Swimming Duo Earn Academic All-America Honors



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ?? Two University of Alabama swimmers, seniors Vlad Polyakov and Apostolis Tsagkarakis were named to the ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America 2007 Men's At-Large teams it was announced this week.

“I am very proud of the careers that Vlad and Tolis had here at Alabama,” head swimming and diving coach Eric McIlquham said. “They are very deserving of this honor and I think it speaks volumes about the emphasis they put on being successful in all aspects of their collegiate careers. The hard work they and their teammates put into their academics is a big part of why we have had the highest team grade point average of any men’s team in the athletics department each of the last three years. ”

It was the third consecutive year that Polyakov, a two-time NCAA Champion, has earned the honor and the first for Tsagkarakis. Alabama swimming and diving has put two student-athletes on the at-large team each of the last three years. Polyakov and diver Stewart Smith earned first team Academic All-American honors in 2005 and Polyakov and swimmer Guido Arroyo earned the honor in 2006.

Polyakov and Tsagkarakis were joined on the men’s at-large team by Alabama golfer Joseph Sykora. Polyakova and Sykora were named to the first team and Tsagkarakis was on the second team.

Schools are allowed to nominate three student-athletes for the Academic All-America Men's At-Large teams. Alabama and Stanford were the only two schools to have all three of its nominees earn Academic All-America. This marks the second year in a row that Alabama has had three athletes named to the men’s at-large teams.

“The fact that The University of Alabama had three student-athletes on this very prestigious list is a testament to the importance that we here at Alabama place on being a true student-athlete and excelling in both the classroom and the athletic arena,” Athletics Director Mal Moore said. “Vlad, Joseph and Apostolis are great examples of what can be achieved when dedication and hard work are combined with the tools available to Crimson Tide athletes.”

The at-large program includes all NCAA Division I schools and encompasses athletes from fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.

Polyakov was a two-time finalist at the 2004 Olympics and a two-time NCAA Champion in the 200 breaststroke. Undefeated in breaststroke events in dual meet competition during his career, he won five SEC breaststroke titles and is the SEC 200 breaststroke record holder. Finishing in the top two at the NCAA Championships in the 200 breaststroke all four years of his career, he won the national title in 2005 and 2007.

The 2006 FINA World 200 Breaststroke Champion, Polyakov holds the Alabama school records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke as well as the 200 and 400 medley relay. A four-year Academic All-SEC honoree, he was named the 2006 SEC Swimming Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

A 12 time All-American, Tsagkarakis went undefeated during the 2006-07 dual meet season in the 100 freestyle and was a championship finalist in the 50 freestyle at the NCAA Championships. He is the Alabama school record holder in five events including the 50 freestyle, breaking four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Jon Olsen’s 1991 mark, posting a 19.32 at 2007 NCAA Championships. He also holds the school 200 and 400 freestyle and 200 and 400 medley relay records.

A 2004 Olympian for his native Greece, Tsagkarakis was a member of Alabama’s 2006 U.S. Open 400 Medley Relay championship squad. A four year Academic All-SEC honoree, he also earned Health Care Management Excellence in Scholarship award.