MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – After a surprising upset loss in the 50-yard freestyle last year, California’s Nathan Adrian rebounded in a big way.
Adrian broke his own American short-course record with a time of 18.66 seconds Thursday night in the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, while defending champion Texas opened a three-point lead over Stanford after the first day.
Adrian broke his previous mark of 18.71. He also teamed with Guy Barnea, Damir Dugonjic and Tom Shields to win the 400 medley relay.
“I’m swimming for a lot more than individual accomplishments at the NCAA level,” Adrian said. “We’ve all got to be a bit faster this time of year so we can bring home that team title.”
California had the largest and loudest contingent of fans for the first day of the championships. Stationed on both sides of the pool, Golden Bears fans wearing black and gold T-shirts traded chants and cheers while their team totaled 134 points, good enough for third place.
The 400 medley relay win was the perfect way to cap the night.
“Not every race is real fun, but that one was,” Barnea said. “I like where we’re at. If we keep swimming like this, we got a shot.”
Stanford’s Alex Covilee, Austin Staab, Jakob Allen and Aaron Wayne opened the championships by setting an American record in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:15.2. Stanford broke its own record of 1:15.84, set earlier in the day during the prelims.
“It served as a pretty good jumping off point for the rest of the evening,” Covilee said. “I thought we had a lot of energy after that. You could tell by the way everyone was swimming that it gave us a spark.”
Staab added a title in the 200 medley two races later.
Defending champion Texas did not have any winners, but did enough to total 139 points and put itself in position to repeat. California finished second last year and has not won a team title since 1980.
Purdue’s David Boudia won his second 1-meter diving title and fifth championship overall. Boudia has a chance to add to his total in the 3-meter and platform events.
The junior almost did not qualify for the finals after finishing sixth in the prelims with 353.10 points. He scored 461.00 in the finals, almost 36 points better than runner-up Grant Nel of Texas A&M.
“I struggled early in the day, but I came out at night and just hit it,” Boudia said. “I just need to keep drilling those dives and enjoying this moment.”
Virginia’s Matt McLean took home the 500 freestyle title with a time of 4:10.15. The senior came on strong at the end of the race to win by more than 3 seconds over Stanford’s Bobby Bollier.
“At first I was just kind of feeling things out,” McLean said. “Toward the end I got comfortable and knew I had it. I really turned it on from there.”
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