After four days of competition, the men’s swim and dive team came away with a sixth place finish at the NCAA championships. Record-breaking times and standout performances from new swimmers headlined the event as the Trojans returned to a top 10 finishing spot.
The week started with a bang for the Trojans after junior Dylan Carter led his 800y freestyle relay to a school-best time on Wednesday. Carter’s individual leg of the race clocked in at 1:30.95 minutes, finishing as the third-fastest 200y time in NCAA history.
Sophomore Patrick Mulcare, junior Santo Condorelli and senior Reed Malone kept pace to notch a 6:10.97 minute time, blanking the former school record of 6:11.64 minutes. The former record took first in the NCAA championships in 2015 and the new record earned the team a fifth place to start the championships.
The Trojans finished the day in seventh place behind Carter’s relay. The team trailed behind Stanford’s 105 points with a 75-point finish to the day after suffering a disqualification in the preliminaries of the 200y freestyle relay.
Carter also finished seventh in the 50y freestyle with a time of 19.08 seconds, just a fingertip behind the personal record time of 19.04 seconds that he notched in the preliminaries. Although that time didn’t count in the finals, it moved Carter to the place of the second-fastest Trojan to swim the event.
Also on Thursday, junior Ralf Tribuntsov and Condorelli tied for 19th place in the 50y freestyle preliminaries with a time of 19.35 seconds. The time was a personal record finish for Tribuntsov.
The three sprinters then teamed up with sophomore Carsten Vissering to take home fourth in the 400y relay, notching new school time of 3:02.20 seconds to completely erase the previous record by 2.31 seconds. Tribuntsov spearheaded the relay by breaking his previous record set in 2015 with a spring of 44.76 seconds. Condorelli closed with a 41.40-second sprint to bring the Trojans the top-five finish. The performance was necessary for a team struggling to recover from the previous disqualification.
“We could have rolled over and pouted about the relay [disqualification] this morning to start the session, but the guys stepped up, put it behind them and had a good morning session,” head coach Dave Salo said. “They then came back with outstanding results in the 50 free and 400 medley relay.”
Thursday also provided solid finishes for Trojans in the B finals. Sophomore Patrick Mulcare broke the school’s record in the 200y IM with a personal record finish of 1:44 minutes. Later, freshman diver Henry Fusaro took 12th on the 1-meter with a score of 334.20.
On Friday, the Trojans battled to overcome their previous disqualification to climb upwards in the ranking. The team finished the day remaining in seventh with 142.5 points, clawing closer to Stanford.
Carter tied for second in the 200y freestyle with a finish of 1:31.16 seconds, finishing only 0.52 seconds behind Townley Haas, who holds the American record in the event. His time came just shy of the record-breaking performance that he posted on Wednesday.
In the 100y breaststroke, Vissering broke his former school record with a 51.40 second finish, becoming the first Trojan All-American in the event since 2013. The time put him in third place in the event to qualify for the final.
Tribuntsov also qualified for a final, becoming the first Trojan to make it to the last round of the 100y backstroke three straight times since the 1970s. He finished in fifth with a time of 45.13 seconds.
Junior diver Dashiell Enos also earned his first NCAA points on Friday, finishing in 11th on the 3-meter event with a final score of 425.85 points. Freshman Henry Fusaro finished behind him in 14th with a finish of 374.90 points.
On Saturday night, the Trojans made a huge final surge to move up into sixth place with 237 points. It was the team’s third top-six finish in the past five years, and left the team wondering what might have happened if the 200y freestyle relay had not been disqualified.
Mulcare started the night with the fifth-fastest 200y backstroke finish in the NCAA, coming in third place with a time of 1:37.80 minutes. It was the fourth time that Mulcare broke the school record in this race in the last month alone.
In the fastest NCAA 100y freestyle event of all time, Carter and Condorelli finished within 0.01 seconds of each other to take fourth and fifth in the event. Carter finished in 41.76 seconds and Condorelli finished in 41.77. The event was won by Florida’s Caleb Dressel, who claimed the race in an American record-breaking time of 40 seconds. Carter and Condorelli are now the second and third fastest Trojans ever in 100y freestyle.
The championships were a standout weekend for Carter, who finished as a six-time All-American despite having never qualified for an NCAA A final before. It was a result that left both the team and the coaches proud.
“The guys just kept feeding off of each other’s performances and turned in one of our best efforts ever,” Salo said. “I can’t describe how proud we are of this team. We fought back every swim, every session, to crawl back into the rankings. I think overall we had one of the best meets from top to bottom.”
The Trojans finished the night off with a third place finish in the 400y freestyle relay as Condorelli, Tribuntsov, Carter and Malone notched a time of 2:47.33 seconds, barely 0.27 seconds off the previous school record. The race was the last performance in the pool for Malone, the team’s three-time co-captain who capped off his career as a seven-time All-American.
“Our performance this weekend was the manifestation of the camaraderie this team has shared for the entire season,” Malone said. “Through adversity, our confidence in each other never wavered, and it paid off with great individual performances and an even better team performance. Our goal is always to try to make our teammates back home and alumni proud, and [I] hope we did that this weekend.”