0 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 27, 1998
Neethling leaves 'M' in wake
By Rick Freeman
Daily Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. - Swimming a championship event can be
a tricky thing. You have to swim hard enough in preliminaries to
-qualify for the finals, but you can't use up all your energy.
. But what if you save your best for the finals, only to find out
that someone else saved even more?
That's what happened to Michigan's Tom Malchow and Chris
,Thompson in last night's 500-yard freestyle. At the James E.
Martin Aquatics Center, both set pool records in the qualifying
heats but fell behind Arizona's Ryk Neethling early in the final
and never recovered.
Neethling jumped out to an early lead and held Malchow, the
Big Ten swimmer of the year, and Thompson, the Big Ten fresh-
man of the year, at arm's length for the entire race.
"It's always tough to get out to a big lead because there's no
one to push you," Neethling said.
,,,;But if he was having a tough time, it was a well-kept secret.
Neethling looked effortless as he glided across the surface of
,;he pool, leaving Malchow and Thompson's hopes for a nation-
al championship spinning in his wake.
"There wasn't much I could do," Malchow said.
In the preliminaries yesterday morning, Thompson nipped
Stanford's Steven Brown at the wire to earn a pool record. It did-
n't last long, as the record survived only until Neethling and
Malchow eclipsed it.
But after the race, Thompson dismissed remarks about his
own fantastic finish with an "Oh yeah, I'll be fine."
And he was fine, as he finished third in the country.
Neethling said himself that he "took it easy" in the prelimi-
naries, but he still managed a sound victory.
So was Neethling that good? His time was a plain-vanilla
4:13.42. Afterward, he was humble about his victory.
"Now, (former Wolverine Tom) Dolan's time - 4:08 -
that's amazing," he said.
Neethling wasn't amazing -just good enough. He swam an
easy race, and maybe the only tough time he had was the size of
his lead. He was so far ahead of Malchow, he said he wasn't sure
if he knew Malchow was gaining on him.
It didn't matter - Malchow only gained about a half-second
until Neethling regained his three-second cushion and held it for
the rest of the race.
The Michigan men's swimming team will look to crack the top 10 today as they continue to compete In the NCAA
Championships in Auburn. Only two Michigan swimmers placed yesterday.
Continued from Page 9
Malchow swam even faster in the
championship last night, but he would
not retain his pool record, because
Neethling would return the favor. The
Arizona sophomore swam a time of
4:13.42 last night, denying the Wolverine
his first-ever individual championship
by an astounding 4.38 seconds.
In all, six Wolverines competed in
the 500 free - which has always been
Michigan's dominant area - during
yesterday morning's preliminary round.
Urbanchek's swimmers didn't fare as
well in the shorter races. Freshman Scott
Werner finished a dismal 43rd in the 200
individual medley. Werner was dead last
in his heat, even though he entered with
the lowest seeding time.
Malchow, Thompson, Potts and
Owen von Richter were the only
Michigan swimmers who placed in the
top 16 and advanced to an evening ses-
sion. But the latter two were forced to
settle for the consolation final.
Unfortunately, a disappointing per-
formance in the 400 relay may have cost
Michigan its shot to break the top five at
NCAAs. Urbanchek has been saying for
weeks that the Wolverines are capable of
finishing as high as fourth.
"A fourth-place finish is a long shot
right now" Urbanchek said. "We won't
even be in the top ten as of tonight. The
only thing that didn't go right today was
the relay - no one else could have con-
tributed more. We needed the relay
because this meet is relay-oriented. If
your relays aren't up there, you're not
going to score a lot of points?'
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