Stanford’s top-10 finishes in the men’s and women’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships were punctuated by record-breaking individual performances by senior David Nolan and freshman Simone Manuel.
Nolan won the 200-yard individual medley in 1:39.38 on Thursday, besting the American record time of 1:40.07 he set just three weeks earlier in the Pac-12 Championships. Nolan’s performance was the result of a down-to-the-wire race with Will Licon of Texas, who finished ahead of Nolan in the prelims but notched a slower time of 1:40.09 in the finals.
While Nolan broke the race open with an exceptional 24.32 second backstroke leg, Licon pushed Nolan by closing the gap in the breaststroke. Having pulled away from the rest of the competition, Nolan maintained his half-second lead over Licon in the freestyle leg, touching off to secure his second NCAA title in the event.
“It was special. I didn’t see the time for a couple of seconds because the flags were in the way. It was cool when I finally got to see it. I did feel a little bit hyped before the swim,” Nolan said. “I was pumped to actually get the goal time at NCAAs.”
Prior to Nolan’s record-breaking swim at the conference championships, the 200 IM record had belonged to 11-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte since his performance at the 2007 Winter Nationals. Having wrapped up his Stanford swimming career, Nolan will now turn his attention to swimming Olympic-length courses in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“We’ll see how this summer goes,” Nolan said. “I’ve always liked long course more, even though my times haven’t shown that.”
Like Nolan, Manuel hopes to parlay her collegiate success into a spot on the Olympic team. Manuel, a gold medalist in 400-meter relay at the 2013 FINA World Championships, broke the American record in the 100-yard freestyle on March 21. Nelson’s time of 46.09 seconds allowed her to retake the record she lost to Abbey Weitzeil in December.
Manuel got off to an extremely quick start, finishing her first 50 yards in 22.31 seconds, just one second slower than her first-place time in the 50-free. Manuel followed up her fast turn with the quickest second leg, allowing her to finish over a second above her teammate and closest competitor, sophomore Lia Neal.
“When I looked over to the right I saw my team cheering,” Manuel noted after the race. “That was all I could take away from it. I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t really see the time but when I did I was pretty shocked and excited.”
Neal and Manuel continued their success in the 400-yard freestyle relay, securing yet another U.S. record by finishing in 3:08.54. The extremely young Cardinal relay team, also featuring freshmen Janet Hu and Lindsay Engel, finished a second ahead of a second-place Cal team led by Olympic star Missy Franklin.
The race was a two-team competition from the start, as Neal and Franklin pulled away from the field with quick opening legs. After Engel’s third leg in just under 48 seconds, the Cardinal was half a second behind its rival. Manuel’s blistering anchor leg secured the win, and the American record, for Stanford. In fact, Manuel’s time of 45.79 would have beaten the record she set earlier in the 100-free.
Propelled by Nolan’s record-breaking swim and continued excellence by senior diver Kristian Ipsen, the men finished in 6th place nationally, their 35th consecutive top-10 finish. And despite 10 of the 16 women swimming in their first NCAA meet, the women finished in 3rd place nationally, giving head coach Greg Meehan’s group hope for a bright future.
Contact Sanjay Srinivas at sanjay_srinivas ‘at’ stanford.edu.