March 26, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS --- The Texas A&M men's swimming and diving team used a total team effort to finish No. 13 at the 2011 NCAA Championships, which extends the Aggies' school record streak of top 25 NCAA finishes to 16 seasons.
The Aggies' team finish also marked the fourth straight year that they have finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Championships. California won the team championship with 493 points, and the Golden Bears were trailed by Texas (470.5), Stanford (403), Arizona (302), Florida (291) , Auburn (269.5), USC (206), Virginia (200), Michigan (181), Georgia (125.5), Ohio St (115), Tennessee (106.5), the Aggies (99.5), North Carolina (97) and Minnesota (91).
"This was a team effort between our swimmers and divers," Aggie head coach Jay Holmes said. "This was one of our smaller groups of NCAA competitors and we knew we were going to be in a fight for the top 12. Our preseason goal was a top 10 finish, and I'm disappointed that we weren't able to reach that goal. But if someone had told us we would be fighting for 12th place, even a week ago, we would have been thrilled. But make no mistake, even though we did a really great job with the number of qualifiers we had, for us to make some inroads into the top 10 we must get more of our guys qualified to meet. We will be top 10 at Texas A&M."
While the Aggies scored solid points in both the pool and the diving well, it was diver Grant Nel that stole the show for Texas A&M. Nel, a junior from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, qualified for the Championship diving final for the third straight night, and this time grabbed a bronze medal on the platform with a school record score of 452.35 points.
"I'm definitely more focused on the springboard dives, but I wanted to get up on the tower and score some points for my team," Nel said. "Some of the dives I did tonight, I've only done three or four times since last year's NCAA meet. I was happy that I was able to be consistent and help the team."
Nel was one of just four divers at the 2011 Championships to qualify for all three Championship finals, and he joins Eric Sehn as the only Aggies to do it. With a pair of NCAA runner-up finishes and tonight's third-place finish, Nel scored a school record 50 points at the 2011 NCAA meet. The previous record was 45 by Sehn at the 2007 NCAAs.
Also scoring points and breaking school records on the final day was senior Balazs Makany in the 100 freestyle and the Aggies' 400 free relay. Makany finished 13th in the 100 free while breaking his own school record with a time of 42.90. The Aggies' 400 free relay of sophomore John Dalton, Makany, freshman Henrik Lindau and freshman Kyle Troskot broke the school record with a time of 2:52.49 in the prelims and then Dalton, Makany, junior Amini Fonua and Troskot placed 14th in the finals with a time of 2:53.44. Dalton also contributed a point with a 16th place finish in the 100 free in 43.41.
"I'm proud of the way we competed as a team, and I'm real proud of our staff," Holmes said. "(Associate head coach) Doug Boyd really pushes our guys in all the right times. We had nearly 100 percent best times here. That credit goes all to Doug Boyd and these swimmers. I don't know if that really ever happens at other schools, but we did it here. (Diving coach) Jay Lerew, in my mind, is the best diving coach in the country. You can almost sense that when you see how much other diving people respect him. We owe a lot of credit to (strength and conditioning coach) Paul Sealey. Both our swimming and diving teams are better because of the work he does with them."