Pac-12 Men’s Swimmers Ready For LA

Winners of 30 straight Conference titles, Stanford is again the team to beat at the 2012 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships, but will face tough competition as three other league teams join the Cardinal in the top-six of the January 25 CSCAA rankings. With several national team members in the field, the Pac-12 Championships continue to showcase some of the top athletes in collegiate swimming.

The unanimous No. 1 team since early December, Arizona completed an undefeated regular season that included big wins over USC, California, Stanford and Texas. Leading the Wildcats is redshirt senior Cory Chitwood, a U.S. National Team member and 11-time All-American. Chitwood is the winner of the last two NCAA titles in the 200 back. He currently ranks first in the 200 back and 200 IM. Senior Austen Thompson, a four-time All-American, holds the season’s top time in the 400 IM and the fifth-fastest in the 200 IM. The Wildcats also also rank No. 1 in both medley relays.

Looking to power Stanford to its 31st Conference championship are seniors Chad La Tourette and Bobby Bollier, both U.S. National Team standouts. La Tourette, one of the nation’s top distance swimmers, looks to make it four Conference titles in a row in the 1,650 freestyle. A 2010 NCAA Champion and six-time All-American, La Tourette represented the United States at the 2011 FINA World Championships and placed fifth in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Bollier has 11 All-America honors on his record to go with four Conference crowns. Newcomer David Nolan already ranked in the top-20 nationally in five events, including sixth in the 200 back.

Junior Tom Shields, last year’s Swimmer of the Meet, leads defending national champion California. Shields has three individual Pac-10 titles and two NCAA crowns. He is the current NCAA record holder in the 200 fly after swimming 1:40.31 at the 2011 Pac-10 Championships. Senior Nolan Koon is the defending Conference champion in the 200 breast and was the runner-up in the 100 breast at last year’s NCAA meet. Senior Mathias Gydesen was the NCAA runner-up in the 100 fly last year.

USC swimmers have posted some of the nation’s fastest times this season. Sophomore Vladimir Morozov, the Trojans’ star sprinter, holds the top time in the 100 free and ranks fifth in the 50 free. Morozov is a four-time All-American and was the runner-up in both events at last year’s Pac-10 Championships to former Cal swimmer Nathan Adrian. Sophomore Dimitri Colupaev is the defending Conference champion in the 200 free and holds this season’s second-fastest time in the event. Colupaev also plays a valuable role on USC’s relay teams.

Sophomore Hayden Thomas leads Arizona State as the team’s top distance swimmer, holding the Sun Devils’ best time in the 1,650 free this season. Junior Caleb Veazey and senior Jesper Akesson have also been consistent for the Sun Devils. Veazy, a mid-distance free specialist, recorded season-bests in the 200, 500 and 1,650 free events at last year’s Conference meet.

Junior Karson Applin paces Utah as it competes in its first Pac-12 Championships. A butterfly and breaststroke specialist, Applin helped several relay teams to school records at last year’s Mountain West Conference Championships. He also earned All-Conference honors in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

Seniors Kevin Ferguson, Chris Peterson and Garrett Thompson anchor UC Santa Barbara. Ferguson and Thompson helped set a school record in the 400 free relay last season. Peterson represented the Gauchos at the 2011 NCAA Championships, placing 21st in the 50 freestyle.

Sophomores Konrad Antoniuk and Adrian Brynnel are both standouts for Cal Poly. Antoniuk finished eighth in the 1,650 freestyle at last year’s Conference meet. Brynnel holds the team’s top times in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyle events this season.

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