February 22, 2009

Heading into the final night - we've tried to strike a celebratory tone. Every night we've been coming back to the hotel absolutely elated. Then, we'd come back to the hotel, check the internet and see that our top-eight or top-ten relays were now top-ten or top-twelve. Tonight, I encouraged the guys to go in - enjoy the experience - and not worry about what we couldn't control. After all - we were heading in with a 152 point lead and conference championships don't grow on trees - so we'd better enjoy them.

1650 Freestyle - The mile was a mix of good and disappointing. The disappointing part was seeing Bryan with his second sub-par swim of the meet. He's been tearing it up all weekend, but went out fast - too fast - and it burned him in at the end. For most swimmers 16:11 is pretty solid - for us it was disappointing. By way of comparison - Alex dropped 25 seconds from his lifetime best - to finish second. The points continued to rain down as we had five guys seeded in the big heat. Chris was just a second off of his best time - which, given the strength of the meet, dropped him a spot to 8th. Adam and Eric both dropped solid time - giving us four of the top six.

200 Backstroke - A year ago we nearly filled the 200 back final. We didn't quite fill it, but we were faster across the board this morning. You could see the signs of wear though - each of our four guys added time after posting lifetime bests in prelims. The upshot - they were in finals - we didn't have a single guy in consols. Kyle - 1:56.7, Bob 1:57.0, Varner 2:00.7 and Pat 2:00.9.

100 Freestyle - After the mile and 200 back, I was beginning to wonder if we were losing our edge. The 100 free told me I was wrong as we replicated our success of the 50-free (who knew we were a sprint team) going 1-2-3-4, *not to mention 8.) Best of all, every single one of those top four went faster than they had this morning. Isaac added a little, but admittedly he was behind some big boys. Each one of the guys swam a great race and collectively they put up nearly eighty points. The only bummer of the event was Bob Pellican. His legs were pretty much toast by the time the 100 came around this morning. Speaking of the morning, lots more great times - Alex B and Varner 49.9, Buck 49.5, Jones 49.4, Ortmann 48.8, and Kyle 47.7. Makes me excited that we score 'A' and 'B' relays.
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200 Butterfly - Yesterday Doug missed out on a school record by 0.01 - today he got a different one by the same margin. Tonight he was out in a blistering 52.83 and ow - 31.39 bringing it home. He did push Kozak a little faster than he probably wanted to go out in and it hurt him as well. Bryan recovered from his mile well enough to hold onto 4th. Tommy Stowe also paced the first 100 a little hot - 55.81 - and well, you can see the 36.15 final split. OUCH. In the morning Clinton popped the best 2-fly of the meet - he lopped about 7 seconds off of his previous best. He would have qualfied 7th with that time, not bad for one of our non-scorers.

400 Freestyle Relay - Final event - and we decided to get everyone involved. How to do that with 26 guys? Well, add Patti Blatter and Lauren Zimmerman on our 'G' relay - that's 'G' as in 'Greatest of All-Time'. We also put up an 'F' relay - which stood for Freshmen (which impressively went under 3:20 and was highlighted by Ryan's 48.04); 'E' which stood for, well, it was loaded with V's - Varner, VanHuis, VanHuis and Alfes ('A' is kind of an upside down V). The 'D' for Distance (Pelka, Glover, Ross and Steenrod), 'C' which was full of Cophmores. They were actually reqlly quick - though Bob's 46.80 was a little TOO quick.

Now for the scoring relays - we go in with two goals - remain undefeated in relays and put up a fast time for all the country to see. The 'B' team handled their business - so well in fact that their 3:08.2 was enough to win the 'A' heat as well. Doug led off with a 47.60 for a lifetime best, and that was as close as anyone would get. Then it was Kyle with a lifetime best split (46.6), Isaac (47.2) holding onto his legs for one more swim - and finally Stephen anchoring in a 46.8.

On the 'A' team I had a last-minute idea - switch Andy and Bryce. Bryce has always favored the anchor position, but after using relay pads last winter we put Bax (with team best relay splits) - and Bryce and his team-best leadoff splits. Something told me Bryce would be good on the end - so we made the change and he responded with his best swim of the weekend - a 46.15 - his best relay split. Bax responded with a BIG TIME lifetime best - nearly 7/10 under his previous best. Then Blake went a full second under last year's split. But here was the big one - Rip - working from the third spot - cranking out a school-record 44.74 split. We got the NCAA cut AND - best of all - we got our names on the impressive Wheaton record-board. In the back of my mind, I'd always kind of wanted to see our names up there and now we were.

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