Mar. 26, 1997
Boiler Men's Swimmers Take Aim at NCAA Championships
The Purdue men's swim team begins competition Thursday at the NCAA Championships at University Aquatic Center in Mineapolis. Four members of the Boilermakers team have qualified to swim nine events and two relays during the three-day meet.
Senior Matt Brown and sophomore Vilmos Kovacs return to the national meet for the second-straight year to lead a Boilermaker quartet with realistic hopes of a top-20 national finish.Brown is a returning honorable mention All-American in the 200 and 400 individual medley, while Kovacs earned All-America honors in the 100 and 200 breaststroke last year.
"We have a chance to do something special for Purdue at this me," coach Dan Ross said. "A lot of teams have as many as 10 or 12 guys at this meet, but they might not score at all. We have a couple guys with an opportunity to score some big points in the individual events and we'll swim two relays, which is double points."
Brown, who swims in the 200 IM Thursday, is seeded third with a time of 1L46.48. However, being a veteran of two previous NCAA meets, Brown knows it all comes down to qualifying more than racing.
"It's going to be a dogfight in the 200 IM which is son the first day of competition," Brown said. "We need to get off to a good start on the first day and for me that's the 200 IM. That race is tough to figure because about 10 swimmers are within a second of each other.
"At this point, you need to make sure you get in the top eight and then you can focus on a high finish. All I care about right now is making the finals and getting All-America status. In both individual medleys, no one has shown dominance all year so you never know about a national title."
Brown, who will also swim the 400 IM and 200 breast the following two days, will swim the butterfly leg Thursday on the Boilermakers' 400 medley relay. Senior Gene Sutherland (backstroke), Kovacs (breaststroke), Brown and junior Mike Ullom (freestyle) round out an event crucial in determining final team standings.
"Hopefully our 400 medley relay will help us a lot in terms of points," Kovacs said. "We have a good chance to make top eight and get All-America for all four guys."
Said anchor leg swimmer Ullom: "Our goal is to post the same time as we did at Big Tens. We need everybody to hit their starts in preliminaries in order to make finals. If we make finals then it's all about racing."
Ullom and Kovacs will swim the 50 free and 200 IM Thursday, respectively, but aren't serous threats to score.
Kovacs will swim the 100 breast (Friday) and 200 breast (Saturday) with hopes of regaining All-America status. He's seeded No. 2 in the 200 breast with a season-best mark of 1:56.94, Tennessee junior and Olypmic silver medalist Jeremy Linn is seeded first with a quick 1:55.42. He ranks No. 9 in the 100 breast with a best time of 54.47.
"Sure, he (jeremy Linn) is real good and his time is much better than mine, but I'll be there and will try to do my best," Kovacs said. "I'm happy the meet is in Minnesota because everything is the same as last time we swam up here and I had a good experience then."
Brown, the No. 5 seed and 1997 Big Ten champions, will swim the 400 IM on Friday. Also, the Boilermakers have entered the 200 medley relay, which directly follows the 400 IM. Brown's top time in the 400-yard is 3:48.18, while the Boilers' season-best in the relay is 1:29. 35.
"Friday is going to be a brutal day for Matt because he has to swim the 400 IM and 200 medley relay which are about 15 minutes apart," Ross said. "Right now Matt is healthy, know on wood, and his wight is up. Our goal is top eight in our big four events and on the relay. That's a lofty goal because the breaststroke and IMs are tougher and faster this year."
In addition to Kovacs' 200 breast swim on Saturday, Sutherland and Brown will make the final swims of their collegiate career. Brown will also swim the 200 breast, while Sutherland hits the pool for the 200 backstroke.
"On that final day, I'd like to see Purdue's name in the top 20," Brown said. "Also, I'd like to finish my career with our name higher on the board than Indiana. We beat them in a dual meet and they got us at Big Tens this year, so for me as a senior that would be really good."