Prelims: Day Two at Men's NCAAs
MINNEAPOLIS – Seniors Scot Robison and Matt McLean swam their way into the 200 freestyle final as the 2011 Men’s NCAA Championships continued Friday at the University Aquatic Center on the Minnesota campus. Preliminaries were held in the 200 medley relay, 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 3-meter diving.
In addition, junior David Karasek (200 freestyle) and sophomore Matt Houser (400 individual medley) earned spots in the consolation final, as did the 200 medley relay team.
For the second consecutive day a Virginia swimmer is the top seed heading into the finals as Robison clocked the fastest time of the 200 freestyle preliminaries. He touched in 1:33.27 and will be joined by McLean, who also earned a spot in the final, finishing in 1:34.05 for the fifth-fastest time of the morning.
Robison is the top seed in the 200 freestyle for the second straight year. He finished fourth in the race a year ago.
“We did a different race strategy this morning – he worked the back half and felt very comfortable doing that,” Bernardino said of Robison. “It gave everybody a different look and shows the kind of condition he is in. He is honored to be the first seed and I am very hopeful the outcome this year will be really rewarding. It’s a tough place to be but it’s what we worked for. It’s the kind of pressure you have to handle to be a NCAA champion.”
McLean nabbed the top seed Thursday morning in the 500 freestyle and went on to win his first national title in the event and the fourth individual crown for Virginia men’s swimming.
“After a lot of hard racing yesterday, this will be the first time he has ever come back and scored in the 200,” Bernardino said of McLean. “That is a great sign and he also has the opportunity to move forward.”
Karasek tallied a 16th-place finish in the preliminaries of the 200 freestyle to earn a berth in the consolation final. He finished in 1:35.07.
Lucky 16 was also true for Houser, who earned a spot in the consolation final of the 400 individual medley. Houser, who set the Virginia school record in the 200 individual medley on Thursday, finished his race in 3:46.56.
“They are not big points but you never know when a point or two will make a difference in a meet like this,” Bernardino said.
The 200 medley relay team started off the day with a 15th-place performance and will swim tonight in the consolation final. The team of Matthew Murray, Taylor Grey, Peter Geissinger and Tom Barrett touched in 1:26.72.
“In terms of picking up some critical points here and there, we are doing a great job. That medley relay was unseeded and has the opportunity to get us two or four points tonight. That is enormous.”
Geissinger went on to place 20th in the 100 butterfly (46.70) while Grey was 32nd in the 100 breaststroke (54.58). Murray also finished 32nd in the 100 backstroke (47.97).
“Taylor and Matt are showing a little bit of the rookie jitters,” Bernardino said. “They have been great on our relays but when they swam for themselves they showed some signs of stress and pressure. The fact they are able to swim so well on the relay is a real compliment to them.”
A timed final of the 800 freestyle relay will also be contested this evening.
Finals begin at 7 p.m. CDT time (8 p.m. Eastern) tonight from Minneapolis and will be webcast live on www.ESPN3.com and linked on VirginiaSports.com.