March 21, 2012
SEATTLE, Wa. - The Alabama swimming and diving team gets things going at the men's NCAA Championships this Thursday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.
Sophomore BJ Hornikel will be up first for the Crimson Tide, swimming the 50 freestyle on Thursday. He will also compete as the No. 7 seed in Friday's 200 freestyle preliminaries. Hornikel will also swim the 100 freestyle, where he is seeded 11th, on Saturday. Sophomore Alex Coci, also among the championships' top seeds, will swim the 100 butterfly on Friday and the 200 butterfly on Saturday.
"It's going to be exciting," UA head coach Eric McIlquhamsaid. "This is one of the fastest meet in the world every year, and that's especially true when we're in an Olympic year like we are now."
Both Hornikel and Coci will be making their NCAA Championship debut at this year's meet.
"We're looking for some great things out of those guys as they continue what has already been a very successful year for them," McIlquham said.
Hornikel earned runner-up finishes in both the 100 and 200 freestyles as well as second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors at last month's SEC Championships. He is ranked second all-time at Alabama in the 100 and 200 freestyles, behind four-time Olympic gold medalist Jon Olsen.
Coci finished fifth in both the 100 and 200 butterfly at the SEC Championships and third in the 100-meter butterfly at the USA Winter National Championships. Coci ranks second all-time for the Tide in the 100 butterfly, less than two-tenths of a second off the school record set by two-time NCAA Champion and current UA assistant coach Stefan Gherghel. Coci is also fourth all-time in the 200 butterfly, a quarter of second behind Olympic gold medalist Jon Sieben.
The preliminaries get underway at 11 a.m. PDT each day while the finals start at 7 p.m. PDT each night. Friday and Saturday night's finals will be on ESPN3, while a recap of the championships will be shown on ESPNU on a taped delay basis on April 1.