INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Having already shattered the American record in the 100 breast the previous night, sophomore Kevin Cordes became the fastest man ever in the 200-yard breaststroke Saturday night to lead the Arizona men’s swimming and diving team on the final day of the NCAA Championships. The Cats finished third in the team competition with 313.5 points.
“He is the fastest 200 breaststroker in the history of the sport by three seconds, even during the years of the super suits,” Arizona coach Eric Hansen said. “That’s like a Bob Beamon (who held the long jump world record for 22 years) performance from the Mexico Olympics. He took the bar and put it in places that people don’t understand.
“His 100 breaststroke split was probably the second-best thing; when he went 49.5 (in the 400 medley relay), that too was really special. He is a stud and still young in the sport, so he is only going to get better. I can’t wait to have him go long course and see what he can do in the Olympic distances.”
Cordes, who was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year, became the first 200 breaststroker ever two swim a sub-1:50, as he ran away from the field in 1:49.79 in prelims. Amazingly, Cordes followed that record performance up by shattering his own record in the finals — something he also did in the 100 breaststroke Friday night — becoming the first swimmer ever to break the 1:49 mark while pulling away to win the national title in 1:48.68. In the process, he became just the fourth Arizona men’s swimmer to win more than three individual national titles.
“I just really controlled my stroke. I didn’t go all out on my first 100 this morning, so I thought I could do that tonight and get out front,” Cordes said. “It’s a great training environment at Arizona. I’m really happy I found the right school and the right coaches and teammates. It’s been a blessing to be able to race each other every day.”
Meanwhile, teammate Carl Mickelson made it a 1-2 finish for the Wildcats, touching with an impressive time of 1:51.90 and breaking his personal-best record of 1:52.18 from last year’s NCAA Championship.
Competing in his first-ever NCAA Championship, freshman Rafael Quintero earned a spot in the finals of the platform diving competition and finished sixth with 387.20 points.
In addition, Michael Sheppard opened the night with a strong performance in the consolation final of the 200 back, posting a second-place finish with a time of 1:41.70.
Michigan won the team national championship with 480 points. California came in second with 406.5 points, followed by Arizona, USC (289) and Texas (288).
In addition to Cordes’ two individual national titles that came in record-setting fashion, the Wildcats also earned a title and a new school record in the 400 medley relay, shattering the previous school record by more than two seconds.
“The 400 medley relay was a rallying point for us with four guys that really stepped up,” Hansen said. “For Kevin Steel to get second (in the 100 breast on Friday) and would have been the American record holder had Cordes not set it last year, is just unimaginable.
“Also, to go 1-2 in both breaststrokes and to have Carl Mickelson do his job so professionally and go 1:51 just speaks volumes about our training group, the kids buying in and where our program is heading.”
As a program, Arizona has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA Championship every year since 1998 and has had at least one national champion every year since 2004.