March 25, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS --- Texas A&M junior diver Grant Nel tallied a silver medal finish for the second straight night at the 2011 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday at the University of Minnesota.
Nel, from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, was solid throughout his list and then posted a brilliant 98.8 score on a forward 4 1/2 somersault tuck with his sixth dive to take the overall lead with a school record effort of 471.35 points. Nel lost his bid for the program's first NCAA Championship when Purdue's David Boudia hit a 91.80 for the victory with a score of 472.30. Nel's series of dives were scored at: 69.75, 88.40, 71.40, 76.50. 66.50 and 98.80
"Grant was consistent through all his dives, and then he came up big on his last dive," second-year Aggie dive coach Jay Lerew said. "He really did a great job and did everything he could to come out on top. I think he was the best diver out there tonight, and it was a very strong and deep field of divers."
Nel becomes the first Aggie diver to log a pair of NCAA runner-up finishes, and the first Aggie swimmer or diver to do it since Chris O'Neil posted runner-up finishes in the 100-yard butterfly in 1985 and 1986.
Also setting a school record on Friday was senior Balazs Makany, who lowered his own school record in the 200 free in the morning prelims and again in the evening finals. Makany, from Budapest, Hungary, qualified No. 13 with a time of 1:34.85 in the morning, which broke his old record of 1:35.10. He was even faster in the consolation final with a time of 1:34.63, which was good for a tie for second (t10th overall).
"Balazs has been such an important part of our program for the last four years," Aggie head swim coach Doug Boyd has done a great job of getting our guys ready for this meet. We are doing our best swimming of the year right now, no doubt. At this meet, there aren't many teams doing that which also says a lot about the guys on our team."
After the Aggies' big first day on Thursday, Holmes called Friday his team's "claw, fight, scratch day" when they would have to battle to find points. The Aggies managed 23.5 points on Friday and go into Saturday's final day in 13th place in the team standings with 72.5 points.
"I wish Aggies everywhere could have seen Balazs and Grant clawing and fighting for points tonight," Holmes said. "There was such fight in both of those guys, and I'm so proud of the way they represented Texas A&M. I said today would be the claw, fight, scratch day and it was just that."