Feb. 28, 2011
Title Push Begins in Long Beach
Stanford Men’s Swimming, No. 2 nationally prior to beating No. 1 Cal to close out the dual season, will try to win its 30th-straight Pac-10 title in Long Beach starting on Wednesday. Stanford features one of the nation’s top distance swimmers in Chad La Tourette (No. 2 nationally in the 1650 free); national top-20 sprinters Alex Coville (No. 8 in 50 free and No. 20 in the 100 free) and Aaron Wayne (No. 17 in 100 free); utility swimmer Bobby Bollier (No. 6 200 fly, No. 12 500 free), senior breast stroker John Criste (No. 5 in 100 breast) and backstrokers Matt Thompson (No. 11 in 200 back) and Matthew Swanston (No. 12 in 200 back).
Cardinal coach Skip Kenney is looking to extend the longest streak in Pac-10 history by winning his 30th-straight Pac-10 title this week. Since taking over the program, seven national titles have occurred since 1985. Since Kenney took over the program, the Cardinal have also finished in the top three at the national meet 25 times and never lower than fourth since 1981. Stanford’s last NCAA title came in 1998. It was fourth at the NCAA Championships last year.
Kenney at the Helm
Three-time Olympic coach, six-time NCAA Coach of the Year and 21-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Skip Kenney is in his 32nd season at the helm of the Stanford program.
Dr. Rick Schavone is in his 33rd year as the team’s diving coach. He has coached at least one All-American in 26 of the last 28 years.
First Splash in Washington
The divers will now prepare for Regional Zone Championships in Minneapolis starting on March 10 after competing at last week’s diving championships. At last week in Federal Way, Wash., senior captain Brent Eichenseer and freshman Dhruv Tyagi reached finals of all three events. Eichenseer finished as high as third in the platform, Tyagi was fifth in the platform and one-meter. In total, Stanford had nine divers finish in the top-eight, counting towards this week’s scores.
Men’s Platform: 3. Eichenseer, 374.85; 4. Sishc, 343.70; 5. Tyagi, 294.00; 7. Garcia, 283.20 (Friday)
Men’s Three-Meter: 5. Eichenseer, 361.90; 7. Sishc, 357.50; 8. Tyagi, 322.95 (Thursday)
Men’s One-Meter: 5. Tyagi, 351.00; 7. Eichenseer, 310.40 (Wednesday)
Bobby Bollier, Austin Staab and Chad La Tourette are all returning conference champions. Bollier has won the last two 200 butterflies and also took home the title in the 400 IM in 2010, Staab dominated the 2008 and 2009 100 fly events before taking 2010 off and La Tourette won the 1650 Free. Staab is also a champion in the 200 free.
Nation’s Best Return
Chad La Tourette and Austin Staab look to repeat as national champions when the NCAA Championships begin on March 24. La Tourette is the defending 1650 free champion and Staab won the 2009 title in the 100 fly. La Tourette has the nation’s second-fastest 1650 free time (14:47.06) and the No. 1 fastest 1000 free time (8:56.40).
Stanford features two of the nation’s fastest freestyle relay teams. The Cardinal will look to defend the 200 free relay title at Pac-10s with three of their four swimmers returning in Alex Coville, Aaron Wayne and Jake Allen. This year the 200 free team ranks No. 7 nationally with a time of 1:18.80 and No. 8 in the 400 free relay (2:53.97). The 800 free relay (No. 16 nationally), 200 medley relay (No. 15) and 400 medley relay (No. 12) all rank in the top-16 heading into postseason play.
Back to a Title?
Stanford backstrokers Matt Thompson and Matthew Swanston rank No. 11 and No. 12 nationally in the 200 backstroke. Stanford has dominated the longer backstroke over the last decade, winning every title but the 2008 event since 2000. Randall Ball (2000) started the streak, and it was continued by three-time winners Markus Rogan (2001-02, 2004) and Hongzhu Sun (2005-07). Eugene Godsoe won the 2009 and 2010 titles.
Criste Looks for First Title
Senior John Criste enters the Pac-10 Championships with the nation’s fiffh-fastest 100 breast time at 53.37. He also ranks No. 22 in the 200 breast. He holds the school-record in the shorter distance and ranks No. 3 in the school anals in the 200 event.
Stanford has 12 swimmers who have finished in the top-16 at the NCAA Championships either in an individual event or relay. Austin Staab leads the way as a 13-time All-American, Alex Coville is a 12-time All-American, followed by Bobby Bollier and Curits Lovelace with seven a piece. Rob Andrews finished in the top-16 four times, Jake Allen, three. Matt Thompson, Aaron Wayne and Michael Zoldos each have one.
Another Close One on Tap?
Much like last year, the Pac-10 and NCAA Championships should be a close one. Stanford, which ranked No. 2 in the final poll prior to beating No. 1 Cal, are two of four Pac-10 teams ranked in the top-10. Arizona was No. 6 and USC was No. 7. At last year’s championship, Stanford beat Cal by 68 points.