Going Fast / North 200 freestyle relay team qualifies for championship heat

INDIANAPOLIS — It didn’t start off like they wanted, but the Columbus North boys swimmers finished strong during the preliminary round of the Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium on Friday night.

After a disappointing opening race in the 200-yard medley relay, the Bull Frogs bounced back in the 200 freestyle relay to earn a berth into today’s championship race.

Even though they struggled by their measure in the medley relay, North earned a spot in the consolation final. Senior Sam Russell also will swim in two consolation races today.

The top eight in each prelim earned a spot in the championship finals. Places nine through 16 received a spot in the consolation races.

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The natatorium has been the site of world records, the U.S. Olympic Trials, NCAA Championships and many other major events. Along with its history, it was a loud venue for Friday’s preliminary swims.

“Just coming into an atmosphere like this, you can’t really teach that, and I think our emotions were too high,” Russell said of the team’s performance in the opening race. “The second relay showed that every single emotion is in our control. We blocked out the noise and concentrated on our swims.”

Seeded 12th in the 200 freestyle relay, the Bull Frogs finished sixth with a time of 1:minute, 25.90 seconds, nearly a full second quicker (1:26.79) than their sectional race last week.

The medley relay was the first race of the meet and looked like it would be North’s best chance to get to a championship swim. It came in with a team-best ninth seed, but ended up 11th with a time of 1:35.93.

“I’m pleasantly surprised the way the 200 free came out,” said sophomore Christopher Lee, who swam the opening leg in both relays. “I think we’re still trying to wrap our minds around it before (today’s final).”

Russell, Lee, Jared Carroll and Rafael Spear swam both relay races.

Russell will have a busy day at the natatorium picking up a pair of 15th place finishes to earn spots in the 200 individual medley (1:53.67) and 100 breaststroke (58.25) consolations.

“Being in an ‘A’ final gives us motivation for the day,” Russell said. “I’m really happy with how everything went after our first race.”

Carroll added that there is a little more incentive for Saturday’s races. He said both relay teams were less than one second off school-record times.

“A big goal for tomorrow is to break those records,” Carroll said.

Lee finished 30th in the prelims of the 50 freestyle (22.06) and was 26th in the 100 backstroke (53.61). Nick Green was 25th in the 500 freestyle (4:44.64).

Championship and consolation finals begin at 1 p.m today.