 47th.
"I want to highlight what a great career Tony had here and how great of a person and teammate he is. It obviously didn't end the way we had hoped today but I am so proud of Tony and I know that he really wanted to perform well for the team today," head diving coach Richard Marschner said. "He shouldered the weight of being great and being the #1 guy on the team for so long and he never backed down from that. This team and university mean so much to Tony and he'll forever be a part of this program."
Chen, a specialist in the springboard events, owns the third best score on the 3-meter (426.35) and the fourth best score of on the 1-meter (367.10) of all time at Utah. Chen is a three-time qualifier for the NCAA Championships and was tabbed a 2020 CSCAA All-American.
Tomorrow is the final day of the NCAA Championships and Ungur will be back in the pool to kick it off for the Utes in the 100 freestyle prelims. Smyth and Jenner Pennock will compete on the tower, the event both earned an NCAA bid on at the Zone E Championships.