Friday March 23, 2012Cieslak Snags Silver, Gators Grab Four All-America Honors On First Night Of NCAAs
Federal Way, Wash.
A Gator chomp is always welcome for those donning the Orange and Blue. It was no different on the first night of competition at the Division I Swimming and Diving Championships when sophomore Marcin Cieslak (Warsaw, Poland) pushed into the pad in a career-low 1:42.26. The time is the third lowest time in Florida history behind two Gators who have recorded NCAA records – Bradley Ally and Ryan Lochte – en route to a second-place overall finish in the 200 IM with a pool stacked of competitors.
As usual, Cieslak offered a broad smile on his accomplishment. “Every time I go in the water, I just try and swim the fastest I can,” said Cieslak. “I just want to go out there and do my best every race.”
In a tight finish heading into the final 50-yard split, Cieslak finally gained the advantage. The sophomore held a steady place throughout the first three legs and then went on to swim the quickest, final, free split at 24.60 to grab silver behind Cal’s Marcin Tarczynski.
Cieslak joined sophomore Brad deBorde (Longwood, Florida), and a pair of relay teams that dove into the pool on the first night of NCAAs for the Gators at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash., to take home four All-American honors on the opening night of competition and sit in eighth with 58 points.
“It was a satisfactory day for us today,” remarked head coach Gregg Troy. “We’re very pleased with all of Marcin’s performances tonight. The 50 freestyle is always a little bit up in the air – any can put their hand on the pad first – Brad had a soft touch in the consolation final which put him back a little bit, but we had some strong relay performances. Our main focus will be the distance events – we have to get a little better than what we were today.”
“Overall, it was a solid performance today for our guys,” assessed Troy on his team’s debut in Federal Way.
The men’s 200 free relay team of deBorde, Matt Norton (Port Orange, Fla.), James Turner (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) and Matt Curby (Oviedo, Fla.) earned the first All-American honor of the night when the quartet combined to touch the pad in 1:18.17 for seventh.
deBorde kicked-off the relay with 19.58 split to set them in the 7th-place spot, and with each proceeding split by the Orange and Blue the Gators neither moved up or trailed in the field – steadily maintaining the seventh-place time throughout the race. Turner, one of two seniors on the NCAA team, contributed the quickest split of the night clocking in at 19.38.
Following his leadoff leg of the 200 free relay, deBorde took to the pool for the final two races of the night. First, when the sophomore sprinter finished 12th overall in the 50 free after he clocked in at 19.50. Second, when he joined teammates Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.), Cieslak and Matt Elliott (Peoria, Ill.) in the 400 medley relay to close-out the first night of swimming in Federal Way, Wash.
deBorde and Cieslak continued to excel as the night went, as each of their splits in the medley relay pushed the Gators to a third-place finish in the consolation finals, and 11th-place overall.
“We had a better swim in the 400 medley relay at the conference meet, so I know that we could have pulled together a better time tonight,” said Troy. “We had a really strong backstroke from Cameron, but we couldn’t pull it all together tonight to get the higher finish.”
Martin kick-started the Gators with a 48.28 split in the backstroke, and was followed by Elliott, who contributed a 53.32 split in the breaststroke leg. Cieslak clocked the second-fastest fly leg of the consolation finals at 45.86 to bump the Gators fifth in the field, to third. deBorde followed his teammates performance with a 42.57 in the final leg to secure his team’s third-place effort in the consolation final, and nab the extra points.
Diver Mike Lewark (Davie, Fla.) made his NCAA debut off the one-meter springboard, collecting 247.30 points for 32nd overall.
After the first full day of competition, the top-10 teams are as follows, from first through 10th: Cal (157.5), Stanford (140), Texas (128.5), Arizona (118), Auburn (106.5), Michigan (84), USC (79), Florida (58), Louisville (46) and Texas A&M (43).
“Tomorrow is our weakest day – we only have one really strong event for our team and then a couple of weaker spots,” explained Troy about tomorrow’s events. “We need to come in tomorrow morning with a lot of energy and ready to step things up a notch.”
Full results from the first night of swimming in Federwal Way can be found by following this link.
Day two of the 2012 NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships will continue tomorrow with prelims beginning at 11 a.m. PT and finals taking off at 7 p.m. PT. Swimmers will compete in the 200 medley relay, 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 800 free relay and three-meter diving.
Live times can be found by following this link. Free, live streaming of Friday morning’s prelims will be provided free of charge by clicking here. ESPN will be streaming the finals at www.WatchESPN.com.
For all the latest information on Florida men’s swimming and diving at the NCAA Championships, please log on to www.GatorZone.com/swimmingdiving/men or, for up-to-the-minute updates from Auburn, Ala., follow swimming and diving on Twitter @GatorZoneSwimDv. You can also follow the Gators on Facebook.
200 Free Relay, 7th, 1:18.17
Brad deBorde, 19.58
Matt Norton, 19.42
James Turner, 19.38
Matt Curby, 19.79
Marcin Cieslak, 2nd, 1:42.26
Brad deBorde, 12th, 19.50
400 Medley Relay, 11th, 3:10.03
Cameron Martin, back, 48.28
Matt Elliott, breast, 53.32
Marcin Cieslak, fly, 45.86
Brad deBorde, free, 42.57