March 1, 2012
By John Lock
OXFORD, Ohio - The Southern Illinois men's swimming and diving team wrapped up the first day of preliminaries at the MAC Championships. In the three prelims held, Southern sent six swimmers to tonight's A Finals.
"This is the fastest meet I've been a part of," head coach Rick Walker said. "The times that it is taking just to make the top eight are times that would have won in previous years. We have a tough road in front of us, but we're up for the challenge."
Prelims were held for the 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley and 50 freestyle. Juan Arbelaez led the way by posting the top time in the 50-yard freestyle in the third preliminary on the day. His time broke an 11-year-old school record, and he is the only swimmer in school history to break 20 seconds with his 19.98. He was the only swimmer at the meet to break 20 seconds.
"Juan is the first swimmer in our history to break 20 seconds," head coach Rick Walker said. "That's a huge barrier, like a four-minute mile. It's great to see him break that."
Justin Wolfe (20.46) and Jared Bradd (20.53) will join Arbelaez in the event's A Final tonight, making SIU the only school with three swimmers in the A Final for the 50 freestyle. Shaun Wolfe will swim in the B Final in the event.
The day started with the 500-yard freestyle. Southern placed two swimmers in the A Final, Csaba Gercsak (4:29.11) and Matt Kruse (4:29.56). Matt Parsons just missed the cut for the A Final and will have the fastest time in tonight's B Final. El Badrawi will join Parsons in the B Final.
Finals start tonight at 6 p.m. CST. The meet is being streamed live for free by the MAC website, MAC-Sports.com. The 50 free, 500 free, 200 IM and one-meter dive finals will be joined by the 200 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay in tonight's finals.