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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Both the 200 free and 400 medley relay teams swam their way into the finals as the Virginia men’s swimming team began competition Friday at the 2010 NCAA Championships. Preliminaries were held in the 200 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 1-meter diving and 400 medley relay. The meet, which runs through Sunday, is being held at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on Ohio State’s campus.

Live coverage of the 2010 Men’s NCAA Championships can be found by clicking here. Finals begin at 7 p.m. this evening.

The Cavaliers started strong with a berth in the finals of the 200 free relay after Scot Robison, Peter Geissinger, Eric Olesen and John Azar finished eighth in the event in a school-record time of 1:18.05. The previous UVa record of 1:18.21 was set in 2009 by Robison, Lee Robertson, Geissinger and Olesen.

In the last race of the morning, the 400 medley relay, Virginia touched in 3:08.85 to finish eighth overall. Olesen, Tom Casey, Geissinger and Robison made up the UVa quartet and bested its seed time by more than two seconds.

“We began the meet with an absolutely tremendous swim by our 200 free relay,” Virginia head coach Mark Bernardino said. “It was the first time in school history that relay has ever made the top-8. And then with the 400 medley relay; those are two incredibly important performances by our team. I am thrilled to death we were able to do so well there.”

Junior Matt McLean finished 16th overall in the prelim session of the 500 free and will return tonight to swim in the consolation finals. He clocked a time of 4:19.61.

“Eight and 16 might be our lucky number today but those are the two luckiest numbers you can have in swimming,” Bernardino said. “Matt can only move up with a better swim tonight. He is in a great position and hopefully he can pick up some extra points for our team battle. I know he is a better swimmer than he showed this morning and he has a great opportunity to show that tonight.”

Azar, who is swimming in his final meet as a Cavalier, clocked a lifetime best in the 200 IM. The El Paso, Texas, native finished with a time of 1:45.05 to place 19th overall. That time was also the fastest for UVa in the event this season.

“A tremendous swim for John Azar, his lifetime best,” Bernardino said. “I think that helped pick up some momentum going into the relay.”

Swimming with McLean in the 500 free were classmates Taylor Smith and John Snawerdt. Smith placed 20th overall (4:20.00) while Snawerdt finished 28th (4:21.40).

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