Cal's Shields wins two men's NCAA swimming titles
California's Thomas Shields won the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke Friday night to help the defending champion Golden Bears stretch their lead in the team standings at the NCAA men's swimming and diving championships.
Cal finished the middle day of the three-day meet with 379.5 points. Texas was second heading into Saturday's final day with 343.5.
Shields, a junior, won the butterfly in 44.76 seconds, beating Giles Smith of Arizona, who was second in 45.77. Shields led from the outset and was well in command coming out of the final turn.
He then took the backstroke in 44.86, beating Stanford's David Nolan, who was in the lane next to him and finished in 45.53. Nolan had the lead at the halfway point, but Shields powered to the front coming out of the 75-yard turn.
"The butterfly, I just wanted to get one. I just wanted to win one, so it was like, `Whew, I got one,"' Shields said. "The backstroke was a lot more of a race. It was cool to race David Nolan, who is a really fast backstroker in a completely different way than I am. He's unbelievably fast on top of the water. ... It was cool to kind of play the cat-and-mouse game with him."
Cal coach David Durden added: "He's just a workhorse. ... That backstroke, there was no way David Nolan was going to beat him."
Arizona freshman Kevin Cordes set a new American record in the 100 breaststroke with a 51.32 during the preliminaries, then came back and won the title in the evening with a 51.71. The previous record was 51.35 by Michael Alexandrov in December 2010.
"That's something I've worked for my whole life, and it's finally coming true," Cordes said of the record. "It still hasn't hit me yet. I just looked at the scoreboard and heard the announcer say it was an American record."
In the final, Cordes battled with Louisville's Carlos Almeida and Arizona teammate Carl Mickelsen throughout the race. Mickelson actually was the first one out of the 75-yard turn before Cordes surged in front in the final 15 yards.
"Tonight, I just pulled it together enough and was able to get the victory," Cordes said.
Cordes also was part of the Arizona 200 medley relay team that set an American record of 1:23.53. Mitchell Friedemann, Cordes, Giles Smith and Adam Small broke the old mark of 1:23.97, set by Texas in 2009.
Friday's other winners were Arizona senior Austen Thompson in the 400 individual medley (3:39.15), Texas junior Daxon Hill in the 200 free (1:32.51), Stanford freshman Kristian Ipsen in 3-meter springboard diving (469.20), and Texas in the 800 free relay (6:15.55).
Durden said he's happy with the lead, but said it's not insurmountable.
"We had a good morning today and came back and had a great night," he said. "We outscored the field on Day 1, we outscored the field on Day 2, and we plan on outscoring the field on Day 3. There's nothing we're deviating from. That's just the path we have and it's the kind of collective will we have."