March 25, 2014
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Ten members of Purdue men's swimming and diving are ready to represent the Boilermakers this week at the marquee event of the season, the three-day NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas.
Competition is set for Thursday through Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, which also hosted the USA Diving Winter Nationals in December. Austin is serving as the host site for the first time since 2003 and sixth time since 1981. Preliminaries begin daily at noon ET and evening finals are set for 8 p.m. ET. Diving prelims are set for 2:30 p.m. ET. ESPN3 and WatchESPN will be providing free live coverage of the finals sessions Friday and Saturday.
Purdue will be represented in the individual events by swimmers Guillermo Blanco (200 and 400 IM, 200 backstroke) and Lyam Dias (100 and 200 breaststroke) and as well as divers Jamie Bissett, Nate Cox, Sean Mokhtari and Layne Rogers. In the four relay events in which the Boilers qualified, Austin Flager, Matt Friede, Adam Johnston and Danny Tucker will team with Blanco and Dias. Flager, Friede and Tucker will be part of both freestyle relays, with Johnston filling out the 200 foursome and Blanco completing the 400 quartet. Blanco (back) and Dias (breast) will team with Flager (fly) and Tucker (free) in the medley relays.
Purdue and Texas both qualified four divers for the national championship meet to lead the way. There are 35 total divers set to compete.
The top 16 finishers in the afternoon preliminaries advance to the finals and assure themselves of All-America honors. They also score team points for their schools by qualifying for finals. The top eight advance to the championship finals. The ninth through 16th-place finishers in prelims compete in the consolation finals later in the day, those spots being Honorable Mention All-America.
Dias is Purdue's top-ranked swimmer entering the week. His new Purdue records in the breaststroke events at the Big Ten Championships rank him sixth in the 200 and eighth in the 100. Sam Wilcher (Honorable Mention, 200 fly in 2010) was the Boilers' last swimming All-American in an individual event. Dias is out to become the program's first full-fledged swimming All-American since Giordan Pogioli (100 and 200 breast) in 2005. The junior broke Pogioli's varsity record in the 200 breast last month.
Bissett finished as the runner-up in both springboard events at the Big Ten Championships and took second from the 3-meter at the NCAA Zone C Championships two weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio. Cox won from the platforms at Zones and was second at Big Tens. Mokhtari (platform) and Rogers (1-meter) gave the Boilers two more runner-up showings at Zones. Led by six-time NCAA champion and later Olympic gold medalist David Boudia, Purdue has had nine men's divers earn All-America honors during Adam Soldati's first eight years as diving coach.
Head coach Dan Ross was still contemplating whether or not it was in the team's best interest to compete in the 200 medley relay since it precedes the 400 IM, setting up a tough back-to-back for Blanco. The Boilermakers qualified for 12 of the 21 events this year.
Seniors Friede and Tucker will represent Purdue at NCAAs for the third year in a row. They've already experienced the long trip out west to the Seattle area for the 2012 NCAAs. Last year, it was just a short van ride to Indianapolis for the national championship meet. Bissett, Dias and Rogers also competed at NCAAs last year. Blanco, Cox, Flager, Johnston, Mokthari are the first-time qualifiers this year.
Friede and Tucker are both two-time Honorable Mention All-Americans as part of the Boilers' 200 free relay teams the last two seasons. Rogers garnered Honorable Mention All-America acclaim last year in 1-meter and platform diving. Bissett was also an Honorable Mention All-American from the platforms a year ago. Both divers are now focusing strictly on the springboard events.
All four Purdue divers got a look at the Jamail Center in December for the weeklong USA Diving Winter Nationals. As a Canadian, Bissett was not allowed to compete but still made the trip to cheer on his teammates. Mokthari is native of Houston who is very familiar with the facility.
Flager has qualified as a freshman, joining teammates Stephen Seliskar and Rogers as active Boilers to accomplish the feat. Last year, Seliskar became Purdue's first freshman swimmer to make it since 2006.
The Purdue women were also represented by 10 student-athletes at the NCAA Championships last week in Minneapolis. Two divers earned All-America honors and the Boilers finished 25th of 53 scoring teams.
Purdue Entries & Schedule at NCAA Championships
Jamie Bissett - 1-Meter & 3-Meter Diving
Guillermo Blanco - 200 IM, 400 IM, 200 Back & Relays
Nate Cox - 1-Meter, 3-Meter & Platform Diving
Lyam Dias - 100 & 200 Breast, Relays
Sean Mokhtari - 3-Meter & Platform Diving
Layne Rogers - 1-Meter & 3-Meter Diving
Austin Flager - Relays
Matt Friede - Relays
Adam Johnston - Relays
Danny Tucker - Relays
Thursday, March 27 - 12 p.m. Prelims, 8 p.m. Finals (Times ET)
200 Free Relay
200 IM - Guillermo Blanco
400 Medley Relay
1-Meter Diving - Jamie Bissett, Nate Cox & Layne Rogers
Friday, March 28 - 12 p.m. Prelims, 8 p.m. Finals (Times ET)
200 Medley Relay
400 IM - Guillermo Blanco
100 Breast - Lyam Dias
3-Meter Diving - Jamie Bissett, Nate Cox, Sean Mokhtari & Layne Rogers
Saturday, March 29 - 12 p.m. Prelims, 8 p.m. Finals (Times ET)
200 Back - Guillermo Blanco
200 Breast - Lyam Dias
400 Free Relay
Platform Diving - Nate Cox & Sean Mokhtari