NCAA Swimming Opens Today
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships open today with host Texas looking for a sixth national title.
But the Longhorns have their work cut out for them.
Stanford is seeking its fourth NCAA title in the last five seasons, Michigan hopes to repeat last year’s championship, and Tennessee and Auburn are eying the national crown after finishing one-two in the Southeastern Conference.
Coming three weeks after the U.S. Olympic trials, this meet is something of a question mark, Texas coach Eddie Reese said Wednesday.
``Making a prediction after the Olympic trials is a very difficult thing to do. This kind of meet after an Olympic trials scares me,″ he said. ``I just don’t know what kind of monkey wrench that throws into getting ready for this meet. I think there are going to be many surprises all over the pool.″
Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek said there’s a big difference between the two meets, however.
``The Olympic trials are an `I’ meet. It’s swim for yourself until you make the team. The good thing about the NCAAs is it’s a team meet. It’s easier to swim for a team than for yourself,″ he said.
Urbanchek’s defending champions are led by two-time NCAA swimmer of the year Tom Dolan, who has a supporting cast that features fellow Olympians John Piersma and Tom Malchow.
Auburn has several good sprinters and defending NCAA champion Kurt Jachimowski in the 200-yard individual medley. He’s looking to become Auburn’s first two-time NCAA champ since Ambrose ``Rowdy″ Gains did it in Austin in 1981.
Stanford, which finished second last year, captured its 15th consecutive Pac-10 title in November, thanks to double winners Sabir Muhammad and Tom Wilkins. The Cardinal also is led by 1996 Olympian Ray Carey.
Tennessee is loaded with sprinters, two-time NCAA diving champion Evan Stewart and Olympic breaststroker Jeremy Linn.
Texas, which has won the last 17 Southwest Conference championships, has been in contention for the national title ever since Reese arrived in Austin. The Longhorns finished 21st in the 1979 NCAAs, but since then they have won five titles, finished in the top five since 1980 and only dropped out of the top three twice, in 1987 and 1995.
The championships will continue through Saturday at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center.