Alabama freshman Kristian Gkolomeev
uncorked a huge swim on the first day of his first NCAA Swimming and Diving
Championships, winning the 50 freestyle with a school record 18.95 in Austin,
Texas Thursday night.
Gkolomeev, who joined the Crimson Tide in January for the
spring semester, is Alabama's first NCAA Champion since Vlad Polyakov won the
200 breaststroke in 2007. He is also the first NCAA Champion under second-year
head coach Dennis Pursley.
"I don't know what to say," Gkolomeev said after the
race. "I didn't expect that. I'm a freshman and that's awesome. I have three
more years. This is the best."
Gkolomeev's winning time makes him the first Alabama
swimmer under 19 seconds in the 50 and gives him the first 50 freestyle title
in school history. Jonty Skinner, Alabama's Associate Head Coach, who coached
Gkolomeev on the way to the title, was the first UA swimmer to win an NCAA
Championship when he won the NCAA 100 freestyle title - as a freshman – in
Alabama finished off the night with its first top-eight
NCAA relay finish since 2006 when the 400 medley relay took eight place.
Freshman Connor Oslin led off the relay with a school record 46.33 while freshman
Anton Mckee, sophomore Brett Walsh and senior BJ Hornikel brought home the
relay in a time of 3:07.68.
The 50 freestyle title and a strong showing in the 400
medley relay turned around a tough start for the Tide, during which the 200
freestyle relay was disqualified at the beginning of Thursday's finals due to
an early start.
Despite the disqualification, Alabama is 10th
in the team standings with 40.5 points. Texas, the championship's host, is No.
1 after day one with 146 points while California is second with 145 points.
During prelims, Hornikel posted the best NCAA 50
freestyle finish of his career, taking 19th with a time of 19.51
after finishing 21st with a 19.72 a year ago.
Day two of the NCAA Championships will see Alabama will compete in the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays as well as the 200 freestyles and 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke.
INFORMATION SOURCE: UA Athletics Dept.