BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The opening day of the 2013 NCAA Swimming Championship started with a bang for the Lions as they began to make their mark in the National Championships. Behind some great performances, the Lions won two morning heats and claimed Honorable Mention All-America honors in the evening championship finals.
In the morning qualifying session Pawel Trenda opened the tournament in fine style placing 12th in the 200 IM (1:48.87). He would follow that up in the evening finals by improving his time to 1:48.31 and finished as the 12th fastest swimmer in the nation in the 200.
The biggest news of the morning came in back-to-back qualifying heats when Gabe Keown and Milton Alberto-Requejo each won their respective 50 free races. Keown touched with a time of 20.80 and Alberto-Requejo finished in the following heat with a time of 20.54. Also in the 50 free, Matheus Assis was on track for another top time, but misjudged his turn, still managing a 30th place, 20.69 finish.
"We had a mixed morning session," Head Coach Paul Mangen said after a whirlwind first day. "Gabe and Milton won their heats which is what we focus on doing, but the heats just kept getting faster. Matheus misjudged the wall and you can't do that at this level."
Mangen continued, "Pawel might have only dropped a little time, but the way he swam it, 'back-halving' the race, tells me he's primed and will swim great this week. The men also did a good job of racing a great field in the medley, and were just tenths off of moving up several spots. I'm looking forward to another day at this great meet."
In the Lions' final morning event, Saint Leo posted a 16th place finish in the 200 Medley Relay as Assis, Michael Cozzi, Keown and Alberto-Requejo touched at 1:36.60. Saint Leo shaved nearly four seconds off of their early swim when the foursome rallied to touch at 1:32.94 and improve to a 15th place championship finish.
Saint Leo will continue on Day Two when they participate in the 200 Free Relay, the 400 IM, the 200 Free and the 400 Medley Relay. The events at the CrossPlex in the Division II Fall Festival will be streamed live on NCAA.com and can be accessed on SaintLeoLions.com.