GENEVA, Ohio - Naomi Thomas broke the school record in the 100-yard butterfly and helped the UC San Diego women’s team move up to fifth in the standings on Thursday at the 2014 NCAA Division II Swimming & Diving Championships.
The four-day meet began Wednesday morning and runs through Saturday, co-hosted by Edinboro and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission at the SPIRE Institute Natatorium. Geneva is located about 45 miles east of Cleveland.
The Triton men have 135 points through 10 of 21 events, and are now in fifth, with nine-time defending champion Drury well in front with 276.5 points. Florida Southern (165) and Queens (143) are just ahead. For the second year in a row, the second day of the NCAA meet was big for the UCSD women, who moved from 12th up into fifth (132). The Tritons are just 5.5 points back of West Chester (137.5) in fourth. Drury (246) jumped over day-one leader Wayne State (216) to top those standings as well. UCSD went from 10th to third on the second day of the 2013 meet.
UCSD had seven individuals and all four relays advance into evening finals. The Tritons garnered 16 more All-America nods to give them 26 over the first two days.
Thomas became just the second Triton woman ever to get under 55 seconds in the 100 fly, timing 54.69 to place fifth in finals. Junior teammate Jaclyn Amog was eighth (55.70) as both swimmers snuck into the championship final in seventh (55.57) and eighth (55.60), respectively. Thomas shaved nearly a minute off her season best over the course of the day, from 55.66 to 54.69. The sophomore's previous career best was 55.08 from 2013 prelims. Olivia Fountain had held the school mark at 54.95 since 2012.
“When I’m rested, I know I’ll have easy speed in the first 50 (yards), and I felt good going out tonight,” said Thomas. “I knew that I could bring it home faster than I did this morning (29.29 to 29.91). When I saw that 54 up there (54.69), I was so happy. I’ve been stuck on 55 since my sophomore year of high school. It feels so good.”
Senior co-captain Anji Shakya fell short of defending her national championship in the 200 freestyle, finishing fifth at night (1:49.25) after turning in the third-fastest preliminary time of a season-best 1:49.22 while winning her heat.
Freshman Zach Yong was a first-time All-American with a sixth-place finish (3:55.87) in the championship final of the 400 individual medley as the school record-holder (3:53.65) in the event. He went 3:54.21 in prelims.
In the relays, the women’s 200 free foursome put together the first top-three performance of the meet for UCSD, as junior Sierra Robbins, sophomore Colleen Daley, freshman Austine Lee and Shakya went 1:33.50 for the second-fastest time in the morning while winning the second heat, and then 1:32.50 in the final. Robbins’ leadoff leg of 23.37 at night was a personal best.
The men’s 200 free relay of sophomore Cole Heale, seniors Nicholas Korth and Reid McCallum, and junior anchor Jack Galvan, timed 1:20.36 for fourth in the championship final. Ironically, both the men’s and women’s 200 free relays for the Tritons fell .34 seconds shy of school standards.
Shakya concluded a busy first day of the meet for her by providing the leadoff backstroke leg of the seventh-place 400 medley relay (3:46.28). Jaimie Bryan, Thomas and Daley followed her in. Shakya’s personal-record 56.48 split in prelims helped UCSD edge LIU Post to the wall in its heat, which proved critical as the Tritons managed to bounce the Pioneers (3:45.99) out of the championship final as the No. 8 seed in a season-best 3:45.72.
Shakya, out of Davis, is now a 16-time All-American.
The men’s 400 medley relay of freshman Chandler Pourvahidi, Korth, junior Sean Malley and Galvan placed 11th after the consolation final (3:17.48). Pourvahidi’s leadoff leg of 50.38 was his best for 100 yards of backstroke in his young career.
Natalie Tang produced a pair of personal records and barely missed the championship final in the 200 free behind Shakya. She had to settle for ninth after prelims (1:50.60) and subsequently the consolation final, where she wound up 11th (1:50.48). Fellow freshman Bryan placed 15th in the 400 IM (4:25.75), advancing to the consolation final in 13th with a prelim time of (4:26.95). Sophomore Paul Li was 12th on the men’s side (3:56.38; 3:56.17 prelims).
Senior diver Luke Calkins began his competition on the one-meter springboard, placing 11th among 18 preliminary qualifiers with a score of 446.60. He will await the three-meter event on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT.
Other Triton individual competitors Thursday were sophomore Kyle Nadler in the 400 IM (20th, 4:00.89), Malley in the 100 fly (21st, 49.53), and freshman Catherine Woo (T23rd, 1:53.18), senior Erika Rodman (32nd, 1:55.86) and Li (32nd, 1:39.73) in the 200 free. Malley was fourth after 50 yards in his prelim race before rallying to win his heat in a season-best time, but was unable to gain a second swim.
“With both of our teams in the top five at the midway point of the championships, there’s obviously a lot to be pleased about,” said UCSD co-head coach Matt Macedo. This is an incredibly fast meet, and the fact that we’ve got athletes who are right there in the thick of things is exciting.
“We’ve now reached the championship final in five of the six relay events, and are getting consistent performances up and down the roster. If we can continue that trend over the next two days, and throw in a few huge swims and dives, like the school record we saw from Naomi Thomas in the 100 butterfly, we’ll find ourselves in a good spot when this is over. I’m very optimistic based on what I’ve seen so far.”
The third day of the 2014 NCAA Championships on Friday starts up at 7:30 a.m. PT with the 500 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 fly and 800 free relay. Shakya and Li are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the women’s and men’s 500. Korth will be in the water as the third seed in the 100 breast, and Thomas is back seeded fifth in the 200 fly. Evening finals start at 3 p.m. PT. All sessions this week can be watched online, free of charge, at NCAA.com, with live results here.
Triton Notes: UCSD has now set four school records over the first two days of the meet, with both 200 medley relays and Sean Malley’s 50 backstroke split on Wednesday, prior to Naomi Thomas in the 100 fly on Thursday ... The men’s 200 medley relay actually matched the school record it had broken in morning prelims Wednesday, in the championship final at night.