During tonights finals, junior Ryk Neethling almost completely carried the Wildcats. Neethling won the sixth national title of his career, as he broke his own school record and finished first in the 200-yard free (1:33.59). The championship was not as easy as his 500 free title last night, as Neethling had to make up more than one half of a body length in the final 25 yards to overtake his rival, USCs Bela Szabados.
"This was the exact same scenario as last year," Neethling said. "I was disappointed in my 500 free time, but I managed to pull out the win in the 200 free. That was as close to a perfect race as Ive ever swam. Im ecstatic." Also scoring for the Cats in the 200 free was sophomore Jay Schryver. The seven-time All-America selection placed seventh (15th overall) in the consolation finals (1:37.61) and picked up two points for the Cats.
During the finals of the 800 free relay, 28 points came for the Cats in a most improbable fashion. The squad of Schryver, junior Nat Lewis, Neethling and freshman Richard Hall began slowly, but amazingly finished fifth in a time of 6:27.23. The amazing part of the race took place when Neethling left the blocks to swim the third leg of the relay. At the time, the Cats stood in eighth (last) place, but when Neethling was done with his amazing split time of 1:34.15, UA had moved all the way up to second place. Hall finished the race in 1:37.48 to hold on to the come-from-behind placing.
"Ryks leg of the 800 free relay was one of the most amazing splits I have ever seen," head coach Frank Busch said. "Especially since he had just exerted so much energy during his championship swim in the 200 free."
In the finals of the 200 medley relay, the Wildcat squad of junior Matt Allen, junior Rob Henikman, freshman Roland Schoeman and junior Coley Stickels set the fourth school record of the championships and second of the day by swimming a 1:26.52, good enough for a third place finish. The time nipped the 1:27.01 that was set at the 1993 NCAAs, that were also held at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Allen also placed first in the consolation final (ninth overall) of the 100 backstroke, breaking his own school, by swimming a in a time of 47.37. It was Allens ninth All-America nod as a Wildcat.
More points came for the Cats in the consolation finals of the 100 breaststroke. Junior Chris Bundy swam impressively and earned the fourth All- America honor of his career as he finished first in the consolation (ninth overall), in a time of 54.92.
In 3-Meter diving sophomore Arno Bergstrom missed out on qualifying for the evening finals session, but finished 28th overall, with a score of 446.10.
The final day of competition at the 1999 NCAA Mens Swimming and Diving Championships continues with the preliminaries beginning at 12 noon (EST) and championship finals slated for 7:00 p.m. (EST).