Aggie Relays Post Pair of NCAA Consideration Times on Big 12 First Day

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AUSTIN -- The Texas A&M men’s swimming and diving team flexed its muscles with a pair of NCAA consideration times in the only two races on the first day of the 2008 Big 12 Championships on Wednesday at the University of Texas’ Jamail Swim Center.

“That was a couple of very solid relays for us,” Aggie head swim coach Jay Holmes said. “We had some strong swims and the guys were ready to compete. We’re on a good pace as far as our training goes and we’re looking forward to Thursday’s races.”

The Aggies opened the meet with a runner-up finish in the 200-yard medley relay in a season-best 1:27.36, which was just .18 behind Texas’ winning time of 1:27.18. The foursome of sophomore Jason Bergstrom, senior Alejandro Jacobo, freshman Boris Loncaric and senior Ozzie Gardner lopped over two seconds off of the relay’s previous season best. Bergstrom’s 50-yard backstroke split of 22.25 was the third-fastest in school history, Jacobo’s breaststroke split of 24.16 was the second-fastest and Gardner’s anchor freestyle split of 18.97 was just the second sub-19-second split in school history.

“We had a really, really good effort in the 200 medley relay,” Holmes said. “That was probably the best relay swim we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach. And I know we can go faster. That time is in contention to get to the NCAA meet.

The Aggies followed with another runner-up finish in the 800-yard free relay with the foursome of senior Ryan Latone, junior Shawn Clarke, freshman Keenan Natyzak and sophomore Nikita Denisyako hitting the wall in 6:36.01. The foursome’s time bettered the Aggies’ previous season best by over 20 seconds. Denisyako posted an anchor split of 1:39.89 to hold off the favored Missouri Tigers down the stretch.

“That was a heck of a swim for those four guys,” Holmes said. “Missouri’s 200 freestylers had been better than us all year. They had beaten us at this distance every time we had swam against them this year. I’m really proud of what these four guys accomplished. Shawn Clarke swam the fastest he has all year, and Keenan was really solid, especially for a freshman. Nikita had never swam a 200-yard free in his life and hadn’t swam a 200-meter free in over two years, but we just had a feeling that he would be able to get it done and he did.”

In the only other final of the day, sophomore Matt Platt and freshman Tim Lavers placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in the one-meter springboard. Platt turned in a score of 277.65, while Lavers posted a 270.70 point total.

With three finals in the books, the Aggies stand in third place with 109 points behind Missouri (121) and Texas (112).