March 7, 2008's the size of the fight in the dog. - Mark Twain.

Three qualifiers - that's what Carthage will take to the deepest NCAA Division III Championships in history. Stephen Schranck, Kyle Drake and Byrce Davis all qualified on their own merits. The relays came up just short - 400 Medley Relay by 1.29 seconds, 200 Medley Relay by 1.23, and 200 Free Relay by 0.21 seconds. Bryan Pelka, who qualified for the mile in 16:15 as a freshman and 16:10 as a sophomore, went 16:04 this year - and missed qualifying by 1.28 seconds - that's 0.07 seconds per 100. Add all of those up and just 4.01 seconds separated us from qualifying eight guys instead of three.

If it wasn't so painfully true, the meet would be unbelievably fast. Except for the 200 backstroke, every single event posted the fastest qualifying time in NCAA history. How fast? Three years ago, just three guys went under 21 seconds in the 50 free. This year over thirty did and those slower than 20.89 didn't even qualify. The 200 breaststroke? We thought Stephen was in at 2:05.51 and he was (Phew!) but only by 0.43 seconds.

Because it traditionally takes a full taper for most guys to qualify, the NCAA Championship typically only produces about 60% improvement on seed times. With such incredibly fast times needed just to qualify, I'm going to predict that fewer than half of the swimmers entered improve their times.

So three qualifiers it is. That didn't stop us from beating out teams with relays last year. In fact, if the meet goes as I predict, we're going to be just fine. Two of our three guys haven't had a full rest yet, and the third - well, he's a sprinter and so damn competitive you don't need to worry - you know he'll be there. Like Twain said.

We'll find out in 312 hours.



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