March 27, 2004
Two Big Ten squads found themselves among the nation's top-10 when all was said and done at the 2004 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in East Meadow, N.Y. Michigan ended its season in a flourish, finishing fifth, ahead of Conference champs Minnesota (9th), Northwestern (11th), Wisconsin (16th), and Indiana (17th). Michigan is the only team able to boast of winning a national title, as the Wolverines claimed three titles during the three day meet.
Sophomore standout Peter Vanderkaay led the way for the Wolverines, winning a national title in the 400-meter freestyle on Thursday night. His time of 3:40.78 is the fourth fastest time in the world this year in that event. Vanderkaay was at the front of a strong Michigan charge in the 400, as teammates Dan Ketchum and Andrew Hurd finished second and fourth, respectively. Two days later, Vanderkaay led from start to finish to capture the 1500-meter freestyle.
Michigan swam its way to national title number three Friday night, when the 800 freestyle relay team of Vanderkaay, Hurd, Ketchum, and Davis Tarwater touched first in 7:01.42. The mark established new NCAA and U.S. Open records and earned the Wolverines their first relay championship since 1997. Earlier in the evening, Ketchum just missed claiming his first individual title, finishing second in the 200-meter free.
The NCAA Championships marked the last collegiate meet in the career of legendary Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek. Urbanchek, who has led the Maize and Blue to a 100-4 dual meet record, 13 Big Ten titles, and one National Championship in 22 years at Michigan, is retiring after the summer season.
Big Ten Champ Minnesota continued to show its strength in the sprint events at NCAAs, finishing fifth in the 200 free relay on Thursday, earning the quartet of Mario Delac, Ales Volcansek, Terry Silkaitis, and Igor Cerensek first team All-America status. The Gophers came back on day two to claim eighth place in the 800 free relay. Adam Mitchell also earned first team honors by finishing seventh in the 200-meter and 400-meter IMs.
The Gophers saved their best race for last, however. The foursome of Delac, Silkaitsi, Cerensek, and Neil Osten finished fifth in the 400-meter freestyle relay, setting a new school record with their time of 3:14.01. Each member of the relay squad will be back for the 2005 season when Minnesota will host the Championships.
After finishing third at the Conference meet last month, Northwestern made a large improvement on the national level, jumping from 26th in 2003 to 11th. The Wildcats saw a lot of fast swimming from a pair of talented freshman, Matt Grevers and Mike Alexandrov. Grevers won the consolation heat of the 50-meter free on Thursday, and followed that with a sixth place finish in the 100-meter backstroke on Friday and a 12th place result in the 100-meter free on Saturday. Alexandrov also earned three top-16 finishes. Northwestern's top relay finish came in the 400 medley relay where the team of Grevers, Alexandrov, Mark Hamming, and Tony Swanson placed sixth. All together, the Wildcats earned 13 All-America honors over the weekend.
Indiana scored important points in the relay events for the first time at NCAAs since the 1995-96 season. The 200-medley relay finished seventh, the 400 medley relay team placed 12th, and the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relays finished 15th. Hoosier freshman Colin Russel also earned points for his team, taking 11th in the 400-meter free. This weekends results was the Hoosiers' best finish at the NCAA meet in over ten years.
The Wisconsin Badgers made their presence felt on the national stage with another top-20 showing. UW scored a ninth place finish in the 200-meter freestyle relay, fourth place in the 200 medley relay, and 13th in the 400-meter freestyle relay.
Giordan Pogioli of Purdue made a splash in the 200-meter breaststroke by finishing fourth in the event. Pogioli was the Big Ten champion in the 200 breaststroke.
Iowa's Timo Klami also earned All-America status at NCAAs, finishing seventh in the three-meter diving competition.
Auburn won the meet with 634 points, followed by traditional swimming powerhouses Stanford and Texas.