The University of Alabama Swimming and Diving teams dueled LSU down to the very end in Baton Rouge, La. with both the men’s and women’s meets coming down to the last events.
Alabama’s men had to take second and third in the last event, the 400 freestyle relay, to come away with the win while the women had to finish first and second. Crimson Tide head coach Eric McIlquham split his relays to give his squads the best chance for success.
“It was an electrifying meet,” McIlquham said. “It went back and forth through out the day and in the end, it came down to the last relays.”
On the men’s side, the “A” relay of sophomore Austin Shirey, freshman Collin Brosko, freshman Drew Finelli and senior Tim Hansen grabbed second with ease. At that point, it came down to the Tide’s “B” relay of sophomore Mark Randall, junior Mike Jones, sophomore Kevin Greer and senior Apostolis Tsagkarakis. When it came down to the last leg of the relay, Tsagakaris was more than five seconds, or half a pool length behind LSU’s “B” relay.
“Tolis made up more than five seconds over 100 yards, it was just an amazing effort,” McIlquham said. “He just tore it up out there, turning in a 43.4 on the back end of that relay, doing what he had to do for us to win.”
Alabama’s women fell just short, with the “A” relay finishing second and a false start by the “B” relay sealing the Tide’s fate. Alabama's men won 151-149 while the women fell 137-163. The Tide men are now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Southeastern Conference competition while the women are now 1-1 and 0-1 in the SEC.
“We had some real bright spots today,” McIlquham said. “We also have some spots in the line up where we need some folks to step and fill some holes.”
Tsagkarakis setup his heroics in the last relay by winning the 50 and 100 freestyles, posting a 20.18 in the 50 and a 44.79 in the 100.
Senior Vlad Polyakov shattered the LSU Natatorium 100 breaststroke record he set two years ago, clocking a 53.34. The nation’s top breaststroker also won the 200 breaststroke with a 1:58.36, leading Alabama to a 1-2-3 sweep. Freshman diver Aaron Fleshner broke the facility record on his way to winning the three-meter board, scoring 380.40 points, nearly 60 points better than second place.
Randall turned in a 9:16.82 in the 1000 freestyle, bettering his nearest competition by 15 seconds. He also won the 500 freestyle, outclassing the field by nine seconds with a 4:28.87.
On the women’s side, Junior Erin Sparks won the 100 and 200 breaststrokes and the 200 IM. In the 100 breaststroke, she out touched LSU’s Signe Larson by .15. Sparks also bettered Larson in the 200 breaststroke, finishing a second and a half before the Tiger with a 2:19.28. In the 200 IM she blistered the rest of the field by five seconds, touching at 2:04.70
Freshman Agustina de Giovanni posted a 10:06.78 to win the 1000 freestyle, ranking her 8th all-time for the Tide in that event. She also won the 500 freestyle with a 4:53.38. The Tide went 1-2-3 in the 200 butterfly with senior Victoria Genova leading the charge with a 2:02.85. Genova also won the 100 butterfly, turning in a 56.10. Senior Melina Bassino won the 200 freestyle with a 1:51.32.
Alabama returns to action next Friday at home against Auburn.