Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Men Head to Minneapolis for 77th Annual NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 20, 2000
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The Event: The Arizona men's swimming and diving squad will travel to Minneapolis, Minn. for the 2000 Division I Championships. The competition will run from Thursday, March 23 through Saturday, March 25 and the University of Minnesota will be the host school. The 76th annual event, with approximately 260 competitors, will be held at the University Aquatics Center. The meet will feature the nation's best swimmers and divers, including former and future Olympians. This year both the men and women's NCAAs will be contested in a short-course meters (25-meter pool) format, the first in the history of the Championships.

The Facilities: The championships will be held at the Dorothy L. Sheppard Pool inside the University Aquatics Center, on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The UAC has been the site of many national swimming and diving events since it opened in June, 1990. The U.S. Swimming Championships and the U.S. Olympic Festival were held there in 1990. Other major events at the UAC were the 1991 and 1996 Big Ten Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, the 1994 and 1997 NCAA Men's Division I Championships, the 1992, 1994, 1995 and 2000 Big Ten Men's Championships, as well as many United States Swimming and Diving Championships.

Arizona's Participants:
Matt Allen		100, 200 back, medley relays
Ben Anderson		200, 400 IM, 400 medley relay
Arno Bergstrom		Diving
Bill Bishop		400 IM, 200 fly, 800 free relay
Chris Bundy		200 IM, 100 breast, 
			400 medley relay
Jeff Dash		200 fly, 400 IM
Scott Gaskins		100, 200 free, free relays
Rob Henikman		50, 100 free, 100 breast,
			free relays, medley relays
Nat Lewis		200, 400, 1,500 free,
			free and medley relays
Ryk Neethling		200, 400, 1,500 free,
			free relays
Seth Orozco		100, 200 fly
Roland Schoeman		50, 100 free, 100 fly
			free and medley relays
Jay Schryver		100, 200 free, free relays
Kris Souther		100, 200 back,
			400 medley relay
Coley Stickels		50, 100 free, 
			free and medley relays
Ruben Vaca		Diving

2000 Pac-10 Championships: After the completion of the final day of competition at the 2000 Men's Pac-10 Swimming Championship at the King County Aquatic Center (Federal Way, Wash.) the Arizona men finished in fourth-place with a total team score of 468. Stanford continued its dominance at the Pac-10 meet by winning its 19th consecutive team title (794 points), followed by California (762) and USC (699.50)

Leading the way for the Cats was the three-time defending Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, senior Ryk Neethling who captured his third-consecutive crown in the 500-yard free on day one (4:14.05). That title brought his career total to six Pac-10 individual titles to go along with his seven NCAA titles.

The highlight of the weekend for the Wildcat men came from none other than Neethling, who captured his fourth-straight Pac-10 title in the 1,650-yard freestyle on day three, finishing over 31 seconds faster than his closest competitor. His time of 14:36.32 also set a Pac-10 meet record and was the seventh overall Pac-10 title in his dominating career at Arizona.

Meanwhile at the 2000 Pac-10 Diving Championships held simultaneously at the McDonald's Swim Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern California, junior Arno Bergstrom gained valuable points for the men's squad on day one by finishing second overall in the 3-Meter Springboard (464.30 points), while sophomore Ruben Vaca placed third (461.75). Then on day three, after winning the 1-Meter Springboard title the previous day (492.25), Vaca proved on day three that he is among the top divers in the nation as he was crowned Pac-10 champion in the 10-Meter platform competition. For the second time in as many days Vaca (461.75) outdistanced Marc Briggs of Arizona State (408.00) for the title.

Wildcat Swimming Notes: The No. 4 Wildcats are seeking their first-ever NCAA men's swimming and diving title. The best men's finish in school history was fourth place at the 1993 NCAAs Arizona is the only team ranked in the top-10 that returns every point scorer from last year's NCAA team Overall the team lost four letter-winners from last year's squad and gained six newcomers. In addition, the team returns 18 letter-winners and 12 All-Americans Senior Ryk Neethling's seven career NCAA individual crowns is the most in school swimming history - male or female. In fact, Neethling's seven career titles ties him with Arizona distance runner Amy Skieresz (1995-98; six track and field titles and one cross country) for the best in the 103 years of Wildcat athletics During the 1999-2000 dual meet season Wildcat men broke two U.S. Open records (sophomore Roland Schoeman - 50m free - 21.40 and 400m medley relay - senior Matt Allen, senior Rob Henikman, sophomore Roland Schoeman, senior Coley Stickels - 3:33.61); both taking place at the Texas Invitational in December, 1999 In addition, two short-course yard school records were broken by Schoeman (50-yard free; 19.07 - Texas Invitational and 100-yard free; 42.86).

Rankings: The UA men enter the meet ranked No. 4 in the nation in the March 9 edition of the Speedo America College Coaches Association Top-25 Poll. The Wildcats trail six-time NCAA champion Texas, Auburn and Stanford. The Pac-10 conference is also the most-represented conference in the country, as four of the top-six teams and five of the top-9 hail from the "conference of champions". Pac-10 teams and their rankings (as of March 9, 2000): Stanford No. 3, Arizona, No. 4, California No. 5, Southern California, No. 6 and Arizona State, No. 9

Last Year's Action: The Auburn Tigers won their second team title in three years at the IU Natatorium. Four Pac-10 teams finished in the top-six at the 1999 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in Indianapolis, Ind. 1998 NCAA champion Stanford (414.5) led the way for the Conference with a second place finish. California (300.5) finished two spots back in fourth, followed in fifth by Arizona (296) and Southern California (286.5) in sixth. Arizona State (84.5) finished 16th.

At the NCAA Championships, Pac-10 institutions won six individual titles. Arizona's Ryk Neethling won titles in the 200, 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle events on his way to NCAA Division I Swimmer of the Year honors and his third-straight nod as Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. With the wins, Neethling became only the eighth person in the 76-year history of the Championships to accomplish the double-triple (victories in three events in back-to-back seasons). His wins gave him seven NCAA individual titles in three years. It was also the third year Neethling won the 1,650 crown.

At the Pac-10's in Long Beach, Calif., Stanford edged California by eight points to claim the title. The final score of 748.5-740.5 was the closest finish at the Championships since 1980, when Cal won the title 397-390 over UCLA. Also, Neethling successfully defended his Conference titles in the 500 and 1,650 freestyle. It was the third consecutive year that he won the 1,650 free.

California head coach Nort Thornton led the Golden Bears to within eight points of ending Stanford's 17-year hold on the Pac-10 Championship en route to Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. At the Conference championships, his swimmers won four individual and one relay title. Thornton also coached Bart Kizierowski to a title in the 100 freestyle, and the Bears to a fourth place finish at the 1999 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Indianapolis, Ind.

On the diving side, Justin Dumais of USC claimed the Pac-10 triple crown for the second consecutive year, winning all three individual diving events at the Pac-10 Diving Championships in Federal Way, Wash. Dumais set Pac-10 records in all three events at the Championships. In the one-meter and three-meter events, Dumais broke his own Pac-10 records. In the platform, he broke the Pac-10 record of 817.90 set in 1994 by fellow Trojan Brian Earley with a final score of 823.95.

Pac-10 Diving Coach of the Year Jeff Shaffer, in his fourth year at the helm of the USC program, led Pac-10 Diver of the Year Justin Dumais to three individual titles at the 1999 Pac-10 Diving Championships, as well as three Pac-10 records. Under Shaffer, USC claimed three of the top eight spots in all three diving finals at the Pac-10's.

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