March 23, 2012

A Freaky-Fast Friday for Big Red

Denison left the natatorium on Thursday night leading Kenyon College by three points after a scintillating 400 medley relay victory.  Denison's roll continued on Friday night and thanks to a dominating performance in the 100 backstroke and 34 unanswered points in the 1-meter dive, DU enters the final day of the 2012 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship with a 112 point lead over the Lords of Kenyon.

Through 15 events Denison has scored 471 points and Kenyon checks in with 359 points.  Emory is third with 287 points.

Last year, the 100 backstroke set the stage for Denison's Saturday charge to a national championship.  This year's performance did more than set the stage.  It may have slammed the door.  Denison placed four swimmers in the top-five and one in 14th place.  That resulted in 68 points and more importantly, a 61-point swing in favor of Denison in the standings.  Before the 100 back, DU led by 20. After the event, they led by a whopping 81 points.

Leading the charge in the 100 backstroke was senior Robert Barry who defended his national title in the event.  Last night Barry set a national record with his 100 backstroke lead-off in the 400 medley relay in 47.56.  Tonight he touched in 47.76 for the win.  That marked the third event national title in Barry's career.

Following in third place was sophomore Sean Chabot in 48.86 seconds.  He held off teammate Quinn Bartlett by one one-hundredth of a second.  Fifth place was occupied by senior Mike Barczak and 14th went to Michael DeSantis.

The good times continued for Denison in the night's final event, the 800 freestyle relay.  For the sixth time out of the last seven years, the event title went to the Big Red as Sean Chabot, Carlos Maciel, Spencer Fronk and Al Weik broke the national record of 6:32.91 set by Denison's 2009 team.  The relay featured extremely consistent swims from all four members.  The closer was Weik who covered his 200 yards in 1:37.20, locking up the win by more than a second.  Denison's record time of 6:30.40 was more than five seconds faster than the third-place time.

Just prior to the 800 free relay, Denison's Gabe Dixson and Connor Dignan placed second and fourth respectively in the 1-meter dive.  Last year Dixson placed fourth so his score of 506.30 was a 75 point improvement over 2011.  In his final dive, Dixson posted a score of 67.60 which temporarily lifted him into first place.  On the final dive of the competition, Johann Schmidt of Tufts posted an identical score of 67.60 to move past Dixson and into first-place.  Dignan ended with a total of 484.30.  Earlier in the morning senior Phil Meyer placed 13th in 422.15.  In the event, Denison gained another 36 unanswered points.

To open the night, Jackson Humphrey and Daniel Helman set the tone with top-five finishes in the 200 butterfly.  Humphrey placed third with a school record time of 1:49.14 and Hellman checked in fifth in 1:50.03.

Damon Rosenburg rounded out the scoring on Friday with a 10th place showing in the 100 breaststroke.  His time of 56.31 picked up seven points for DU.

The only events that remain for the men is the 1650 freestyle, the 100 free, the 200 backstroke, the 200 breaststroke and the 400 free relay.  Denison returns a defending national champs in two events (Weik: 1650 free and Bartlett: 200 back).  Preliminaries begin at 10 a.m. and the finals start at 6 p.m.

Photos by Oscar Salinas and Dave Thurston