COLUMBUS, Ohio - University of California San Diego swimmers Tenny Chong and Angie Phetbenjakul completed their involvement Saturday at the 2017 USA Swimming Winter National Championships. The high-level meet began on Wednesday evening, Nov. 29, at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on the campus of Ohio State University.
Chong, a true freshman out of Arcadia (Arcadia HS), led things off in preliminaries of the 50-yard freestyle on Thursday morning, Nov. 30. Having entered with a personal-record seed time of 20.22, he sprinted a season-best 20.66 out of the seventh lane in the sixth and final heat, to tie for 29th out of 43. The mark was .03 seconds short of that of the second and final alternate position, and netted Chong his first NCAA consideration qualifier, getting under the 20.81 standard. Sprint great and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian was the morning's fastest at 19.42, before winning the event in 18.77 at night, lowering his own championship record.
On Friday morning, Chong timed a season-best 49.87 in prelims of the 100 backstroke for 23rd out of 43 competitors and a spot in the C final. In that race at night, he placed fifth from the seventh lane, good for 21st overall. His second season-best mark of the day was 49.75, putting him sixth in program history. Chong swam the first 50 yards in 23.90 and was tied for second at that stage. Olympians Ryan Murphy (45.03) and Jacob Pebley (46.06) were 1-2 in the championship final, Murphy as the 2016 gold medalist and world record-holder in the 100-meter back.
Chong also went 49.13 for 31st of 44 in prelims that same morning, in his college debut in the 100 butterfly. He enters the UC San Diego record book in ninth in that event. Phetbenjakul began her meet, in 39th out of 47 in the 100 breaststroke in a season-best 1:03.88. Both were NCAA B-cut times.
Lastly on Saturday morning, Chong swam his way into a second C final, this time in the 100 free with a season-best mark of 45.80. He wound up as the second alternate going into the evening, in the 200 back (28th, 1:52.36).
Chong saved his best for last, blazing to 44.67 to win that C final from the outside in lane one, by .08 seconds over his closest challenger, for 17th overall. He led from the start, hitting the 50-yard mark first in 21.31. Falling .08 seconds short of his personal-best seed time, Chong moved into the top 10 on the school chart in the event, all the way up to No. 3. Adrian completed his sweep of the sprints, taking the A final while again lowering his championship record, down to 41.22.
Phetbenjakul (Ladera Ranch/Vista Murrieta HS) wrapped up her participation in prelims of the 200 breast in a season-best 2:23.16 for 38th.
Chong, Phetbenjakul and all of their Triton teammates are now done with competition for the 2017 calendar year. The UC San Diego men and women will return to action right after the new year, on Tuesday, Jan. 2. It will be Senior Day at Canyonview Aquatic Center in La Jolla, with senior recognitions slated to start around 1:40 p.m., and the meet itself at 2 p.m. or thereabouts. The Tritons' Division I opponents will be the men and women of Incarnate Word, and the San José State women. Parking and admission on the UC San Diego campus are both free that day.