The Ohio State men’s swimming and diving team broke six school records, and earned 25 All-American awards on its way to an 11th-place finish out of 37 teams at the NCAA Championships.
California fended off defending national champion Texas to take first at the meet, held at Minnesota’s University Aquatic Center March 24–26.
OSU was rounding out the top 10 heading into Saturday, the third and final day of the championships, before Georgia overtook them, leaving the Buckeyes 10.5 points short of what would have been its second consecutive top-10 finish.
OSU coach Bill Wadley said they were not disappointed they missed out on the top 10 and that being the 11th-best team in the nation is still pretty good.
“Every year we start off as a goal of being a top-10 team, and we missed that by probably only two-tenths of a second,” Wadley said. “What’s the difference between 11th and 10th if it’s two-tenths of a second?”
OSU had 11 swimmers and one diver competing in the championships, and all 12 earned either All-American or honorable mention All-American awards.
“I think we might be the only team in the NCAA that had every athlete that they took to the competition come home as an All-American or honorable mention All-American,” Wadley said.
Sophomore Tim Phillips led the way for the Buckeyes, earning two All-American and three honorable mention All-American awards. He posted OSU’s top individual finish of fifth in the 100m butterfly with a school record time of 45.9 seconds.
Phillips also was part of the fifth-place 400m medley relay team that broke another school record and took home All-American accolades. The 400m medley relay team consisted of Phillips, senior Elliot Keefer and juniors Andrew Elliott and Lincoln Fahrbach.
“I just wanted to contribute to the relays and get us some points there as well as finish top five in the 100 fly, and I was able to accomplish that,” Phillips said. “Even though there was some disappointment in not placing top 10, I think the overall majority were satisfied with themselves.”
Keefer also placed 13th in the 100m breaststroke and was a part of the 200m medley relay team that swam to seventh place, All-American honors and a school record time of 1:25.29.
“Our 200 and 400 medley relays were the highest-placing relays we’ve had in the NCAAs in the last 50 years,” Keefer said. “So that was the bright side of the weekend.”
Michigan was the only Big Ten team that finished better than OSU, placing ninth. Wadley said OSU and Michigan are really the only northern schools that compete at the national level well and that his team has now put itself in a position to be good every year.
“The exciting news is, we really are going to set ourselves up for a great season next year,” Wadley said. “Most of our top swimmers are returning next year, and the opportunity to really do something special is right in front of us.”
Keefer said the seniors left the upperclassmen with encouragement for next year because it’s over fast.
“We were talking to the underclassmen afterwards and we were basically just saying where you are now, just enjoy it, because it’s the most fun you are going to have in college, hands down,” Keefer said.
The 200m freestyle relay team, as well as senior Justin Farra (200m and 400m individual medleys), also broke or tied school records over the weekend. Farra won the Elite 88 award during the weekend, an award given to the swimmer or diver at the championships with the highest GPA. This was the second straight year that an OSU swimmer won the award.
Both Phillips and Keefer are trying to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The women’s team finished its season with a 17th-place finish at the NCAA Championships a week before the men’s team. Six Buckeyes earned All-American honors, and junior diver Bianca Alvarez led the way with two fourth-place finishes in the one- and three-meter diving events. It was the Buckeyes’ highest team finish in 16 years.