Records fall at NCAA swimming and diving – Technical

For two weeks, March 16-26, Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center hosted the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships where nine Tech swimmers competed in the varsity season finale in short courses. Junior McKenzie Campbell was Tech’s only representative in the women’s competition in week one, swimming the 200 butterfly and placing 42nd overall.

The following week brought five new program records and All-American swims for the Jackets. The men recorded their second consecutive 21st place finish. Senior Caio Pumputis, rookie Berke Saka, senior Christian Ferraro and rookie Mert Kilavuz all qualified individually. Senior Austin Daniel, Junior Daniel Kertesz, Senior Clark Wakeland and Second Batur Ünlu joined them in relays throughout the encounter.

“We were ready for the week and we proved it in the water,” Pumputis said after the championship meet where he earned the most points individually for Tech, finishing 16th in the 200 IM, 14th in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 breaststroke. In all three events, Pumputis earned All-American honors, ending his Tech career with 11 to his name. He clocked 1:43.37 in the 200 breaststroke, 51.82 in the 100 breaststroke and a program record of 1:50.61 in the 200 breaststroke.

Ferraro recorded 14 points for Tech in the 200 butterfly alone, finishing fifth en route to resetting his program record and earning his 7th All-American honor with a 1:40.09. Without scoring, he also reset his own 100 Butterfly program record to 45.24.

Kilavuz swam the distance freestyle events, the 500 and 1650. He finished 32nd in the 500 and 11th in the 1650, resetting his mile record by 1.63 seconds while earning All-American honors with a 14:40 .99.

Saka finished 42nd in the 200m individual medley, 35th in the 100m backstroke and 24th in the 200m backstroke.

Tech’s 200m freestyle relay from Ferraro, Daniel, Pumputis and Ünlu set the program record in 1:17.36, despite finishing last of those not disqualified from the event.

All four from Kilavuz, Saka, Ferraro and Pumputis have confirmed to the Technical they are aiming to qualify for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. Despite the team’s 21st-place finish, Pumputis saw it as a step forward for the Jackets going forward.

“We have already started this process [of improving] so we’ve definitely improved since I came here and since Christian came here. It’s our fifth year here so we’ve definitely improved a lot. And now, with these guys coming in, we have a great recruiting class for 2022-23. So we are definitely in the right place and moving in the right direction.

At the top of the standings, it was a close encounter between California and last year’s champions Texas. Cal took the lead after Destin Lasco won the 200 backstroke for the Bears on the final night, and victory was guaranteed by the final stint of the evening.

Pool records were set in 12 events, five of which were NCAA records (200 medley relays, 800 freestyle relays, 200 individual medley, 400 individual medley, 100 backstroke). Although no relay record was set in the 400 medley relay, Georgia’s Luca Urlando broke the NCAA 100m backstroke record in the first leg clocking 43.35. NC State’s Kacper Stokowski won the individual event in 44.04 earlier in the evening.

In women’s competition, Virginia Cavalier women won 11 of 18 swimming events, setting at least the McAuley pool record in eight of the events. Alex Walsh and Katie Douglass both won three events individually, and Gretchen Walsh added an individual win in the 100 freestyle to cap Virginia’s four relay victories. Virginia beat second-place NC State by 145.5 points for the NCAA championship.

Six amazing NCAA records have been set, five by Virginia and one in the 100m backstroke by NC State’s Katharine Berkoff. Only five swimming events in total have failed to result in at least one pool record.

The women’s competition has also garnered additional national attention due to the participation of Penn’s Lia Thomas, the first transgender athlete to compete in the NCAA championships. Transphobic protests against his participation have taken place outside the campus recreation center during every competition session where there were no bad weather.

Thomas won the 500 freestyle in 4:33.24 by one body length ahead of Emma Weyant of Virginia. On the medal podium afterwards, Erica Sullivan, Weyant and Brooke Forde, who placed second to fourth in the event, all took a photo together from a distance from Thomas. Sullivan on Instagram later clarified that it was not to protest Thomas’ participation, but to “take a picture with my closest friends in the Olympics.”

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